The South African government has approved a ZAR200m (US$18.8m) grant to set up a new 'sustainable textile and apparel cluster' to supply more traceable products.

The initiative is backed by a five-year production plan to leapfrog local industry's competitiveness in sustainable textile and apparel manufacturing.

According to Dr Rob Davies, Minister of Trade and Industry, the initiative will supply local and international customers with fully traceable sustainable apparel and household textile products.

One of the main aims is to support local industry, both by developing production capacity and using local raw materials - starting with cotton and then broadening its scope to include all natural and synthetic fibres.

There are also plans to establish a National Sector Body to represent the entire value chain from fibre to end-product, with sector leaders working closely with government to map out the future development of the industry and address mutual issues of national concern.

Funding for the initiative is through the Competitiveness Improvement Programme (CIP) which, in turn, is part of the overall Clothing and Textiles Competitiveness Programme (CTCP) aimed at stabilising employment and improving overall competitiveness in clothing, textile, footwear, leather and leather goods manufacturing.