Blog: Leonie BarrieThe downside of globalisation

Leonie Barrie | 15 August 2003

An interesting report in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal highlights the perils that globalisation and a heavy dependence on one industry can have on a former textile powerhouse – and offers a glimpse of what we can expect in 2005.

Mauritius, whose clothing industry was boosted by export zones, low taxes, relaxed labour laws and beneficial trade agreements, is now being undercut by China and India with their pools of cheap labour. Unemployment in Mauritius is climbing as factories close or downsize, but it is Mauritians who are being laid off – not the foreign Chinese and Indian workers. Apparently, the locals don’t want textile jobs – working conditions are bad and they don’t pay enough – while factory owners say expatriate workers are anyway more skilled and diligent.

Competitive pressures are forcing the Mauritian government to turn to technology services in an attempt to move its workforce beyond the garment factories. But ironically, its first Cybercity will be staffed by ex-pat workers from India.

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