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  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: September 2009

4 - Returning textiles and clothing to GATT disciplines


Agreement on rules to reintegrate textiles and clothing under disciplines of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) is frequently regarded as one of the major achievements of the Uruguay Round. Unfortunately, the agreement allowed the industrial countries a great deal of discretion in the manner in which they undertook this reintegration. And, as in the case of the agricultural tariffication discussed in chapter 2, this discretion was used to delay the process of reform.

The extremely backend-loaded nature of the reform program for textiles and clothing has been the focus of much concern for developing countries. Acceleration of the phase-out program was a major demand of developing countries in the lead-up to the failed 1999 Seattle Ministerial and in subsequent discussions. While developed countries have reiterated their intention to fully implement their commitment to eliminate barriers to textile and clothing trade, as promised under the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC), the developing countries remain concerned about the possibility of backsliding. This issue will overhang at least the first three years of the negotiations initiated at the Doha Ministerial, despite the renewed affirmation of WTO members to full and faithful implementation of the ATC (WTO 2001). Clearly, then, it is important to have a clear understanding of the issues involved.

The establishment and abolition of the Multi-Fiber Arrangement

Textiles and clothing have been traded under restrictions whose origins can be traced to the 1930s.

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