17 July 2017

Ghana: Trade Ministry Panics

To help fight against pirated textiles in the country, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) has announced that it has developed a new policy direction to help make the textiles sector competitive.

As part of the policy guideline, the Ministry is reconstituting the Taskforce on Textiles, which is expected to help curb the menace of illegal importation of pirated Ghanaian textile prints and to ensure that importers, who engage in these nefarious activities, are arrested and prosecuted.

To this end, MoTI has requested that the Textiles, Garment and Leather Employees Union (TGLEU) nominate a new representative to serve on the Task Force.

"It would be appreciated if you could respond to our request by close of day 21st July, 2017 to enable the Hon. Minister inaugurate the Task Force," the Ministry wrote in a letter signed by the Chief Director, Dawarnoba Baeka, for the Minister.

According to MoTI, the fight against pirated textiles has been challenging and there is the need to re-strategize to win the war.

The Ministry set-up a Task Force in August, 2010 to ensure the implementation of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) Agreement under the World Trade Organization (WTO) which mandates governments not to allow infringed goods to enter the channel of commerce and also not to allow the re-exportation of such goods.

The letter was written in the nick of time to force the hands of TGLEU, which had indicated its intention to stage three-day demonstrations in Accra after growing frustrated of the ministry's delay in tackling issues of piracy and smuggling of textiles.

Chairman of TGLEU, Mr. Abraham Koomson indicated after receiving the letter that, "Looking at the letter from the ministry, we had to call-off the demonstration. But we have decided to issue a statement to express our misgivings about the manner the issue has been handled by the ministry, compelling the union to be threatening demonstrations.

"It's becoming too much. This is the third time that we've been made to call-off these strikes. It's not good enough. Why do you let workers agitate then you come in and say something. It's not the best. Even what they've brought out, if they are going to abide by it, is another issue altogether. So we're only hoping they will comply with their own directives that they've given in this letter," Koomson indicated.

When Business Day Ghana contacted the Ministry for further clarification, officials were not available for comment.

Demo threat

Workers of the TGLEU were set on a collision course as they were infuriated by a seeming trickery from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Early last month, the Ministry had promised to publish policy guidelines to regulate importation and sale of African textile prints to forestall counterfeiting, smuggling and dumping of fake fabrics onto the markets; factors that have over the years, destroyed the local manufacturing industry to the detriment of workers and the Ghanaian economy.

Business Day Ghana learned that the deadline given by the Ministry for the release of the policy guidelines was 30th June, 2017 but all efforts by TGLEU to get explanation for the undue delays proved futile.

Under the circumstances, the Union was compelled to express its frustrations by staging protestations on Wednesday 12th, Thursday 13th and Friday 14th July, 2017 in Accra.

About 300 workers were expected to demonstrate through some principal streets of Accra whilst some 50 other workers were to picket at the MoTI forecourt.

However, the picketing was called-off due to the letter the TGLEU workers received from the Ministry on Tuesday 11th July, 2017.

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