Blog: Leonie BarrieCone shows CAFTA confidence

Leonie Barrie | 17 May 2004

Does Wilbur Ross, chairman of International Textile Group, know something the rest of the industry doesn't? It's still questionable whether the proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) will be ratified before the US elections - if at all. So putting $90 million into a new 30 million yard denim plant in Guatemala for ITG subsidiary Cone Mills is a huge risk if CAFTA isn't authorised. Ross says he has signed a "protocol of mutual support for an appropriate CAFTA and for the development of the Guatemalan textile industry," and is obviously confident that the deal will be agreed before the new plant opens in summer 2005. If CAFTA is eventually adopted then Ross will be one step ahead of the competition with one of the few large scale denim mills in the region. And he's definitely betting that Central America will retain a share of the global apparel business once quotas are lifted - and that demand for western-style jeans will continue to grow.


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