I recently watched a popular video in which Adejoke Ewaede, a Nigerian young woman, raises attention to Chinese counterfeit cotton fabrics by spreading awareness about the abundance of ‘Adire’ clothing made in China that is sold in Nigeria. The core issue is that Chinese importers are conspiring with Nigerian vendors to seize control of and destroy domestic batik and tie-dye production, just as Chinese vendors are collaborating with Nigerian vendors to seize control and destroy domestic textile production.
The government is largely to blame for the state of the textile factories, which may not absolve Dutch disease sufferers. The Kakuri district of Kaduna State was formerly a hub of activity before the military era’s privatization drive. According to Tom Burgis, one of the facilitators who made significant contributions to the demise of the Nigerian textile sector through cross-border negotiations for the importation of textile supplies was a powerful Nigerian businessman from Katsina State.
Read also: Redefining the Adire fabric
Looking back, it was said that by the middle of the 1980s, Nigeria had 175 active textile mills and 350,000 workers employed across the whole textile industry. Nigeria’s textile industry is now operating at low capacity, with 25 textile mills operating at an average sector capacity of 40% and employing a total of about 25,000 people. Unfortunately, as the nation’s production capacity declined, there was a rise in demand for textile materials imported into the country. An entirely new class of importers—businesswomen and men—were created as a result of the unquenchable need for goods. Fake batik and tie-dye textiles from China may have both beneficial and negative effects on the Nigerian economy. Here are some possible effects:
Negative effects on local businesses: Nigeria’s domestic textile industry may suffer from an invasion of cheap, fake batik and tie-dye fabrics from China. The lower pricing of the fake goods may make it difficult for local manufacturers and craftspeople to compete, which would result in job losses and lower sector revenue. As the lady rightly said, a lot of local ‘Adire’makers are losing their job on a daily basis to the China-made fake ‘Adire clothes. Similarly, this was how thousands of Nigerians lost their jobs and sources of livelihood to the importation of textile fabrics to China.
Loss of Revenue and Trade Deficit: Nigerian textile companies may see a fall in sales if Nigerian consumers choose the less expensive Chinese counterfeit fabrics over locally manufactured ones. As more money leaves the country to buy Chinese textiles, the government’s tax revenue may decline, which may also increase the trade deficit.
Threat to Cultural Heritage: Traditional Nigerian textiles of historical and cultural value include batik and tie-dye. The creation and sale of knockoff products can diminish the quality and worth of these traditional crafts. A loss of cultural identity and legacy could result.
Quality and safety issues: Fake fabrics frequently have lower-quality components than real ones. Customers may become unsatisfied as a result, and they can eventually stop believing in the local textile industry as a whole. Additionally, fake goods cannot follow safety standards and put customers’ health in danger.
Consumers’ price advantage: On the positive side, the availability of cheaper Chinese counterfeit fabrics can benefit Nigerian consumers, who may have limited purchasing power. Affordable clothing can allow a broader section of the population to access fashionable clothing at lower prices.
Opportunities for Collaboration: Nigerian textile companies can investigate partnerships with Chinese producers to advance production methods, strengthen quality assurance, and create affordable manufacturing procedures. This can help the local industry compete more effectively with imports.
The Nigerian government should take measures to safeguard local sectors, such as raising tariffs or limiting imports of fake fabrics, to lessen the detrimental effects. Investing in the growth of the local textile industry can also help increase competitiveness and protect the cultural legacy connected to traditional textiles. These efforts can be made through training, modernization, and marketing campaigns. As Gandhi rightly said to the Indians, ‘Foreign cloth must be totally banished from the Nigerian market if Nigeria is to become an economically free nation if her peasant cotton farmers and textile workers are to be freed from chronic pauperism’.
Invariably, the PBAT’s economic experts and policymakers should constantly work to develop workable protectionist laws to safeguard domestic companies within our borders. Altruism and impartiality should be the driving forces behind this. To help their domestic firms, almost all nations have established some kind of protectionist trade policy. According to reports, China has 200 to 300, the US has around 800, and the UK and Germany each have 300. The information at hand demonstrates that China is the target of the majority of protectionist policies internationally. This is due to the Chinese, who, through their soft politics of railway and infrastructure diplomacy, are the arrogant pseudo-imperialists seducing the global south into their zones of influence. Chinese people possess a strong sense of humour. They are like squirrels in that they have a strong association with planning and resourcefulness, strong adaptation, and the capacity to withstand any adversity.
Bello, a social commentator, writes from Canada