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The Multifibre Agreement – WTO Agreement on Textiles and Clothing

Trade Reports

The Multifibre Agreement – WTO Agreement on Textiles and Clothing

The Multifibre Agreement – WTO Agreement on Textiles and Clothing

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Quantitative restrictions to limit international trade in certain goods have existed for a long time already, but in no sector have they been as common and broadly applied as in the textile and clothing industries. Likewise, no other sector has seen such a rigid institutionalisation of quantitative restrictions, which in turn have had very wide-reaching intended and unintended consequences. In fact, quotas in this sector have been the common denominator that has shaped the development path of this industry, and – many would argue – have been the single most important factor contributing to its worldwide diffusion in recent decades.

This paper tracks developments from the early beginnings of quantitative restrictions in the textile and clothing sector, through its institutionalisation leading to the Multifibre Agreement and eventual phasing out under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on textiles and clothing. Trade developments under the quota regime, and post-quota developments, emphasise the impact that these trade restrictions have had and how once again some countries are beginning to make use of measures to counter the threat of surging imports. 

Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce this material for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. All views and opinions expressed remain solely those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the views of tralac.


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