Trade in Textiles- Holding the Chinese Juggernaut in Check
Since 1974, international trade in textiles has been governed by a system of quotas know as the Multi-Fiver Agreement (MFA). Designed to protect textile producers in developed nations from foreign competition, the MFA assigned countries quotas that specified the amount of textiles they could export. The quotas self-possessed /restrained textiles exports from some countries, such as China, but in other cases created a textile industry that might not have existed. Countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia were able to take advantage of favourable quota allocations to build significant textile industries that generated substantial exports. In 2003, textile accounted for more than 70 percent of those from Sri Lanka.
This is now changing. When the World Trade Organization was created in 1995, member countries agreed to let the MFA expire on December 31, 2004. At the time, many textile exporters in the developing world exported to gain from the elimination of the quota system. What they did not anticipate, however, was that China would join the WTO in 2001 and that Chinese textile exports would rush/ surge. By 2003, China was making 17 percent of the world’s textile, but this may only be a start. The WTO forecasts that China’s share may rise to 50 percent by 2007 as the country’s producers take advantage of the removal of quotas to expand their exports to the United States and European Union, displacing exports from many other developing nations. China’s gains are due to its comparative advantage in the manufacture of textile. Not only does the country benefit from low wages and productive labour force, but China’s huge factories also enable its producers to attain economies of scale unbelievable in most developing nations. Also, the country’s good infrastructure ensures quick transport of products and a timely turnaround of ships at ports, a critical assert in the clothing industry...