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Business News of Tuesday, 3 June 2014


Anti-Piracy Textile Task Force to resume operations

The Anti-Piracy Textile Task Force set up by government to clamp down on the rising sale of pirated textiles on the Ghanaian market is set to bounce back to rid the markets of pirated textiles.

This follows the completion of a mandatory nationwide sensitisation exercise which was carried out in all 10 regions to enlighten traders on how to distinguish between the pirated imported textiles and the locally manufactured genuine ones.

The General Secretary of the Textiles, Garment and Leather Employees Union (TEGLEU), Mr Abraham Koomson, who is also a member of the task force, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS on May 28, that the task force was gearing up to resume its operations after the completion of the sensitisation exercise.

“We have educated the traders to distinguish between the pirated and genuine ones. We also advised them not to buy the pirated ones since they could have their goods destroyed, or they would be arrested if caught dealing in them,” he said during the interview.

According to him, after government has invested in carrying out the sensitisation exercise, no one has any excuse to trade in them, but since there are some recalcitrant traders, the task force must get to work.

“We are going to impress on the Minister of Trade to send the report to the president, so we know the next move. If we sit down quietly, nothing will happen, and they will continue to sell them,” he stressed.

It will be recalled that earlier this year, government ordered the immediate suspension of the Anti-Piracy Textile Task Force which comprised personnel from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ghana Revenue Authority, local textile manufacturing companies and the police.

The suspension was thus to pave way for the sensitisation exercise for the traders to learn to distinguish between the pirated textiles and the genuine ones.

WTO Convention

Mr Koomson explained that Ghana, being a founder member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), must enforce the tenets governing intellectual property rights.

According to the agreement, sanctions should be applied to those arrested for piracy, while the seized pirated textiles must be destroyed.

Article 61 of the WTO Agreement requires members of the organisation to treat pirated trademarks as a criminal activity and must, therefore, sanction perpetrators.

He explained that to allow traders to continue dealing in pirated textiles, which often expertly mimicked local designs, would constitute a violation of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) which sought to give protection to members.

Efforts to reduce piracy

Although government has put in several measures to halt the influx of pirated textiles, the practice continues unabated.

The anti-piracy task force was one of such initiatives which made some inroads with respect to seizure and destruction of pirated textiles, until its suspension as a result of the pleas of traders who claimed they were losing their livelihood as a result of the action.

Again, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, under whose jurisdiction the textile industry falls, issued a directive last year that with effect from September 2, 2013, all textile imports would be done through three ports; namely the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), Takoradi and the Tema harbours.

Interestingly, this directive seems to have hit a snag as these pirated goods are still able to find their way into the local market; something Mr Koomson described as worrying.

Cost or Quality?

The pirated textiles, which sell cheaper, compared to those produced locally, have become the preserve of both traders and patrons despite being aware that they have been pirated.

The textile industry has had its fair share of the adverse effects of the menace largely on its employment numbers. The present workforce of Ghana Textiles, Akosombo Textiles Limited, Printex and GTMC (all put together) adds up to around 2,500 with more redundancy on sight.

The government also loses a lot of revenue as these imported pirated textiles come into the country without being taxed.