Safeguarding local economy from foreign invasion [Archives:2007/1065/Opinion]

July 5 2007

Mohammed Al-Ariqi
It is our duty to defend our national products, while the government is required to utilize all the accessible means and tools to ensure that imported products are without defect, an issue that has gained significance with trade liberalization and increased access of the global marketplace to the national economy.

In order to safeguard domestic products from a complete overhaul by foreign imports, we have to understand that many imported products are substandard, expensive and don't meet the growing demand of local consumers.

It is the right of Yemeni manufacturers to express their viewpoints and to protest the flooding of local markets with foreign products, which are similar to the local products. Additionally, the government is required to protect the interests of local manufacturers and businesses. One of the ways in which the government can intervene is through The Free Trade Agreement, which gives developing countries the right to enact the necessary procedures for protecting their products via raising customs tariffs on imports.

Many other countries are dedicated to protecting their local industries as they consider this sector a primary component in a country's economic and social development. These countries are aware that local industry helps reduce unemployment and limits the migration of domestic capital to other countries.

Therefore, tradesmen and manufacturers have to understand that the call for regulating imports does not lead to the monopolization of local industry, nor do these regulations put extra burdens on consumers to the sole benefit of manufacturers.

Competition which results from the opening of local markets to different domestic and foreign products is a much-needed and highly beneficial step to which we have to acclimatize. At the same time, we should utilize the protective measures of The Free Trade Agreement in order to safeguard local production.

In order to remain objective, we have to acknowledge the moderate level of industry in Yemen and the fact that this necessitates that the government employ all the available means for the purpose of fostering the establishment of factories to meet the growing demand of consumers. The government is required to work harder to regulate those imported commodities that have a negative influence on domestic production. This includes preventing the flooding of markets with substandard, foreign foodtuff that is already produced by various factories within Yemen.

For its part, the government is not interested in fostering competition between main products that help drive forward the wheels of economic development in the country. These products include construction materials, electrical tools and cement. The Yemeni market suffers a shortage of these products, thereby leaving a chance for a small number of tradesmen to monopolize the import of these products. This has led to a rise in the price of construction materials and electrical tools, which has negatively affected construction workers.

We are in need of a balanced vision to meet the growing demand of consumers for basic foodstuff that complies with quality standards and specifications and is sold at competitive, yet reasonable prices. Also, we need to regulate the local industry in a manner by which domestic production will be safeguarded while at the same time attracting foreign investment, creating multiple opportunities to expand the industrial base to be the pillar of the nation's comprehensive development.

Source: Al-Thawra State-run Daily