Analysis of the Textile and Clothing Industry Global Value Chains

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Dec 2022
The textile and apparel industry is a highly globalized, multi-trillion-dollar sector. Today, production networks are dominated by low-cost Asian countries with very large labor-pools, which has made it increasingly difficult for other producers around the world to compete, including those in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). While the region has participated in the industry, there are currently no LAC countries amongst the leading ten exporters. The COVID-19 pandemic, together with rising geopolitical tensions between the US and China, however, has disrupted this well-established business model over the past two to three years. This creates the most significant opportunity of the past decade to reconfigure the geography of the supply chain; as a small, but long-term supplier, with proximity to the worlds largest single market, Central America is well-positioned to benefit from these changes. Nonetheless, the region needs to upgrade various aspects of their GVC participation in order to become a serious contender in the reconfiguration of the industry. Key policies should focus on developing human capital through industry-specific training initiatives; intensifying investment attraction efforts; and aggressively investing in both hard and soft infrastructure to reduce barriers to trade and enhance lead time responsiveness.