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Ghana: Textile Industry to Be Revamped

Published date:
Thursday, 19 May 2005

In a bid to revamp the textile industry in Ghana, the ministry of Trade and Industry has introduced new guidelines to curb smuggling of cheap and low quality textiles.

Among the measures that the minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Alan Kyeremanten announced yesterday at a press conference in Accra was the creation of the Takoradi Port as a new single import corridor for all African Textile Prints (ATP) coming into Ghana. "All imports of African prints in commercial quantities shall be restricted to only Takoradi Port."

"What this effectively means is that, all commercial imports of African prints through unauthorised routes, particularly the land borders, shall be confiscated on sight and the importers prosecuted."

The minister disclosed that all commercial African prints imported through the Takoradi Port as approved, shall be subjected to 100% physical examination which would be conducted jointly by CEPS and Ghana Standards Board (GSB). To this effect, African prints shall now be included in the category of products designated as "High Risk Goods", which also include food products, pharmaceuticals and chemicals.

Mr. Kyeremanten said all African print imports shall comply strictly with the General Labelling Rules, LI 1514 (1992).

"African print imports shall also conform to the specific standards set and published by the Ghana Standards Board (GSB). In addition, all importers of African prints shall be required to register with GSB and shall present a sample of any African print to be imported for pattern or design approval. In this regard, all imports of African prints received through the Takoradi Port should upon examination, conform to the pre-approved pattern or design," the minister said.

He said the guidelines require all importers of African prints to register with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and file monthly returns on their imports as well as apply to the Ministry for clearance permit to clear their goods from the port. "These measures outlined shall be reflected in new Administrative Policy Guidelines for the importation of African Textile Prints."

The minister told newsmen further that a new Economic Intelligence Task Force made up of representatives from the Security Agencies and other relevant public and private sector institutions, has been established under the auspices of his Ministry to specifically check and deal decisively with all cases of trade malpractices in Ghana, including but not limited to the textile sector.

The Task Force, among other things, would critically examine and monitor the operations of all those involved in the supply and distribution chain in the internal trade sector in Ghana, carry out reconnaissance operations and conduct targeted operations on sites and locations to be identified from time to time and coordinate the implementation of specific remedial measures in response to the outcome of field operations, including the prosecution of offending individuals. He cautioned that no one would be spared, including security personnel found to be condoning and conniving with smuggling.

He however mentioned that although the new import guidelines and the work of the Task Force would undoubtedly enhance the growth and development of the Textile Sector, it was worth noting that the ultimate survival of the local textile companies would depend primarily on their own level of competitiveness. "This would require significant improvements in their operational efficiency and a reduction in the high cost of production, which is partly as a result of obsolete plant and machinery and high labour costs." He said this phenomenon, together with the stiff competition from cheap imported products especially from China, has resulted in a sharp decline in the fortunes of the textile sector in Ghana over the past few decades.

It is worth noting however that this development is not peculiar to Ghana, but reflects a general global trend. Even advanced countries such as the United States, Germany and France are all reeling under the competitive might of China.

Ghana has a good opportunity to reverse this trend and restore the sector to its former glory, with the new measures to be implemented by Government.

He had earlier said the industry was associated with evasion of duty, under-declaration, under-invoicing, misdescription of imports and pirating of patented or registered designs belonging to other textile producing companies.

He further intimated that imitation of original designs, copying brands, copying tickets and labels, inadequate labelling information as well as sub-standard or inferior products were other factors militating against the growth of the industry in Ghana.

Pirated designs of Printex and Ghana Textile Company manufactured in the South Eastern Asian countries were displayed.

The Human Resource Manager, Mr. Moses Zizer told The Business Chronicle that they found out about three years ago that their designs had been stolen and were being reproduced. He said with these measures being put in place, he hoped it would work.

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