Effective September 1, 2018, there will be an import restriction on textiles into the country, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyerematen, has announced.
“We cannot accept a situation where anybody anywhere can bring in pirated textile prints or counterfeited from any border entry point in this country and they go unchecked,” he said.
Addressing the media after a marathon meeting with players in the textile industry and the leadership of the Commercial and Industrial Workers Union (ICU) of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Accra yesterday, Mr Kyerematen said apart from the government losing revenue due to the practice, it was also undermining the sustainability of the local textile sector.
The meeting was to discuss the way forward in bringing sanity into the textile industry and ensure that local textile producers survive in the market.
Mr Kyerematen said the import restriction would be managed by the government and the industry players themselves.
He explained that the transition period of three months was to enable those engaged in the act to clear their stock, stressing that after the three months, any textile found on the market would have to have a tax stamp and also should have entered the country through the import restricted channels that would be introduced.
Current textile demand
He said the current demand for textile prints in the country was 120 million yarns per annum, explaining that what was produced in the country altogether did not exceed even 35 million yarns.
Mr Kyerematen explained that it meant that there was a gap in the demand for textile and so it was not the intention of the government to ban its importation.
However, he pointed out that there was the need to manage the inflow of importation in order that local manufacturers were not edged out of business.
He said the Ministry of Finance would, from June 1, 2018, also begin discussions with industry players in the textile sector for the introduction of tax stamps to regulate the trade in the sector.
“The Ministry of Trade and Industry, working in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and the entire textile sector, has agreed to introduce tax stamps in the regulation of the textile sector in the country,” he said.
Mr Kyerematen said apart from making sure that the government earned the revenue that it deserved from the textile trade, it would also be one of the most significant measures introduced “for us to be able to regulate the trade in this sector, particularly in the market and the retail sector”.
He said what it meant was that every piece of fabric would have a tax stamp issued by the Ministry of Finance, adding that it was an opportunity to identify goods that were appropriately costumed to be sold on the market.
“Once this is done, it is easier for us to be able to monitor those who are selling pirated goods or counterfeits or contraband goods,” he explained.
Mr Kyerematen also announced that henceforth the task force established a year ago to operate at the border entry points would be empowered to enter the markets and retail centres.
“By extension, this means that any textile print brought into this country other than through the authorised channel will automatically be deemed a contraband and will be seized,” he explained.
He announced that the government was going to provide stimulus support for the local companies with financing, hoping that although that would not entirely address their challenges, it would significantly reduce the burden on them.
Responding, the General Secretary of the ICU, Mr Solomon Kotey, expressed gratitude to the minister for responding positively to the concerns of the textile sector in the country.
He said the union would continue to play its watchdog role to find out those who were engaged in the importation of fake textiles into the country, as well as the financiers behind the importation.