South Africa, Zimbabwe to revisit bilateral trade agreement on apparel sector

by Apparel Resources News-Desk

05-February-2019  |  2 mins read

South African garment industry
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The Zimbabwe Clothing Manufacturers’ Association, or ZCMA, has urged both Zimbabwe and South Africa to revisit the bilateral trade deal between both the nations.

In November 2017, South Africa had given a year’s notice to end the 1964 pact opting for the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Trade Protocol on Trade.

However, Jeremy Youmans, ZCMA, Chairperson, said that the issue was yet to be resolved. He added that ZCMA is taking up this with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

In 2016, Zimbabwe had imposed ban on a range of South African imports under Statutory Instrument 64. So, while Sadc Trade Protocol on Trade is comprehensive for South Africa, Zimbabwe may lose its preferential access to Pretoria. The bilateral trade agreement favours Zimbabwean exports of clothing and textiles due to relaxed rules of origin of “single transformation” compared to “double transformation” under the Sadc Trade Protocol on Trade.

Under Sadc’s double transformation rule, the fabric needs to be produced in Zimbabwe or within Sadc.

The impact on the industry will be significant as South Africa has always resisted liberalising the rules of origin for the Sadc Trade Protocol. The bi-lateral trade agreement had preferential terms to Sadc, which requires apparels to be made from regional fabric to allow for preferential access,” said Youmans.

He further added that the problem is that while there are suppliers of certain fabrics in the region, they are not sufficient to meet the demands of all manufacturers in quantity and fabric type. So the loss of the bilateral agreement would hugely restrict the ability of several apparel manufacturers to export to South Africa.

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