Potential Supply Chains in the Textiles and Clothing Sector in South Asia

An Exploratory Study

image of Potential Supply Chains in the Textiles and Clothing Sector in South Asia
Even though individual nations in South Asia are among the world’s fastest growing economies it is, as a region, the least integrated. This pioneering study from UNCTAD, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Centre for WTO Studies at the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade examines one of the leading manufacturing sectors in South Asia – textiles and clothing – to assess the prospects for developing production linkages through regional co-operation.

The findings show that there is significant unexploited scope for intra-regional trade which would enhance the competitiveness of the region overall. The insights gleaned from the study will also benefit other sectors and regions of the developing world, where regional integration and South–South co-operation might be important routes to trade-led development.




The supply chain, or value-adding chain, is an old-established concept in industrial economics and in the business studies literature, used most prominently by Porter (1985, 1990) and Gereffi and Korzeniewicz (1994). Like all uses of the chain metaphor, its value lies in its emphasis on the sequential and interconnected structures of economic activities, with each link or element in the chain adding value to the process.More recently, supply chains have been embedded in development theory and a stream of literature has emerged that highlights and provides evidence of the developmental role played by global and regional supply chains. Neil et al. (2004) argue that economies of scale and scope within specific regions are only advantageous to those regions – and bring about regional development – insofar as such region-specific economies can complement the strategic needs of translocal actors situated within global production networks. Studies such as that of Smith (2003) on the clothing sector in Slovakia andNadvi and Thoburn (2004) on Vietnam’s textiles and garment industry provide evidence of the developmental role played by supply chains for these countries.


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