(Views expressed in this article are the personal opinion of the author)
Introduction: What was the Multifiber Arrangement?
The MFA was a global quota agreement that regulated international trade in textiles and apparel from 1974-1995. The MFA was managed under the auspices of the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in Geneva, Switzerland. As a condition of the establishment of the successor organization to the GATT, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the MFA was terminated January 1, 1995. Upon its termination, the agreement was gradually phased out until all quotas were eliminated by 2005.
The MFA was a high-profile exception to the principles of free trade and the operation of the GATT. As such, the MFA was supposed to be a temporary measure. However, the agreement was renewed four times and became a political pariah for all those involved. Although the agreement was meant as a tool for the regulation of global trade in textiles and apparel, the politics supporting the agreement ultimately unraveled the agreement.
Politics and economics became intertwined to undermine the MFA. From the perspective of historiography, this essay will answer the following questions: How has the historiography on the MFA evolved over time? What are the different opinions and outlooks on the MFA, and how do they impact the interpretations of the various authors? Why have different writers come to different conclusions about the MFA?