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T-Shirt Travels Review – 9: T-shirt Quotas

Continuing the theme from Chapter 8 about t-shirt trade policy, Pietra mentions “the master narrative, largely unquestioned since the early 1960’s or earlier, was that rich country protectionism for textiles and apparel was yet another example in the long history of rich countries tilting the playing field against poor countries through hypocritical policies.” (164) But it seems that a mistake was made when designing textile trade policies. The field tilted the wrong way. In fact, when the idea of removing quotas got put on the table, many small countries (who benefitted by illegally selling their quota space to China) lobbied against it. In some cases they joined forces with the US textile lobbyists.

But the protectionist policies did end. And China’s exports to the United States have risen dramatically. I expect that to continue until the price of oil/transports makes it prohibitive. But I hope that consumer interest will force diversification in suppliers.