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This may seem counterintuitive; after all, the MFA was a quota program designed to restrict trade.
However, the MFA had the effect of scattering trade as sourcing companies in Europe, the US and elsewhere scrambled to stay one step ahead of new quotas, reaching into corners of the world where clothing manufacturing was only just beginning to take hold.
For sure, more stuff is exported than ever, only that the kinds of products shipped are things like jeans, sweaters, woven shirts and T-shirts.
Gone are the days of ever-increasing exports of tailored clothing; they've been lost to changing fashion, at least when compared to sportswear. For the purposes of this analysis, we begin with the two major importing markets of the European Union and the United States.
For example, HS codes beginning with '61' mean an apparel product is knitted, while codes beginning with '62' convey that products are woven.
Then there are four- and six-digit levels of classification; some countries, like the US take their classifications to an even more granular level with 10-digit levels of classification.
In the case of knitted versus woven apparel exports, both China and Bangladesh export nearly equal amounts of each.
However, Vietnam exports far more woven apparel than knits, largely due to how its industry developed as an alternative to China as a cut and sew centre.
Further, Turkey was not in the top ten list of suppliers to the US.Although apparel imports rose sharply in both markets, the rate of growth has lessened in recent years.In both cases, market saturation plays a major role; after all, people will only buy so much clothing in a given year and, after years of heavy spending, consumers appear to be taking a rest.In 2016, the US imported about USbn worth of apparel, which compares to just USbn in 2001, an increase of nearly 45%.
Similarly, the EU imported USbn of apparel in 2015 compared to nearly USbn in 2001, a growth of about 143%.For the purposes of this product analysis, we will use 4-digit classifications.