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    Exporting Clothing - Let the Seller Beware


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 3/2005

    Photo: photos.com

    The abolition on 1 January 2005 of the 42-year-old system of quotas for exports of textiles and clothing has led to the biggest buyer's market in history.

    From a situation where normal market rules of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) applied, we have moved to "caveat venditor", where unwary or unprepared suppliers will find themselves without clients.

    Hard-hit developing countries are struggling to adjust. Under pressure from buyers, the international clothing industry is moving towards a service industry. What the buyer ­­- large retail companies in Europe or North America - used to do yesterday, the clothing manufacturer has to do today.

    The two major services that buyers ask for are sourcing materials and using electronic means to facilitate trade. The articles in this section deal with these key services, and help manufacturers in developing countries understand the new rules of the game and learn to play it better.

    An article on sourcing explains the background to the main service that buyers now require and the skills manufacturers need to compete. Two case studies, dealing with major retailers in France and the United States, explore how information technology is changing the face of buyer-supplier relations. Finally, a story in our continuing "Portraits of Trade Development" series shows how a Kazakh clothing maker upgraded its services and attracted a Swiss partner.

    Contributors: Natalie Domeisen, Matthias Knappe, Prema de Sousa, ITC; Paul Ress, ITC consultant