Gordon Joffe, vice-president of the Clothing Federation of South Africa, said yesterday that the country's clothing and textile exports reached R2 billion this year, double the figure for 1999.

Almost 60 per cent of these exports went to the US - a knock-on effect of the US African Growth and Opportunities Act. The figures were also boosted by agreements with the European Union, and the fact that South African companies have become more competitive.

Joffe said that the industry had also adapted to the needs of the local market by relocating formal manufacturing facilities to rural areas, thereby cutting costs.

He added that duty credit certificates - an incentive for exporters of textile goods - had been extended for five years and now addressed the needs of small, medium and large companies. 

The Clothing Federation represents 230 clothing and textile companies which employ 390 000 people in the Western and Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Northern Cape.