Trade Policy and the Textile and Apparel Industry: Discussion Questions

Global Partners

#1 Why or why not the textile and apparel industry should get involved in policy advocacy?

#2 Do you think the current U.S. trade policy reflects the interests of the U.S. textile and apparel industry? Please provide detailed examples.

#3 It is said that “trade is a way for countries to strengthen partnerships and alliances, promote peace and trust between the cooperating nations, and help other countries in need.” Do you think this principle still holds today?

#4 President Trump proposes an “America First Trade Policy,” which intends to encourage more “buy America” and reduce the U.S. trade deficit. How should President Trump respond if other countries adopt a similar approach by proposing initiatives such as “EU first trade policy,” “China first trade policy” and “Mexico first trade policy”?

#5 What do you take away from Case Study 2 regarding the making of U.S. trade policy?

Please mention the question # in your comment.

Author: Sheng Lu

Professor @ University of Delaware

14 thoughts on “Trade Policy and the Textile and Apparel Industry: Discussion Questions”

  1. I think T&A industry should involve in policy advocacy as many countries also have this industry. T&A industry is properly the top 3 largest industry in the world. When we making policy decision, it will affect T&A industry most of the time, especially now is the global trade period. Also, we learned T&A industry is not only making apparel but also expanded to other industries such as medical, automobile and construction. I think it is necessary for T&A industry to express and involve regarding those relevant policies.
    I think current U.S. trade policy definitely try to protect T&A industry. For example, TPP allows American manufacturer to have better trade with Mexico and other member countries. It will lower their cost and generate more profit with the trade agreement. U.S. government try to help local business to maximize their profit while compressing some of the import goods. However, there always is different standpoint between retailer and manufacturer. It is hard for the government to satisfy both sides in one agreement.
    I do think “trade is a way for countries to strengthen partnerships and alliances, promote peace and trust between the cooperating nations, and help other countries in need.” is still apply today. It is because no one wants a war after what we all have experienced. There is no any single country can stand alone without import or export goods nowadays. Therefore, we need to establish many trade agreement with different countries. The trade agreement can always bring benefit to signed countries and promote their local development. To establish an agreement, it involves many understanding and meeting between sign countries. Usually, they will also build a good relationship during the meeting and become alliance after that. It is important for a country to have as many alliance as they can nowadays.
    I think it is not a good idea if all other countries adopt the similar policy as I mentioned there is no single country can live without any export or import. By adopting this policy, it will only hurt every country and their citizen as they have to bear more expensive good or even a lack of some product due to the limitation of certain resources.

    1. Great comments! It is critical to have the voice of the textile and apparel industry heard by policymakers. As the case study 2 illustrates, always there are many competing interests among various stakeholders on trade issues. And rules of the game matter for the competitiveness and survival of the textile and apparel industry. And this is not limited to the US. If you are interested in, you can further read this great article about the Multi-Fiber Arrangement:

  2. Personally I feel that question 3 and 4 can be intertwined. When trade agreements first came about they were done in a way to strengthen relationships with other counties, promote peace, and help countries in need. I feel that today most of those original qualities associated with trade might not longer truly be seen. Within the U.S even before Trump took office, because both presidential candidates had plans to limit trade from other nations, the country as a whole saw trade as a way of hurting our nation and destroying jobs. This is in-fact wrong, technology and development has been the cause of that. I think that if President Trump goes through with an America First Trade Policy, relations with foreign nations are going to be badly hurt. Why would other nations want to import our textiles when we are not importing their products? It creates a one-sided trade exchange and it will ultimately hurt the textile and apparel industry. Furthermore, other trade regions could adopt similar trade policy’s and it will impact products we can not make in the U.S. Globalization has shaped this world to function on trade and taking away that flow of goods and services could cause larger problems that people do not realize.

  3. #1 The textile and apparel industry should get involved in trade policy advocacy because we live in a globalized market, and free trade agreements, and lack thereof have very large impacts on these two sectors, such as the decisions regarding TPP and NAFTA, which can both help and hurt these industries, depending upon which industry you belong to. It is no secret that even among these two intertwined industries that there is much to disagree about, which is all the more reason why both sides should be able to advocate their stances on policies that can either improve or devastate their businesses.

  4. #1 The textile and apparel industry should absolutely get involved in policy advocacy. It’s such a huge industry that its policies have a chance to make real changes in the world. So many people are employed to produce textiles and apparel; if we treated that as an opportunity to push for policies that demanded better treatment for workers and friendlier environmental practices, we could see real positive changes in the world.

  5. To answer question #3, I believe that trade and business are instrumental in keeping peace between certain nations. One example that comes to my mind right away was when Gail Strickler came to speak to us in class about trade policy and she brought up the QIZ program, which I had never heard of. QIZ works with Jordan and Israel in conjunction with the US and helps to maintain peace in the Middle East. Now this is just one example, but I believe that when nations have business interests in a country, they are less likely to go to war with that country or wish it unwell. Trade also does help nations in need, however, whether it is with good or bad intentions is disputable. When we outsource to a third-world nation for manufacturing, we are teaching those people a skill and possibly giving opportunities to those who have never had them; but at the same time people can be taken advantage of in these situations. Overall, I think that trade helps to facilitate good relationships between countries and does good for the world as a whole.

  6. I think question #4 is very interesting, and really made me think when providing an answer. Trump has been pushing and pushing in his campaign to bring back manufacturing in the U.S. However, I believe that although this is a wonderful idea, it may not necessarily be as feasible as he may hope. First, if an “American First Trade Policy” is proposed then yes, it may slightly reduce out trade deficit. Realistically the cost and number of goods that would be bought under this policy would most likely make a negligible “dent” in our trade deficit, not enough to make this policy successful.
    Secondly, if other countries decided to adopt a similar approach to this, then the U.S. would be hurt overall because we would take a hit to our textile export sector. The most beneficial thing Trump could do at that time would be to reduce tariffs on imports coming into the U.S. from countries. This may lessen the impact if other countries decide to choose a policy where their goods would be favored over foreign-made goods.

  7. In regards to question #5, a lot U.S. trade policy is based on popular and influential brands. While the makers of policies analyze every possible benefit and drawback of each outcome, they specifically look at how each policy is currently affecting brands. It makes sense as to why the police makers are looking at the brands, because it would first affect them. For example, if a trade policy were to change/be adjusted, it would first affect the brands before the consumers. However, it is also important to get consumers opinions/ideas on these topics as it will alter affect them.

  8. I find question number 3 to be the most interesting. I also find it difficult to synthesize just one answer as this is a complicated topic. I do believe that this principle: “trade is a way for countries to strengthen partnerships and alliances, promote peace and trust between the cooperating nations, and help other countries in need.” is still accurate. However, I think that it definitely isn’t as relevant today as it once was. For example, as explained in one of our articles called, “The Strategic Logic of Trade”, some trade agreements used to be made to bring allies together, specifically the trade agreement signed between the British and the U.S. in 1938 before World War II. Nowadays, this is less common. In the 21st century, countries are usually signing trade agreements for monetary reasons . However, I believe it still promotes peace and strength between countries.

  9. I believe that trade has lost its true essence of being helpful for everyone involved, and now is more focused on making money and being the winner. Many countries are only willing to be apart of a trade agreement in order to help themselves rather than helping others around the world. Many people around the world could use these trade agreements to team up with more fortunate countries to help get themselves out of tough times. Unfortunately, while many trade agreements were developed to help other nations, it is becoming more like a game than anything else.

  10. #5 What do you take away from Case Study 2 regarding the making of U.S. trade policy?

    I took away a lot from Case Study 2. I learned that it is not as easy as it seems making U.S. trade policies. There is a lot of different factors that go into these policies. In Case Study 2 we learned that different companies within the same industry have very opposite beliefs. New Balance and Nike and both major players in the footwear industry; however, New Balance is in favor of tariffs on footwear and Nike is opposed. Each brand manufacturers differently so it is extremely hard to come up with a policy that benefits all parties involved. While keeping manufacturing in America sounds like a good idea , it may do more harm than good. The footwear industry has been affected by international trade because competition from cheaper countries is straining the U.S. manufacturing. After our discussion about the case I think it is important to evaluate the opportunity for a whole new sector of jobs if tariffs are lifted or reduced.

  11. #3
    I definitely believe that this still holds true today. Our conversation with Gail Strickler emphasizes how true this is. She spoke about deals with Africa and the effects of our relationships since the TPP diminished, among other things. It is clear how we are a global community and will only continue to become more interdependent on one another. Successful trade policies have mutual benefits for all of the countries involved, and everyone wants to have good relationships when everyone is having a good buy out. Even in terms of Korea and China, China is able to communicate with Korea more peacefully on behalf of the US due to their alliance, and then in turn help us, America. These networks and webs of dependences create a global community that will continue to flourish.

  12. #3 It is said that “trade is a way for countries to strengthen partnerships and alliances, promote peace and trust between the cooperating nations, and help other countries in need.” Do you think this principle still holds today?:
    I believe this principle is extremely true and is one of the greatest reasons we cannot exit NAFTA. The whole purpose of trade is to provide the resources you produce best and receive from countries who produce other goods better. It is a way to help each other out in order to be successful. Through trade we form strong bonds that allow us to participate with these countries in other ways besides the trade of goods. If we were to stop trading countries that relied on us would resent us and this could lead to further more detrimental issues.

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