Friday, June 11, 2004

It's not just Democrats. It's not just US "protectionists". Even Bangladesh, Mexico and Turkey are convinced that "free trade" in textiles is a bad idea.
More than 130 Republican and Democratic members of Congress asked President Bush on Wednesday to persuade the World Trade Organization to delay the phase-out of a global quota system on textiles and garments.

The administration swiftly rejected the request, which would mean breaking a 10-year-old global agreement to end the quotas on Jan. 1, 2005. . . .

Industry officials said that China and India could swamp the global market once quotas are lifted, destroying as many as 30 million jobs around the world and putting some of the world's poorest nations at risk.

. . . a new international coalition of textile and apparel industries and labor associations from 45 countries is asking the World Trade Organization to hold an emergency session next month to delay lifting the quotas.

Developing nations as diverse as Bangladesh, Mexico and Turkey are scrambling to devise some strategy that would preserve their textile industry without running afoul of global trade rules.

"We need fair trade so the global economy can be disciplined," Ziya Sukun, a representative of the Turkish textile and garment exports associations, said in a telephone news conference on Wednesday with American industry representatives.

"This is not protectionism but a fight against a monopoly by China," he said.
Textiles are the #1 manufacturing industry in the United States, especially concentrated in the American South. But all those folks will just become computer programmers, right? Of course, they could also get jobs at The Gap since the US will be importing so much more cheap clothing.

How about all those folks in Mexico or Bangladesh who are faced with the fact that their market access to the North isn't privileged any longer, and that they're no longer the bottom of the barrel in terms of labor costs? There are no secretarial or retail positions for these displaced workers.

The most important part of this story is that quota elimination is not a simple fight between (bad) pro-quota Northern workers and (good) anti-quota Southern workers. There are more things in heaven and earth, Jagdish, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.


At 9:39 AM, Blogger geopoliticus said...

Well, we are going to see what's going to happen when a global market is "liberated".

I visited the site and they really sound frightened. I also paid a visit to site and I found that there is no such hysteria about the chinese.

My impression generally is that the countries of the South that don't have a huge internal market and placed huge bets on textiles, are going to be devastated by countries like China and India. The impact will be much smaller to the manufacturers of the North.

What 's interesting is the emerging coalition between selected manufacturers of North and South against other manufacturers of other South countries.


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