Blog: Leonie BarrieGood morning Vietnam...or good night?

Leonie Barrie | 9 July 2003

It’s just a couple of months since the US successfully negotiated a series of quota curbs on Vietnamese textile and clothing imports, yet the new arrangements have already descended into farce. Recent reports suggest that millions of dollars worth of clothing shipments destined for US retailers have been stranded at Vietnamese ports after a mix-up in quota allocations. Apparently, some factories contracted to fill US orders did not get quota allocations, while others have quotas but no US orders. Others still are believed to have already used this year’s quota allocation.

But it’s not just manufacturers losing out under the pact, signed in April, which set quotas on 38 types of apparel and textile from Vietnam and capped exports to America at $1.7 billion in 2003. With lead times of several months, US retailers are less willing to risk tying up orders if there is no guarantee they will get their garments shipped. Ironically, though, the US domestic industry – which championed so hard for the restrictions in the first place – won’t benefit from Vietnam’s loss.

No, the orders will simply disperse elsewhere in South East Asia or wherever the best prices and quotas prevail.

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