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Regional trade and production blocs in a global industry: towards a comparative framework for research

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  • Jennifer Bair
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    While apparel manufacturing is often considered the quintessential global industry, the regional dimension of trade and production in the textile and clothing sector is less widely noted. In this paper I discuss two macroregional production blocs: North America (defined as the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean Basin countries) and Greater Europe [which includes the European Union (EU), Central and Eastern Europe, Turkey, and North Africa]. Analyzing what opportunities regionalization might provide is particularly relevant given China’s increasing dominance of both the EU and US import markets in the post-Multifibre Arrangement period. Drawing on the global commodity chains literature, I discuss three dimensions around which cross-regional comparative research on the European and North American apparel sectors can be organized: (1) production model; (2) institutional context; and (3) development outcomes. Several similarities between these production blocs are noted, particularly with regard to the intraregional division of labor expressed by networks connecting firms in higher-wage and lower-wage countries and the coexistence of assembly subcontracting and full-package manufacturing in both regions, but differences include the existence in Europe of a stronger textile base and a more expansive regionalization strategy (as suggested by the Euro –Mediterranean Partnership), which may strengthen the competitiveness of the Greater European bloc vis-à-vis its North American counterpart.

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    Article provided by Pion Ltd, London in its journal Environment and Planning A.

    Volume (Year): 38 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 12 (December)
    Pages: 2233-2252

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    Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:38:y:2006:i:12:p:2233-2252
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