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18.05.2005 Business & Finance

Ministry gets tough on illegal textile importers

By GNA

Accra, May 18, GNA - The Ministry of Trade and Industry on Wednesday directed that from July 1, this year, the entry point for all imports of African prints should be restricted to the Takoradi Port.

It also directed that with immediate effect, imported African print-Real Super Wax Block Print, Super Real Wax, Imitation Wax, Java and Fancy Prints - were being regarded as "high risk goods" and should be subjected to 100 per cent physical examination jointly to be conducted by the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service and the Ghana Standards Board (GSB) at the entry points.

Mr Alan Kyerematen, the Sector Minister, giving the directives warned that any person who routed imported African prints through any port or land route apart from the Takoradi port would be prosecuted and have such imports confiscated.

Mr Kyerematen was speaking at a press conference in Accra on recent issues of concern, particularly illegal imports of African textiles that created unfair competition for the local industry.

The new measures formed part of the guidelines to control the numerous unfair trading practices as evasion of import duties and other taxes, under-invoicing, poor quality prints, pirating of patents and trade marks.

Under the new guidelines, "all importers of African prints shall be deemed to be companies that are duly registered with the Registrar General Department and under the laws of Ghana to carry out such business.

"For the purpose of monitoring the operations of such importers, they will also be required to register with the Ministry and submit monthly returns on their imports of African prints.

"Importers of African Prints shall register with the GSB and shall present a sample of the African Print to be imported for pattern approval", he said.

He said apart from all African Prints being made to conform to the standards set by the GSB,they would be properly labelled in compliance with the Labelling Regulation L I 1514 (1992).

Mr Kyerematen said a well-organised smuggling syndicate including importers, clearing and forwarding agents, officials of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service, the Police, Port Security personnel, were involved in the illegal trade that had flooded the market with smuggled products mainly from China, and other South East Asia countries. Other actors are distributors and wholesalers, market women and other retailers and even some consumers.

Calling them economic saboteurs, Mr Kyerematen said the practice involved total evasion of duty on imported African Textile Prints, under-declaration of imports, under-invoicing, fraudulent misrepresentation imports to avoid higher duties copying of tickets and labels including Ghana Standards Board Logo and marks, inadequate labelling information and non declaration of country of origin. He announced that a new Economic Intelligence Task Force was established under the auspices of the Ministry to specifically check and deal decisively with all cases of trade malpractices in Ghana. Mr Kyerematen said the five per cent import duty on raw cotton was to be waived.

Other measures that would be pursued to create a more favourable environment for the local textile industry included a technical audit with a view to improving on machinery and equipment, reduction in high cost of labour and credit.

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