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The Rise and Fall of the Garment Industries in Mexico and the Caribbean Basin
published in Issue 112, July-August 2004
Most authorities agree that China will be the biggest winner after quotas have been eliminated on December 31, 2004, followed by Turkey and India. But the biggest losers could include Mexico and Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) countries. Mexican garment exports to the USA grew rapidly after Nafta was implemented in 1994, but have fallen each year since their peak in 2000. Exports from Honduras also soared during the 1990s. But between 2000 and 2003 growth slowed to an average of only 2.5% a year in value terms.
Mexico and CBI countries rank as the biggest suppliers of garments to the USA after China. But they suffer from a narrow product base. In Mexico, knit shirts, cotton underwear and casual trousers accounted for 74% of all garment exports to the USA in 2003. Cotton trousers and cotton knit shirts alone accounted for 57%. Also quota utilisation data suggest that buyers source from Mexico and CBI countries only after they have exhausted quotas in their first choice countries.
US customers who once bought large amounts of apparel from garment producers in Mexico and CBI countries are already going elsewhere. Such producers, they complain, are failing to offer speed to market and their landed prices are too high—despite the benefit of duty-free entry to the USA. Many US retailers and importers have written off Mexico and CBI countries as failed exporters. But they could become winners if they could reliably offer goods 30 days from the receipt of an order. The technology exists and the customers exist. Only the will is lacking.
Six times a year, Textile Outlook International provides up to 200 pages of expert comment and analysis. A subscription provides an overview of the global fibre, textile and apparel industries. It is essential reading for senior executives in the fibre, textile and apparel industries – and for anyone who is not involved in the industry, but needs to quickly gain an understanding of the key issues.
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