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"This has a profound effect on people's sourcing decisions right now," said Delaney. "Without knowing what's going to happen in China, we have to look elsewhere."
Vendors often need eight or nine months to make sourcing decisions and can ill afford to get caught with goods in China that can't be brought to market.
"The overall hope was that it would be an orderly transition," said Delaney. "It's disheartening that they haven't figured out a more managed way to deal with this."
WINNERS: Countries that have seen the largest dollar increase in textile and apparel imports since quotas were dropped on Jan. 1.
Up $1.8 billion
The world's most-populous country heads the list of gainers and has become the buzzword when it comes to international trade and apparel sourcing because of its girth and immense pool of low-cost labor. China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, but agreed to a safeguard provision that allows quotas to be reimposed to protect domestic industries. Both the U.S. and the European Union are reviewing whether to implement the safeguards, which could be renewed until 2008. There are persistent calls for China to curtail subsidies to its industry and allow its currency to fluctuate on the open market. The country has also come under pressure from the Bush Administration to strengthen its enforcement of laws that protect intellectual property rights.
Population: 1.31 billion
Labor Force: 761 million
Per Capita Gross Domestic Product: $5,600
Industrial Production Growth Rate: 17.1 percent
Up $258 million
If China is the biggest blip on the industry's sourcing radar, India, right next store and nearly as immense, comes in a close second. India has been a member of the WTO since 1995 and is considered a developing nation, meaning it gets special consideration in the current round of global trade talks. As Indian imports rise, the U.S. government has pressured the country to be more open to U.S. goods, noting that it has one of the most heavily protected textile markets in the world.
Population: 1.08 billion
Labor Force: 482 million
Per Capita Gross Domestic Product: $3,100
Industrial Production Growth Rate: 7.4 percent