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Smuggling bedevils Nigeria’s textiles

An average Nigerian cannot identify quality products, but will prefer to go for what is cheap in the market even if it does not serve for a long time. The nation’s textile industry faces a host of challenges. Smuggling has assumed huge dimensions. Cheap imported fabrics, power cuts and a rise in production costs are making it difficult for Nigerian textile traders to compete.

Electricity supply is still below 20 per cent. The business environment is not sufficient enough for ‘Made in Nigeria’ products to compete with Chinese imports. Nigerians have to compete with the Chinese without protection. Since manufacturers cannot produce enough material, this means that textile traders down the line must rely on imports, much of which is smuggled. At the same time, importers have tightened the supply chain, insisting on upfront payment since the local currency was devalued.

In the face of stiff Asian competition, manufacturers are asking for government protection. Traders, on the other hand, want a quick propping up of the local currency to make imports affordable. Until such intervention happens, more traders and manufacturers will be at the mercy of Asian suppliers.

In Nigeria, textile manufacturing is a key local industry, supported by a chain of suppliers such as cotton growers and natural dye makers.