South African Broadcasting Corporation, April 13, 2006
Cosatu warns of job losses on SA-China trade deal
There has been a 480 % increase in clothing imports from China
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has warned government that thousands of textile workers, especially women, will soon join the unemployment queue. The labour federation says it is worried about South Africa’s trade deal with China that’s already left thousands jobless.
The union federation has raised fresh concerns about agreements between South Africa and China arguing that there will be dire consequences for this country if careful consideration is not made between SA-China trade deals. South Africa’s trade with China is growing at a rate of 26% annually, while there’s shrinking trade with the US and United Kingdom.
Early this year, during his State of the Nation address, President Thabo Mbeki said an agreement had been reached with China to protect South Africa’s clothing and textile industry. The agreements include reducing China exports to the country, but the issue of free trade between the two countries’ cannot be ruled out.
Cosatu says they were not consulted
Government said it consulted with all stakeholders, but Cosatu said they were only consulted early last year, and then parts of the agreements have changed. Cosatu believes that the deal favors China as at least R40 billion of the total trade last year was to the advantage of China.
Since 2003, there has been a 480% increase in clothing imports from China. In the same period, there has been 62 000 job losses in the textile industry.