Trade liberalisation in the garment industry: who is really benefiting?

World trade is increasingly conditioned by the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In the case of the garment industry this means the phasing out of the Multifibre Arrangement, which has dominated trade in textiles and garments since 1974. This phase-out is seen as benefiting developing countries and criticism focuses on the manner in which the USA and Europe are holding up the process. However it is important to look at who exactly will gain or lose. Not all poor countries will benefit. Furthermore, the main profits from garment production go to the Northern companies who control the industry. These companies will benefit from more open markets and associated competition between global suppliers. Meanwhile for workers North and South this increased competition brings insecurity and the threat of deteriorating conditions of work.