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The state continued to devote resources to a sector that was labor intensive and required little technology, so that by the 1979 it was one of the domestic industries China was keen to expose to the world as it opened its economy. In 2005, the Multifiber Agreement expired , ending global quotas on the textile and garment sectors and opening the world to Chinese textile manufacturers, including the DRC. Until then, China only made up 20% of the global market as the World Trade Organization tried to protect domestic textile industries. The DRC’s textile industry was already on its knees by then. China, it seems, was merely taking advantage of an opportunity, and became the scapegoat for internal troubles. One after the other, the factories began to close. A merger between the Chinese Cha Textile and Belgian-headquartered Texaf that created Congote in 2005 was supposed to herald a turnaround but failed after only two years , citing the lack of locally produced cotton and the inability to compete with foreign producers. What’s more, the age-old model of selling in local markets by informal traders was hurting the formal industry . Tax collection is difficult to enforce with vendors, so their returns are their own, with little incentive to stock the more expensive local brands over the international imports.
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