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Textiles

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  • Textile and apparel manufacturing is among the world’s oldest industries. Throughout history, humans have created textiles and garments by hand-weaving animal and plant fibers.  

    Today the global textiles and apparel industry is estimated to exceed $1 trillion in the next five years and employ over 75 million people. Countries that invest in their local textile industry can leverage this strategic sector, which generates higher manufacturing capacity, distributed wage growth, and regional economic interconnectivity.  

    There are many economic and social benefits that come with investing in local textiles industries, but the most notable benefit is the industry’s contribution to emerging economies. With a low barrier to entry, namely low-cost inputs and manufacturing infrastructure, the textiles industry offers a strategic vehicle for developing countries to establish an industrial base from which they can systematically modernize and grow their economies. The industry is considered a “starter sector” in catalyzing economic prosperity and industrialization, as it enables developing economies to invest in higher education initiatives and develop a high-skilled labor force within the textile industry. 

    The textile and apparel industry is necessary for generating relatively high-paying formal sector jobs, reducing poverty, and stemming irregular migration resulting in a more prosperous and stable local economy. In most textile-producing countries, wages within the sector are higher than most manufacturing jobs, suggesting that the textiles and apparel industry is a step up the value chain in the industrial ladder. 

    Additionally, female labor in textiles production is critical, as women make up the majority of the garment industry workforce. For example, 85% of the garment workers across Latin America are women, 85% of Bangladesh’s textile workforce are women, as are 70% of China’s and 90% of Cambodia’s. These staggering percentages translate to over 55 million working women around the world. The textile industry bolsters female autonomy and family health outcomes by providing women with a greater source of income, empowering women’s socioeconomic status in the home and community, and increasing the proportion of household spending dedicated to children’s health and education. 

    By investing in local and regional infrastructure to support the textile and apparel industry, emerging economies can begin the path to reduce poverty, stabilize their economies, work toward gender equality, and strengthening their supply chains. Governments looking to improve their GDP and citizens’ quality of life should consider availing themselves of this steppingstone to economic vitality and diversification.  

     

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