Global trade in textiles and garments was governed from 1974 to 2004 by the Multi Fibre Agreement (MFA), which imposed quantitative quota restrictions on export from developing to developed countries. With the expiry of the agreement on January 1st 2005, there was a huge expansion in the export of garments from the global South to the global North. For the
period 2004 to 2011, export of ready-made garments globally increased by 60 percent.
India’s own share of global garments export increased slightly with the expiry of the MFA, and has since remained roughly constant at around 3 - 3.5 percent of global trade. Asia dominates the global garment trade, contributing to more than half of all garment exports. China is presently by far the largest exporter of readymade garments globally. More than a third of all garment exports originate from the country.
The shift in global supply chain for garments however predates the expiry of the MFA. For instance, in 1992, 49 percent of all retail apparel sold in the USA was made in the country; by 1999 the proportion of domestically made US apparel dropped to just 12 percent. By 2011, 97.7 percent of all apparel sold in the country was globally outsourced.
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