Proposals to raise import tariffs on more than 35 different garment types imported into South Africa have been praised by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).

The plans were submitted to the country's International Trade Administration Commission on Friday (26 June) by the South African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (SACTWU).

It wants to see tariffs hiked from 40% to 45% on items including jackets and blazers, dresses, skirts, trousers, shirts, underpants and briefs, T-shirts, jerseys, cardigans, tights, raincoats and suits.

The unions say the tariffs are necessary to protect the local market against cheap imports that might destroy local industries and jobs.

They also note that while the G20 Forums in November 2008 and April 2009 urged countries to avoid protectionism through the use of import quotas and tariffs, and/or local procurement strategies to protect domestic markets, protectionist measures by rich countries are on the rise.

COSATU said in a statement that it believes South Africa is within its rights to increase tariffs to their maximum levels, and says the increases are WTO-consistent.