Travels of a T-Shirt Essay

922 WordsDec 10, 20104 Pages
What Would Happen if the New T-shirt Market Operated as a Free Market? The producers in the new T-shirt value chain do not operate in a free market system. Government protectionist measures such as subsidies, quotas, and tariffs have limited economic success to a fortunate few. According to the author Pietra Rivoli, “the winners at various stages of my T-shirt’s life are adept not so much at competing in markets but at avoiding them.” These winners include the U.S. cotton farmer and the China apparel industry. Their market dominance and profitability have benefitted significantly from the political prowess of their government to limit competition. If government intervention was removed from all segments of the new T-shirt value…show more content…
However, this transition will be gradual given the U.S farmers’ advantage in producing more yields per acre and higher grade cotton. With the elimination of U.S. government subsidies, cotton textile manufacturers will pay more for cotton. As the leading buyer of cotton, the Chinese apparel industry’s profitability will be reduced due to their inability to pass on increased cotton prices to their buyers. China’s manufacturing costs had already increased by as much as 40% due to higher market wages and costs with complying with worker and environmental protections. Although China has substantial labor and is accused of utilizing sweat shops to keep their costs extremely low, their increasing manufacturing costs have opened the door to other countries with cheap labor such as Vietnam and Pakistan. Although the Chinese apparel manufacturers would lose profitability due to rising cotton prices and competition from emerging countries, they stand to gain the most from the removal of U.S. quotas and tariffs. According to the author, in 2007, 95% of the 20 billion garments Americans made were purchased overseas. Due to U.S. trade barriers, China’s share of the U.S. apparel import was only 30%. Once these barriers were removed, Chinese apparel would flood the American market due to their low cost and dominance in garment manufacturing. Experts predict that China could eventually supply 85% of U.S. apparel. As they increase their market share in the
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