GENEVA — The head of the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation, a major apparel-industry labor organization, said the planned elimination of trade quotas in 2005 threatens many poor nations with economic disaster and urged World Trade Organization members to push back the phaseout to 2008.
Neal Kearney, general secretary of the labor group, said during a symposium of WTO members here Tuesday that restraints should be imposed on dominant suppliers such as China and India before Jan. 1, when the 147 WTO countries are to drop apparel and textile quotas that have regulated international trade in those goods for more than three decades.
Millions of jobs in small export-dependent nations, such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, may be at stake if major exporters are allowed to surge, Kearney said.
“The WTO has refused to address the issue,” he said. He acknowledged that because the WTO requires consensus from all its members, it will be “pretty difficult to try and unravel a done deal.”
As the end of quotas approached in recent years, he said Indonesia has lost 835 apparel factories to competition from other nations, and in the past year alone Mexico has had shutdowns of 200 production facilities.
— John Zarocostas