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Death knell for ITCB?
Aug '10
People come and go, but organizations remain and that's what is normally expected! But to our surprise, a leading mouthpiece for the textile industry representing major producer countries based at Geneva, Switzerland; for International Textiles and Clothing Bureau (ITCB) it is probably a 'curtains call' by the end 2010.

Proclaiming the theme – 'Developing countries working together in the face of restrictions directed against their exports of textiles and clothing,'. Fibre2fashion.com has learnt of the impending demise of this once vocal trade organization through unofficial sources.

Established in 1984, ITCB has actively campaigned and championed the interests of textile and clothing producer countries from Asia like China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and others which faced trade barriers during the quota era.

Since 1961, textiles and clothing were being managed under separate set of rules moving away from the basic framework of trade - then called General Agreement of Trade and Tariff (GATT). Initially with few restrictions covered under the so called Short-term Cotton Arrangement in 1961, further 'obstacles' were added first under the Long-term Arrangement and, later, under the Multi-fibre Arrangement.

As per ITCB website, 'these arrangements derogated from the basic principles of the multilateral trading system. GATT prohibited quantitative restrictions on trade; these arrangements validated them. GATT prohibited discrimination among countries; they justified them.'

Such discriminatory textile arrangements or quotas favoured few countries over most in allowing clothing to enter and access major markets like The USA and Europe till before 2005. The regime led to consequential illegal and uneconomic practices like transshipment where clothing would be shipped from a third country having unfulfilled quotas at the fag end of the period or even at the beginning as few major supplier countries would exhaust their quotas within a short time.

Major supplier countries then would look at such 'havens' or small 'Cut and Sew' countries having unfulfilled quotas from where mere transshipments could happen. These countries in reality never had the means or resources like raw materials and capacity to serve major clothing consumer countries like the USA or Europe, but would simply source them from few major supplier / manufacturing countries and pack them off to their respective destinations simply placing labels and tags on packs.

It was under such preferential treatments or situations that 'rules of origin' came to the fore and here again, ITCB stepped in to raise heckles and profess the cause of producer countries.

The official website says 'ITCB is dedicated to securing the elimination of discriminatory restrictions and protectionism directed against its members' exports. In doing so, it seeks the full application of normal GATT/WTO rules and disciplines to international trade in the sector. It works to uphold the rights of its members and to assist them in their effective participation in dealing with trade issues.'

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