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Editorial: Specialisation: The Key to Competitiveness in the Post-Quota Global Apparel Market?
published in Issue 135, May-June 2008
In previous decades, the competitiveness of a supplier in a country with low labour costs was determined almost as much by the amount of quota held by the supplier as it was by cost.
Western buyers maintained large portfolios of suppliers in different countries so that they could take advantage of quota availability at the time, wherever in the world the quota was held.
Effectively, quota holdings became “passports” to Western developed markets. If a supplier was not part of the “quota club”, it was very difficult to gain market access unless the supplier’s country was favoured with special tariff or quota preferences.
Nowadays, buyers no longer have to scour the world looking for available quota. Consequently, they have less need to maintain a large portfolio of suppliers. Choosing suppliers has become more a question of picking the most competitive in terms of cost, location, speed of delivery, and quality—although compliance with social and ethical standards has also become important.