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End of quota system brings disaster in the textile and clothing sector
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Monday, 22 November 2004
On 1 January 2005, the quota system for the textile and clothing sector is due to come to an end. Since its inception in 1970s, the quota system has long governed most textile and clothing exports from producer countries to the worlds biggest markets (primarily the United States and the European Union). On Nov. 23, 2004, the ICFTU will launch its new report on the social consequences that the end of the quota system will bring. According to estimates, 40 million people are employed in the textiles sector worldwide (mostly in developing countries) and it generates in excess of £196 billion (365 billion US$) a year or 6% of world trade. The phasing out of the quota system is predicted to lead to the loss of millions of jobs in countries which are already some of the poorest in the world.

Industrialised countries are not exempt from the effects that the end of the quota system will bring - a total of 15% of jobs in the United Kingdoms textiles and clothing sector are predicted be lost and in Germany, this figure could approach 13%. The sector employs 2.5 million people in Europe. In the United States, 350,000 jobs have been lost in the sector over the last four years and the ending of quotas is likely to lead to many more job losses. A similar scenario is also predicted for Canada.

Using the examples of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Mauritius, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, the report presents detailed local studies and national analysis of a situation that is creating near-panic in dozens of countries across the globe. The effects are likely to be long- lasting - for example, the government of the Philippines stated that its law on the minimum wage would no longer apply to the clothing industry. The Bangladeshi government recently announced that it would increase the number of authorised overtime hours and loosen the restrictions on womens night work in order to prepare for 2005.

A report is < a href="http://www.icftu.org/displaydocument.asp?Index=991220796&Language=EN>available online on the ICFTU web site.
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