October 21, 2004

WTO quotas influence local textile-industry, says ministry expert

The trade expert in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Noko Murangi, has contended that the elimination of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Textiles and Clothing quotas would have ramifications for Namibian textile companies. The elimination of the WTO agreement raised fears from smaller textile producing countries that they would be forced to compete with bigger producers such as China and India. Concerns are that especially African textile producers will suffer of the transformation of the WTO trade regime, estimating that the textile and garment exports could plunge by 70%.
Namibia does not have a diversified market, and the USA forms the single most important export market for textile products. However, as Murangi emphasised, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) arrangement with some African countries, including Namibia, signalled that the American market would not fully lift the veil, or wholly open up its own market just yet. According to Murangi, Namibia's lifeline was the AGOA initiative, a "self-selecting instrument" by the USA, that was extended first to 2008 and then to 2015. Under this initiative textiles, apparel, fishing products, stones and minerals are the main exports to the USA from Namibia, giving these products preferential access to the USA. Murangi thus suggested that it was important for Namibian companies to reposition themselves should the American market realign itself. "But there is still quite a long distance to go," he commented, saying that there was no immediate threat or displacement to these industries. (New Era, Windhoek)

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