n Studies in Economics and Econometrics - Trade and poverty : a case study of the South African clothing industry

Volume 31, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0379-6205


This case study examines how the South African clothing industry adjusted to the challenges of global competition, and the consequences thereof for the mostly female clothing worker corps. Trade liberalisation may detrimentally impact on income distribution as exposure of previously protected domestic industries to international competition may cause income and employment losses. The case of the clothing industry in South Africa is an illustration of such an outcome, as the swift rise in clothing imports precipitated the decline of the clothing industry with resultant employment loss. The predominantly female workers have had limited options for adjustment. The consequences of restructuring have been acute for these workers and have resulted in social dislocation. The study looks at restructuring in the industry; examines the social effects on clothing workers; and whether the export potential has alleviated the adverse effects by creating employment.

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