UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) — Digging Deeper CIX 2010, 7:00 p.m.

January 11,

Pietra Rivoli, The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade (Hoboken, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 2005). [Thesis. A deep exploration of the Tshirt industry shows that while the proclamations of anti-globalization protestors are often simplistic, there is substance to many of their concerns and a great need for their continued activities. Subsidiary theme: Because of powerful divergent interests, "numbingly complex trade policy outcomes" (158) have characterized the textile and apparel industry.] Preface. Inspired by witnessing an antiglobalization campus protest, Rivoli's inquiry into the story behind her T-shirt led her to a more nuanced view of globalization; she agrees with Peter Dougherty that "markets depend for their very survival on various forms of the backlash" to them (xv; xi-xvi). Prologue. "My T-shirt," bought for $5.99 in Fort Lauderdale, manufactured by Sherry Manufacturing of Miami, from a shirt made by Shanghai Knitwear from Texas cotton (xvii-xxi). PART I: KING COTTON: HOW AMERICA HAS DOMINATED THE GLOBAL COTTON INDUSTRY FOR 200 YEARS Ch. 1: Reinsch Cotton Farm, Smyer, Texas. While the U.S. dominance of the cotton industry cannot be entirely explained from government subsidies, "[f]or 200 years, U.S. farmers have had in place an evolving set of public policies that allow them to mitigate the important competitive risks inherent in the business of growing and selling cotton" (7; 3-8). Ch. 2: The History of American Cotton: Winning by Ducking the Labor Markets. The first such policy was slavery (11-15). Eli Whitney's cotton gin (15-17). Other countries lacked the property rights and incentive structures needed to respond to the spectacular growth in demand for cotton (17-19). When slavery ended, sharecropping ensured a labor supply (19-22). In Texas and Oklahoma, the company town served the same function (22-24). Ch. 3: Back at the Reinsch Farm: All God's Dangers Ain't the Subsidies. West Texas cotton embraced tractors from the mid-1920s on (25-30). The Bracero program, the product of political influence, enabled cotton farmers to avoid competitive markets" (31; 30-32). In the early 1930s the New Deal's Agricultural Adjustment Act introduced price supports (32-34). Mechanical cotton picking, and later defoliants, arrived, with the help of governmentsponsored research, after WWII (34-38). USDA and university scientists mechanized other jobs away (39-40). Gin co-ops (40-41). Byproducts (e.g. cottonseed oil) (41-46). Business models to market cotton (46-48). U.S. law provides protection against every "virtually every business risk," including subsidies (49-52). The American cotton farmer "is embedded in a system that protects and enriches him, cotton farmers in West Africa are embedded in a system that exposes and impoverishes them" (54; 52-57). PART II: MADE IN CHINA Ch. 4: Cotton Comes to China. Shanghai and Lubbock, so different, have been linked by cotton for over a century (61-64). State-owned Shanghai Number

36 Cotton Yarn Factory, built in 1944, and its manager, Tao Yong Fang (64-68). "To the consumer, the T-shirt is made of cotton, but to the cotton expert, 'cotton' is like 'snow' to an Eskimo: Because of its infinite varieties, the general term conveys little. So as the consumer thinks 'cotton,' the expert thinks fiber length and fiber color, sugar content, trash particles, moisture, and fiber strength" (67). Founded in the mid-1980s, Shanghai Brightness Number 3 Garment Factory employs people to sew (an activity that has resisted mechanization) (68-70), and sells to Shanghai Knitwear, middleman between Chinese producers and American importers (70). China has been the world's leading exporter of apparel since 1993 (70). But this victory means winning a "race to the bottom"— doesn't it really signify loss? (70-72). Ch. 5: The Long Race to the Bottom. Sweatshops are the product of modernity and can be traced to James Hargreaves's invention of the spinning jenny in 1770 (73-75). Textile production in the Industrial Revolution; predominance passed from England to New England to the southern Piedmont region to Japan to Hong Kong-Korea-Taiwan (and then to China), each time made possible by cheap labor from rural poor made docile by a lack of alternatives (esp. women and children) (75-85). Ch. 6: Sisters in Time: From the Farm to the Sweatshop and Beyond. China's hukuo system (rural citizens required, at first, to remain in the countryside, and later allowed to migrate to a job but not bring their families and stay, and deprived of full social welfare benefits; about 100m Chinese workers are liudong renkou, 'floating people') who ensure a stable, cheap labor force (8690). It's hard work, but better than rural drudgery (or, even worse, picking trash, prostitution, etc.); ironically, mill work is felt by women to be liberating (90-97). Post-textile areas have gone on to better

things, albeit with some casualties (97100). Labor activists cooperate unwittingly in development (100-07). PART III: TROUBLE AT THE BORDER: MY T-SHIRT RETURNS TO AMERICA Ch. 7: Dogs Snarling Together: How Politics Came to Rule the Global Apparel Trade. Auggie Tantillo of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition (AMTAC) and Julia Hughes of the U.S. Association of Textiles and Apparel lead opposing sides in the dynamic political struggle over the important of Chinese-made apparel (111-18). The 2002 U.S.-Caribbean Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA) waives tariffs and duties on import apparel from 24 countries; similar laws favor Sub-Saharan Africa and Andean countries; other rules apply to NAFTA; others to other countries; yet all these are often referred to as "free trade" agreements (118-22). Politics have dominated markets—in general this has been a domain of "Washington politics at its worst," which can be explained by the size of the industry and fear of China; while U.S. administrations mouth support for "free trade," none have been able to implement it in the textile and apparel industries (124; 12238). Ch. 8: Perverse Effects and Unintended Consequences of T-Shirt Trade Policy. However, jobs continue to decline in the U.S. (and in China, too), due to mechanization (139-42). An unintended consequence has been the reduced competitiveness of U.S. textiles and apparel (142-44). The quota system has produced irrationalities and cheating (144-48). It persists because the public distrusts free trade, despite the doctrine's broad support among economists (148-51). Beneficiaries have been "the dozens of small developing countries whose textile and apparel industries were effectively created by the MFA [Multifiber Agreement]" (151; 151-

52). Efforts to maintain apparel markets included a 1700 law requiring those being buried wear "sheep's wool only," and a 1722 law making all types of cotton cloth illegal for a generation (155; 153-55). Ch. 9: 40 Years of 'Temporary' Protectionism Ends in 2005—And China Takes All. Though the current regime is unraveling, the broad historical pattern persists (157-58). Pakistan bargained for loosened textile and apparel import restrictions in the aftermath of September 11—but was ultimately rebuffed (158-61). Though the textile industry is fading, apparel retailers' influence is gaining, and Jim DeMint won the SC senate seat in 2004 supporting free trade (161-64). But removal of the quota system would favor not poor countries generally, but China in particular, in ways that most find untenable (154-72). PART IV: MY T-SHIRT FINALLY ENCOUNTERS A FREE MARKET Ch. 10: Where T-Shirts Go after the Salvation Army Bin. Only when it is discarded does a T-shirt enter a truly free market, in which American exports of used clothing and other textile products dominate the world market and a welter of firms compete in complicated, unpredictable ways (175-78). U.S. recycling features thousands of small family businesses, e.g. Ed Stubin's TransAmericas in Brooklyn (178-83). Most used clothing ends up headed for Africa; T-shirts are sold to African buyers for 2025 cents each; about 30% is junked and turned into wiping rags or "shoddies" (183-87). Ch. 11: How Small Entrepreneurs Clothe East Africa with Old American T-Shirts. In Tanzania, Nyerere's commitment to socialism led nowhere (188-89). The used clothing market in Tanzania (cast-off American or European

clothing is called mitumba), exemplified by Geofrey Milonge's three market stalls and Gulam Dewji's Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited (METL) (190-98). The trade in used clothing is controversial, but there is little evidence that African textile industries would thrive but for the import trade in used textiles, and efforts to ban it only drive it underground (198-207). There is a chance that China may move into the U.S. used clothing export business due to reduced shipping costs to China (20710). Conclusion. While it is not possible to generalize from this industry to globalization in toto, the story of the Tshirt shows that free markets are less of a factor than commonly thought, and that it is less market forces than limits to political participation that are to blame for sweatshop practices (211-14). "I have come to believe in a moral case for trade that is even more compelling to me than the economic case"; trade helps "keep the peace" (214). But while the story shows the protester at the beginning of the book was ignorant of many of trade's blessings, she was right that activism is required to address moral and political issues: "I would tell her that the poor suffer more from exclusion from politics than from the perils of the market"; protest, however, has made a difference; "I would tell her to look both ways, but to march on" (215). Epilogue to the Paperback Edition. Updates on WTO Doha Round talks, the 2005 passage of CAFTA, and European efforts to stem Chinese imports (216-18). Acknowledgments. The "hospitality, kindness, and insights" of people around the world who explained things; Georgetown University, including its student activists; agent Tom Power and the team at Wiley; colleagues who were critical readers; family (220-21).

Notes. 13 pp. Bibliography. 13 pp. 135 books, 110 articles, 18 technical papers. Index. 11 pp. About the Author. Pietra Rivoli teaches at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business. She specializes in finance, international business, and social issues in business. [Additional information. Pietra Rivoli has taught at Georgetown since 1983 and has won teaching awards. Her 1984 Ph.D. is from Duke. She lives in Washington with her husband, Dennis, and teenage children Denny and Annalisa Quinn. A second edition of The

Travels of a T-Shirt was published in 2009. The book has been translated into fourteen languages and has been adapted for the stage by Danish playwright Ditte Maria Bjerg as Shopping and performed in Copenhagen.] [Critique. The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy deserves its success. This appealing and humane volume is deeply researched, well-written, wellargued, even-handed, intellectually honest, and largely convincing—though it appears to have suspiciously little to say about political or economic corruption. Pietra Rivoli offers a fascinating window into the tumultuous complexity of the global economy that turns out, surprisingly to be also a whirlwind history of modern industry, society, and agriculture.]

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