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Editorial: Protectionism Looms over the Global Textile and Clothing Industry
published in Issue 138, November-December 2008
The economic crisis which has engulfed developed countries—and threatens to undermine much of the developing world—is leading to a new wave of protectionist sentiment.
This wave comes at a time when governments around the world are becoming increasingly anxious that rising unemployment will threaten political and social stability. They are therefore under growing pressure to “do something”.
It is easy in this environment for governments to get away with policies which would have been inconceivable only a few years ago, arguing that—as the economic crisis deepens and widens to include more and more countries—drastic measures are needed. Moreover, protectionism is likely to creep in by stealth as governments introduce stimulus packages which include emergency solutions for dealing with the economic crisis.
For the world of textiles and clothing, protectionism threatens to reverse decades of trade liberalisation. This has included a progressive lowering of tariffs, the phasing out of quotas after decades of controls, and the signing of a large number of preferential and free trade agreements.