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Growing issue of counterfeit cotton fabrics

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By Usman Oladimeji

Quality and value of the traditional crafts may be diminished.

There is a growing issue of Chinese-manufactured counterfeit cotton fabrics, specifically ‘Adire’ clothing, subsequently sold in the Nigerian market. It was said that Chinese importers are collaborating with Nigerian merchants, as they engage to dominate the batik and tie-dye production market, as well as the broader domain of textile production. Dating years back, in the mid 1980s, Nigeria boasted a count of 175 operational textile mills, with 350,000 workers in the expansive realm of the industry. Presently, the industry is experiencing a decline in operational efficiency, as evidenced by a mere 40% average sector capacity across 25 textile mills and employed about 25,000 workers.

As domestic textile manufacturing declined, so did domestic supply, leading to an increase in demand for imported fabrics materials. This also opened the way for a new set of businesswomen and men into the market as importers. The growing prevalence of fake Chinese batik and tie-dye fabrics in the Nigerian market may have both positive and negative consequences for the country economy. Invasion of Chinese-made bogus fabrics products could adversely affect Nigerian fabric sector. It may be difficult for local manufacturers and craftsmen to compete with the cheaper pricing of the counterfeit products, which might lead to job losses and lower-income revenue for the sector as a whole.

Trade gap might widen if consumers divert more funds to import.

Nigerian textile producers may see a drop in sales, if consumers in the country opt for the cheaper Chinese counterfeit product rather than the locally produced ones. The trade gap might widen if traders divert more funds to import from China, reducing tax income for the federal government. Considering that batik and tie-dye are traditional practices, there might be cases of cultural heritage threats. More so, the quality and value of these traditional crafts may be diminished due to the production and sale of copycat products, which is a potential loss of heritage and cultural identity.

Substandard quality and lack of safety precautions are another potential problem. The materials used in counterfeit fabrics are often of lower grade. As a result, customers may become dissatisfied, which may erode their trust in the local textile sector as a whole. In addition, the lack of compliance with safety regulations for counterfeit products poses a risk to consumers’ health. From a different viewpoint, it might lead to beneficial outcomes, such as a pricing advantage for customers. Consumers in Nigeria with limited money to spend may favour the availability of counterfeit fabrics made in China.

Government must take steps to protect domestic industries.

If clothing were more reasonably priced, a wider population might enjoy the benefits of wearing fashionable clothing. There is also a potential for partnership opportunities between the Nigerian textile producers and the Chinese producers to develop innovative manufacturing methods, bolster quality control, and design cost-effective production processes. This has the possibility to improve the competitiveness of domestic businesses in the global scene. The Nigerian government, however, must take steps to protect domestic industries, such as increasing taxes or restricting the import of counterfeit products.

Investment toward the development of the local textile sector may boost competitiveness and preserve the cultural heritage associated with traditional textiles. Efforts in this direction might take the form of training, modernization, and marketing campaigns. Economic specialists and politicians under the current government need to work unrelentlessly in order to develop effective protectionist policies to preserve domestic industries. The motivations behind this should be selflessness and objectivity. Almost every country has instituted some sort of protectionist trade policy to aid local companies.

China is the primary focus of protectionist policies internationally.

Reportedly, China has between 200 and 300 protectionist policies, the United States has roughly 800, and both the United Kingdom and Germany have 300 each. Based on available data, it is clear that China is the primary focus of protectionist policies internationally. This phenomenon can be attributed to the Chinese, who, employing a strategy of diplomatic influence centered around railway and infrastructure development, are effectively engaging in a form of subtle imperialism, enticing nations in the global south to align within their spheres of influence. They possess a sense of humour and their ability to strategize and make do with few resources in order to overcome any challenges.

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