TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Namibia: Govt Not Worried About Lifting of Textile Quotas

Friday, 07 January 2005

Source: The Namibian (Windhoek)

A senior Namibian government official has played down the potential effect the lifting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) textile quota could have on Namibia's fledging industry, as several other developing countries brace themselves for massive job losses.

All quotas on textile imports were lifted by WTO countries, including the European Union (EU) on January 1, which effectively means that cheap clothing from rich and powerful nations will now flood the United States - developing countries' main market - and manufacturers from the poorer nations will not be able to compete.

But Permanent Secretary of Trade and Industry Andrew Ndishishi believes that Namibia will still enjoy a competitive edge under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which gives its textiles duty-free access to the US.

"Yes, countries like China have more quality products, but we will still be fine because what has been lifted is only import quotas, the [import] duties will still apply to those countries, while we will continue to enjoy duty-free access to the US market," Ndishishi said in an interview with The Namibian.

According to him, the real effect of the lifting of the WTO textile quotas will differ from country to country.

Namibia's garment and textile industry only got of the ground less than five years ago after Malaysian textile giants Ramatex set up a textile plant in Windhoek, which currently employs more than 3 000 people.

Other investments have come from Malaysian and Taiwanese garment producers Rhino Garments and Tai Wah Garments.

Eighty per cent of Namibia's textiles and garments are earmarked for export to the US and 20 per cent to the European Union.

Several textile-producing countries in the developing world have already raised concerns about the possible adverse impact the loss of WTO quotas will have on their economies and export revenues.

The tiny mountain kingdom of Lesotho, sub-Saharan Africa's largest exporter of textiles to the US, has warned that as many as 50 000 workers could lose their jobs in its textile industry due to the dismantling of the quota regime.

Trade unions representing textile workers from across the African continent are reportedly pushing for a meeting with WTO Director General Supachai Panitchpakdi to discuss the potential job losses in their countries.

Textile-exporting developing nations also fear that other forms of trade restrictions, like strict visa requirements, trans-shipment and anti-dumping measures, could spring up following the phasing-out of the quota regime.

Under AGOA, the US demands that beneficiary countries prevent trans-shipments of textile and apparel products into the US market.

The Americans want a system that allows heavy penalties for those found guilty of trans-shipments.

The US customs authorities have placed stringent rules on AGOA exports to ensure that trans-shipments, mainly from the Far East, do not enter the US under the guise of AGOA.

US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick last month undertook a tour of several southern African countries, including Namibia, in a bid to allay concerns raised over the lifting of WTO textile quotas.



“AGOA Latest AGOA Trade Data currently available on AGOA.info


Click here to view a sector profile of Namibia’s bilateral trade with the United States, disaggregated by total exports and imports, AGOA exports and GSP exports.


Other regularly updated trade statistics on AGOA.info include: (click each link to view)

  • AGOA-beneficiary Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Aggregates

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.