Trade Ministry Consult On Pirated Textiles

Trade and Industry Minister, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, has said the issue of pirated textiles had become a crisis affecting the potential growth of local textile industry. He said the industry that used to employ over 30,000 Ghanaians now employs barely 3,000 workers and as a result the Ministry would focus on national borders to check smuggling of pirated textiles instead of focusing only on market women. Speaking at a stakeholder’s forum on the “National crusade against trade in pirated Ghanaian Textile designs and trademarks”, Mr Iddrisu said the Ministry would also embark on massive education of customs officials and textile importers as well as traders to equip them to be able to distinguish between pirated textiles and that of local prints. The national consultative workshop was attended by local textile manufacturers, textile importers and traders, custom officials, regulatory authorities, security agents and other industry players across the country to discuss the issue of pirates textiles. The Minister said since textile importers and traders alike as well as some custom officials could not identify the difference in the textiles there was therefore the need to provide adequate education to such persons to help curb the menace that was killing the local textile industry gradually. Mr Iddrisu said there was also the need to regulate the entry of all textiles to ensure that they pass through legal routes and ensure that there was respect for intellectual property right of local textile designers. He said while government still believes in zero tolerance for pirated textiles, it however encourages importation of genuine and legal items and goods, adding, that government had introduced a new export incentive for young entrepreneurs to go into local textile business. He also expressed concern about the attitude of some local agents of textile companies who allegedly steal local designs and trademarks and sell it to foreign manufacturers to enable them pirate the designs. The Trade Minister cautioned such agents to stop that practice. Mr Joseph Tetteh, Representative of the traders, importers and retailers of textiles, welcomed the gesture by the Trade Ministry for the dialogue instead of using police and task-force to harass the traders. He said continuous education should be done to educate the dealers on the registered designs of the local textiles so they would easily identify and stay away from dealing in pirated cloth. Other participants emphasized the need to check porous borders in order to address the canker, while others asked that high import duties should be reduced. Others also asked local manufacturers to print cloths that are low cost as they preferred the cheap Chinese prints to local Ghanaian Textile Print (GTP), Akosombo Textile (ATL) and Printex designs which are very expensive. Participants were also briefed on World Trade Organisation (WTO) protocols on patent and copy right laws as well as standards in trading.