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Industry Woes Counterfeit goods killing textile industry-- Local Manufacturers

Ghana’s markets have flooded with cheap imports, arriving mainly from China in the last decade and under 3,000 jobs now remain in an industry which employed more than ten times that in the 1980s, it reported.

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Scores of textile industry players have blamed counterfeit goods from China for the collapse of the industry in an interview with UK's Independent newspaper.

Isaac Eshun, who works with GTP told the newspaper counterfeiting is the bane of the once thriving textile industry.

“I have worked here for 25 years and our product is very fine and people can see the difference when they buy it, but the counterfeiting is a problem,” Mr Eshun says. “It is killing us and it is killing the industry.”

Ghana’s markets have flooded with cheap imports, arriving mainly from China in the last decade and under 3,000 jobs now remain in an industry which employed more than ten times that in the 1980s, it reported.

“The productivity of local companies is fast declining because of pirated textiles that come into the country,” says Charles Asante-Bempong, a director at the Ghana Employers’ Association (GEA). “They are cheaper... [but] their designs are stolen and replicated with a lower quality and it is killing their businesses.”

Mr. Asante-Bempong further blamed Ghana's porous borders with Togo and Ivory Coast for the thriving illegal garments arriving into the country.

“We have very porous borders and only a few of them are manned by security people and it is very easy for these counterfeiters to pass through,” Mr Asante-Bempong says. “They are coming in huge quantities, truck fulls sometimes with some coming beneath cars and buses.”

On his part, the managing director of GTP, Kofi Boateng said the impact of the pirated textile has been huge. According to him, the market is not only flooded with cheap garments from the far east, but their designs, trademark and logo and label are copied too.

"We started to see that there was a lot of smuggled goods coming from the Far East copying our designs and being smuggled into the country,” he explains. 
“They don’t only copy our designs they copy the trademark and logo and label. Almost every design we make has been copied."

A task force launched early last year to combat counterfeit goods in the country seems to be yielding dividends, John Okwan, of the Textile, Garment and Leather Employees Union, told the newspaper.

“We have seized more than 7,000 pieces since we started the task-force. When the traders hear the task-force coming they will run away and leave their wares because they know what they are doing is wrong,” Mr Okwan says. “We are not saying they should not bring in cloth and they have the right to do their own designs but the problem is with the pirated ones.”

Government cancelled a contract with Printex to supply public schools with uniforms, awarding it to a Chinese firm. Mr.Okwan believes the action is a sign of government's low commitment to the industry.

“The president said we should produce things in Ghana and so I don’t know who has given that contract to China. It is a big problem now,” Mr Okwan says.

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