Apr. 21 (GIN) – Plagiarism by foreign manufacturers threatens to end Ghana’s standing as the maker of world-renowned textile patterns while country becomes an importer of its own imitated products, say local retailers.

Artisans and retailers raised fears of their extinction due to the flood of cheap imports during a government-sponsored workshop for textile dealers.

Eugene Adarkwa-Addae of the Ghana Standards Authority, observed that Ghana was becoming the destination of all kinds of imitated products – many with brand names similar to known brands.

Such fabrics run the risk of being seized and burned by his department, he reminded the textilers.

Once the leader in Ghana’s industrial sector, the textile industry has been in decline largely due to trade liberalization policies and programs. These policies have made it impossible for Ghana’s textile products to compete with cheap imports from Asia, reports My Joy Online, a Ghanaian online publication.

The industry, which once employed about 25,000 workers, now employs less than 4,000 and with no help in sight for the industry, this number is set to see further reduction, the publication finds.

Tax revenue from the local industry has also dipped at a time when the government is desperate for cash to accelerate its development agenda. Meanwhile, the floodgate seems to have been opened to a few to smuggle into the country what can be produced here to meet the demands of the market.

Union leaders of the Textiles, Garment and Leather Employees Union have been warning of unsustainable job losses within the textile industry if government fails to check the incessant smuggling of pirated textile products into the country.

The Unions are also unhappy about the suspension of the Anti-Piracy Textile Task-Force, under the Ministry of Trade and Industries.

China has gradually taken over the Ghanaian market with a primary focus on the textiles industry where the growth of its exports constitutes a double agony for the country.

Imports not only carry the designs of Ghanaian cloths, but are imitated to let them appear as if they were produced in Ghana. They also sell far below Ghanaian textiles.

Though stakeholders in the country have made frantic efforts to revitalize the textile and garment industry, this seems to have hit the rocks since the economy is recording a rapid surge in the sale of fake logos and designs of Chinese textile firms on the market.

Meanwhile, workers at one of the hard hit textile plants are demanding a reduction in working hours from 12 to 8, better pay and paid-up premiums for workman’s compensation and health insurance which the company has reportedly evaded for months.