A new study released today by the Harvard Center for Textile and Apparel Research concludes that the end of the global quota system need not be a fatal blow to the US textile and apparel industries.

"Some might have you believe that these US industries are hanging by their last thread," says Professor Fred Abernathy, Gordon McKay Professor at Harvard's Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "It simply isn't true."

Abernathy and David Weil, principal investigators at the Harvard Center for Textile and Apparel Research, view the US textile-apparel-retail chain as a dynamic, complex industry that has as much to do with geography and ongoing trade relations as it does with the end of quotas under terms of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

For instance, they point out the tariffs on garments will remain in place long after the end of quotas.

More importantly, the stringent demands that modern retailers place on their apparel suppliers result in sourcing decisions that rely on many factors including, but not limited to, direct cost.

Chief among the recent concerns is that goods from China will suddenly flood the US marketplace, wiping out domestic manufacturers as well as other sources of apparel like Mexico.

The research shows other outcomes are more likely.

"The Wal-Mart model that dominates the US retail scene requires suppliers to replenish their products on a weekly basis," says David Weil, Associate Professor of Economics at Boston University School of Management.

"We don't see that relationship changing just because quotas are being eliminated."