NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 21, 2004

American clothing manufacturers are asking Washington to renew import quotas against China so that the industry can "adjust" to the competition. This plea for protectionism should be rejected by the Bush administration, says the Wall Street Journal.

The textile and clothing trade has been a sunset industry in the United States for most of the past century. Today, it employs about 700,000 workers. However, the Journal says quotas on imports just hurt American consumers and only prolong economic reality for domestic manufacturers:

  • Most domestic textile workers will most likely need to find other more productive employment -- while this a painful step, putting it off has not made any less inevitable.
  • The Chinese are primarily taking market share away from other low-cost producers, such as Thailand and Mexico, rather than an already diminished American industry.
  • A free market in clothing will help spread this transformation to other parts of the developing world -- Chinese competition will force governments to improve their economic policies.

Even if workers are protected against supposedly "unfair" Chinese policies, clothes would still be imported from somewhere, only at a higher price, explains the Journal.

Source: Editorial, "Back to the Quotas," Wall Street Journal, October 19, 2004.

For WSJ text (subscription required),,SB109814164302548729-search,00.html


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