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Author Topic: The Multi-Fibre Agreement
Babbler # 5062

posted 14 January 2005 08:39 AM      Profile for thwap        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm not sure that I agree with this rather long article from

But it is so rare to actually see a general interest mention of the Multi-Fibre Agreement.

The MFA has usually been presented to me as a bad thing: Developed nations' textile industries are protected from the cheaper products of poor countries with low labour costs. This is good for our domestic textile workers who are mostly working poor, and who cannot, and should not compete with sweatshops in countries where labour "peace" is won by brutal oppression.

On the other hand, some nations have no way to earn capital and develop other than through the world market. Their only comparative advantage is cheap labour and textiles is a building block industry. The MFA hypocritically limits their free market advantage and forces them to a maximum market share in the developed countries. Threats to slash these maximums are often used to discipline poor countries over differences on other issues.

The article linked to above says that the expiration of the MFA will lead to international chaos, as China and India prosper and nations in South America and Africa lose their tiny guaranteed quotas.

Very important international implications.

From: Hamilton | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 478

posted 14 January 2005 08:49 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
There's an interesting article in this a.m.'s Globe and Mail on the impact of the expiry of the MFA on textile workers in the African kingdom of Lesotho. Over the holidays, four or five companies have already pulled out and headed for China, leaving thousands of workers in Lesotho in the lurch.

There's a photograph of one of those workers sewing a T-shirt for the Gap.

This has apparently been Lesotho's major industry until now.

What a totally screwed-up international-trading system.

[ 14 January 2005: Message edited by: skdadl ]

From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 5062

posted 14 January 2005 10:34 AM      Profile for thwap        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Thanks for the further reference. Given the numbers of people affected, this is an event of major international importance.
From: Hamilton | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 5062

posted 14 January 2005 05:47 PM      Profile for thwap        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Shameless self [not really] promotion: Read the link. We're talking about millions of people here:

Among the worst casualties will be many of the nations of South Asia.

In Bangladesh, between 1.8 and 2 million people are employed in the textile trades, 80 per cent of them women. The UN Development Fund expects up to one million Bangladeshis will lose their jobs in the wake of the MFA quota expiration.

Cheap and efficient Chinese and Indian manufacture will likely lead to these huge job losses, which will come in jobs held by vulnerable people. As a trade specialist at Bangladesh’s mission to the WTO said recently, “These are mostly very low qualified female workers who will find it very difficult to find employment in other sectors.”

The economic catastrophe will be much larger, of course, since the direct employment of textile workers indirectly provides further employment of another 5 to 10 million workers (the latter figure is the estimate of the Bangladesh government); one responsible economist suggests the figure will be closer to 15 million. Even more difficulties loom in terms of the nation’s finances. Bangladesh accounted for four per cent of clothing imports into the USA in 2002, and three per cent of the European Union’s import market, for a total of $5.5 billion in export income. Three-quarters of Bangladesh’s foreign exchange comes from these textile exports. Thus, the ultimate effect of the elimination of MFA quotas will be deeper fiscal penury not just for individuals, but for the nation of Bangladesh. And it is not just Bangladesh.

oh, and apparently the follow-up is up:

MFA cont'd

From: Hamilton | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged

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