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 south Asian countries initiated a process of preferential trade liberalisation with the establishment of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in 1985. It then took a decade for the region to put in place practical measures to promote trade through a regional agreement. The South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA) came into operation in 1996 with the expectation ofmoving towards a South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), the implementation of which eventually began in 2006.1 Despite all this, south Asia remains a least integrated region, with trade among member countries accounting for approximately 5 per cent of their total trade. Many experts, however, suggest that expanded regional integration beyond trade in goods, together with co-operation in developing supply chains, has considerable potential for growth and development in the region.


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