Mr Jaiyeola Olanrewaju, the Director-General of the Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association told the Punch Newspapers that the original amount was 50 billion naira, but that the government was convinced that the textile industry needed raw materials so 20 billion naira was added for the cotton industry
What does this mean, really?
Well, we have a history of the use of import prohibition as a trade policy instrument. Just take a look at the list of prohibited items and you will understand what I mean. However, the main complaint made by textile manufacturers is that cheap Chinese products are pricing them out of the market. Most people don’t really know, but the importation of textile products is banned in Nigeria, but most of the textile materials you find in Nigeria are foreign products- the DG of the Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association says it is 80%; he even goes on to say that 90% of that 80% are Chinese products. It is due to the socio-economic practice formally known as smuggling. I really don’t know what to make of this as yet, but my impression is that there is no way to stop the smuggling of textile products into Nigeria. And this is not because Nigerians love foreign made products – a lot of the cheap Chinese-made textile are of really poor quality so I don’t think it would count in the ‘good foreign products’ book – but because they are cheap and affordable. If the local industry can match the prices of the Chinese made products I am sure that Nigerians will buy them. The other thing is that people want to have the right to choose what they wear, and the imposition of ban on the importation of what would constitute a choice for them would simply not be welcome.
I understand the point of import prohibition for the protection of the local industry, but at the same time it is apparent that the local industry is so small that it is unable to cater to the needs of the populace. I think that the way to go is to actually accept the fact that the cheap Chinese products are in the market, and that they will remain a viable competition for the local textile industry. This acceptance should be factored into the ongoing restructuring of the textile industry.