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'Expect protectionism measures' - CEO, Clothesource
Nov '08
Mr Mike Flanagan, CEO, Clothesource
Mr Mike Flanagan, CEO, Clothesource
With the election of Barack Obama as US President, and the move of free trader Peter Mandelson from the post of Trade Commissioner at the EU, there's been growing talk of protectionism. But the EU and US have just made it a lot easier for many low-income countries to sell their clothes duty-free to both of them.

In the middle of October, a number of Caribbean countries signed Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU, just as outgoing US President George Bush signed into law easier duty-free access to the US for Haiti and Mauritius.

Said Mike Flanagan, CEO of Oxford-based apparel trade consultancy Clothesource: “There are now 30 countries around the world, with well-established clothing industries, and the right to sell duty-free clothes to both the EU and US. We call them the countries with double-barrelled duty-free concessions: western retailers and brands can make clothes there for the world's two biggest apparel markets – often to exactly the same specification.

Speaking at the launch of the new Clothesource Guide to Apparel Trade Regulations, Flanagan added “We think there's a lot of confusion about the departure of Peter Mandelson at the EU and the arrival of Barack Obama in the US.

“Both events might make big new duty-free concessions less likely for countries that haven't got them already. But it's China that Obama and Lady Ashton (Mandelson's successor) are likely to make life tougher for – and China accounts for only a third of US and EU imports.

And anything that's bad for China is good for other countries exporting to the EU and US,” “We can expect to see a great deal more interest in the complicated web of EU and US import duty preferences. Which the Clothesource Guide explains to traders in simple English”.

Clothesource Limited, based in Charlbury, Oxford, UK and Bucharest, Romania, provides the world's leading apparel retailers, brands and exporters with market intelligence on textile and apparel sourcing. Its website has probably the world's deepest and most comprehensive information on apparel sourcing and manufacturing.


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