Prices for clothing are set to come down, benefiting consumers in Europe and worldwide. The end of a decades-old system of import-export quotas for the world’s textiles on New year’s Day could represent a 270 euro annual saving for the average family of four, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Major producers like China and India stand to gain substantially with the opening up of competition. It means a transformation of clothing and textile industries, and is the cause of serious concern over jobs. For European producers, the answer will be to go for higher quality, and develop niche markets. A number of developing countries, many of which in the past campaigned strongly in favour of abolishing the system, are having second thoughts, fearing they will be unable to compete with the efficiency of Chinese, Indian or Pakistani firms. But some experts downplay the forecasts, noting there will be limiting factors. China, for instance, will still face tariffs that are generally higher on textiles than for other industrial goods. And, in a market of ever-changing fashions, retailers like to keep stocks low to react swiftly to shifts in demand. This will benefit those producers with close geographic proximity to their main markets.