Local textile manufacturing companies are appealing to the government for tax exemptions on their products as an incentive to help revive the industry.
According to them, this will help them compete with the influx of cheap textile products from China and other parts of the world.
Even though the national Friday wear has received a lot of public support, Joy business can report, most of these Friday wears are made of cheap foreign textiles.
The national Friday wear was introduced in 2004 by ex-president Kuffour, to promote made in Ghana textiles.
Despite gaining momentum, the textile manufacturing companies say, about 70 percent of what is currently worn on Fridays is nothing close to Ghanaian.
"I am wearing this because in solidarity with the Friday wear’’. Michael Osei confessed.
Another local consumer, Josephine Marfo said she was wearing Friday attire because the government gave a directive to wear it on Friday.
Others attributed their choice to cost.
”High target is nice, have bold colours and most importantly cheaper than GTP and other local brands,” according to Madam Rejoice Mensah.
“GTP colours are not nice at all, Hollandaise is even worse, Davi Mary told JoyBusiness”.
Central business district
A check at the central business district also revealed a high demand for cheap foreign textiles compared to local brands. This was confirmed by a trader, Jane Annan.
“When they come and I mention the prices, they tell me the local brands are too expensive. 85 cedis for GTP but as soon as I tell them high target is GHc45, quickly buy it.”
“You can buy three pieces of a High target for the price of one GTP,” another trader said.
According to the textile manufacturing companies, about 70 percent of textiles on the Ghanaian market is cheap imported products mostly from Togo and China.
The remaining 30 percent is shared among three local textile companies – Ghana Textile Printing (GTP), Akosombo Textiles Ltd (ATL) and Printex.
The three local textile companies currently produce about 30 million yards of fabrics even though it has the capacity to do about 60 million annually, this is according to the marketing director of GTP, Stephen Badu.
He said GTP for instance now produces between 16 and 20 million yards of fabric annually even though it has the capacity to do twice the amount.
Mr Badu insists the only way the sector can progress is when they are exempted from paying taxes.
“If add you all the taxes we pay on our products, it’s about 30% and most of these cheap textiles don’t even pay the right tax on their goods, so I can assure you that if these taxes are taken off our products, we can compete fairly on the market,” he said.
He added that, when the tax stamp is introduced, it would curtail the situation.
Pirating of local designs
Another worrying situation is that the foreign manufacturers are also copying local designs.
Mr Badu said, “It is always important to check for the authenticity of our GTP products on the market because sometimes even though you see GTP stamps on these textiles some are actually inferior.
So make sure you scratch to reveal a serial number on the sticker on the fabric. Text it to a short code and check if it’s fake or genuine,” he said.
Textile traders accuse manufacturers
But some textile traders are rather accusing manufacturers within the local print industry of being responsible for the influx of counterfeited prints on the Ghanaian market.
They claim the local industry has failed to produce prints of lower grades for the ordinary Ghanaian pushing them to prefer cheap imported products from other parts of the world.
Elizabeth Tamma who has been selling clothes for over 50 years said the local manufacturing industry should bear the blame for their woes.
“I started this business since 1972 and at first, ATL use to supply us in grades. We had low, middle and high grades for every consumer. But over time they stopped producing the lower grades so we were left with no choice than to go for cheaper grades abroad”
She also insisted, the claim that the foreign brands were stealing local designs is unfounded.
“In all honesty, when we bring in the cheap textiles from China, we rather take them to the local manufacturer to produce the same design and that has been the norm so it’s not true they are stealing their designs”. Madam Elizabeth alleged.
Apart from the Friday wear initiative, the local textile sector is yet to enjoy any major government intervention.
Even though the Friday wear has come to stay, the taste for counterfeited products are on high demand and it appears if the situation remains same, not only will local manufacturers face stiffer competition on the market but also lose their exclusive designs to pirated brands.