Workshop on Developing Supply Chains in South Asian Textiles and Clothing Export Industry to be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 3rd April 2010
The South Asian countries initiated a process of preferential trade liberalization with the establishment of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in 1985. Then, it took a decade for the region to make some concrete measures for promoting trade through a regional agreement. The South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) came into operation in 1996 with the expectation of moving towards a South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), the implementation of which eventually began in 2006. Despite all this, South Asia remains a least integrated region with the intra-member countries trade accounting for just about 5% their total trade. When it comes to regional partners, South Asian countries appear to be more restrictive than their trade regimes with the rest of the world. Many experts however do suggest that expanded regional integration beyond trade in goods and cooperation for developing supply value chains hold great promises growth and development in the region.
While extended cooperation involving services, infrastructure development, transhipment, etc, have been discussed at different forums, relatively less attention is being given to the potentials for building supply sources based on industrial units located in different countries within the region. In this backdrop, UNCTAD India Office, Centre for WTO Studies, Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, and the Commonwealth Secretariat are jointly implementing a project to assess the prospects for developing production linkages under South Asian regional cooperation. As part of this project, research is being conducted to address the issue analytically and identify the potential supply chains, and stakeholder consultations are being organised to discuss and disseminate the findings.
Rather than following a very general and broad approach, the project looks into industry specific dynamics so that the research can be useful to policymakers and industries. As such, the textiles and clothing sector has been chosen to be first case study. A suitable methodology has been developed to make use of the available disaggregated trade data for the sector. The research maps out the production and export structures in different South Asian countries in order to identify the potential cross-border linkages which are currently not being exploited. The findings will have important implications for export competitiveness and intra-regional trade.
The Dhaka Workshop
To discuss the preliminary results of the analytical research and receive suggestions/feedbacks from the relevant stakeholders, a consultation workshop is being organised in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 3 April 2010. The meeting will be attended by stakeholders directly associated with the textiles and garment sectors such as entrepreneurs, senior managers, and representatives of business chambers, policymakers and trade policy analysts from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.