Technical ReportPDF Available

Bahrain's Position in the Global Apparel Value Chain: How the U.S.-Bahrain FTA and TPLs Shape Future Development Options

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

This report analyzes the situation of Bahrain’s industry and its prospects in light of the looming TPL expiration. The Bahraini industry oriented to the U.S. market contains two distinct segments: textile manufacturers, which own spinning, weaving and finishing mills in Bahrain, and rely on TPL for a relatively small portion (just over a third) of the final products they exports to the United States; and apparel companies, which currently rely on TPL for 100% of their garment exports to the United States, since these contain fabrics and yarn from third party countries, such as China. The apparel companies currently exporting to the U.S. from Bahrain are owned by foreign firms, they employ predominantly migrant workers from South Asia, and they have other production locations in the Gulf region, including Jordan and Egypt. Consequently, if garment manufacturers are unable to receive duty-free access to the U.S. market once TPLs expire in 2016, they are unlikely to stay in the country, in contrast to the textile companies, whose investments in Bahrain are far more significant. The report contains a series of recommendations regarding different ways in which Bahrain might continue to receive limited exemptions from the yarn-forward rules of origin after 2016. These proposals include, but are not limited to, an extension of the current benefit.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Bahrain’s Position in the Global
Apparel Value Chain:
How the U.S.-Bahrain FTA and TPLs Shape Future
Development Options
Jennifer Bair
1
Stacey Frederick
2
Gary Gereffi
3
Report prepared for the Embassy of Bahrain, Washington, DC
4
January 2016
1
Associate Professor, University of Colorado, Boulder
2
Research Scientist, Duke University, Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness (Duke CGGC)
3
Director, Duke CGGC; Professor, Duke University
4
This research was conducted for the Embassy of Bahrain, Washington, DC. The report is based on primary data
collected via fieldwork in Bahrain during September 2015, as well as secondary information sources. The authors
would like to thank all the interviewees, who gave generously of their time and expertise. The views expressed in
this report are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Embassy of Bahrain.
2
Table of Contents
Executive Summary ........................................................................................................................ 3
1. The Apparel Value Chain in a Post-Quota World .................................................................. 5
2. Mapping Trade Policy: Rules of Origin and Preferential Trade Regimes .............................. 8
2.1. Bahrain-U.S. FTA and TPL ............................................................................................. 9
2.2. Other U.S. FTAs with countries in the MENA region ................................................... 12
3. Profile of Bahrain’s Textile and Apparel Industry ............................................................... 15
3.1. Profile of Bahrain’s Export Sector ................................................................................. 16
3.2. Profile of Bahrain’s Textile & Apparel Exports and Imports ........................................ 18
3.3. Firm Profiles based on Interviews: Production and Employment ................................. 21
4. Making the Connections: Linkages between Bahrain and the U.S. Textile Industry ........... 26
5. Conclusions: Main Findings and Recommendations ............................................................ 30
5.1. Main Findings ................................................................................................................ 30
5.2. Recommendations for Maintaining TPLs ...................................................................... 31
6. Recommendations for Work-Arounds to the Yarn-Forward Rule of Origin ..................... 33
References ..................................................................................................................................... 36
List of Tables
Table 1: U.S. Apparel Imports from Leading Suppliers, by Value, 2004-2014 ............................. 6
Table 2: Bahrain TPL Fulfilment Rates, by SME, 2010-2015 (YTD, Sept. 20) .......................... 10
Table 3: U.S. Textile and Apparel Imports from Bahrain ............................................................ 11
Table 4: U.S. Apparel Imports: MENA Suppliers, by Value, 2004-2014 .................................... 13
Table 5: U.S. FTA Partners Imports of Yarn/Thread and Fabric from the U.S., 2004-2014 ....... 14
Table 6: Bahrain’s Top Five Apparel Domestic Export Markets in 2014, by Value, 2004-14 .... 19
Table 7: Bahrain's Textile Component Imports by Sector, by Value, 2004-2014 ........................ 20
Table 8: Top Five Fabric Import Countries for Bahrain by Year, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2012-14 .... 20
Table 9: Bahrain's Top Six Yarn & Thread Suppliers, by Value, in 2004-2014 .......................... 21
Table 10: Employment in Bahrain’s Textile and Apparel Factories, 2008-2015 ......................... 24
Table 11: Potential Capacity of U.S. to Meet Bahrain’s Fabric Needs ........................................ 28
Table 12: Potential Capacity of Regional Yarn and Fabric Producers to Supply Bahrain ........... 29
List of Figures
Figure 1: Textile-Apparel Value Chain .......................................................................................... 7
Figure 2: Composition of Bahrain’s Domestic Exports, by Value ($, Billions), 2014 ................. 17
Figure 3: U.S.-Bahrain Trade Balance, All Products and Textiles and Apparel, 2004-2014 ....... 17
Figure 4: HS Codes with Bahrain Positive Trade Balance with USA, 2014 ................................ 18
Figure 5: Bahrain’s Textile and Apparel Domestic Exports by Value ($, Millions) by Segment,
2014............................................................................................................................................... 19
Figure 6: Share of Bahrain's Fabric Imports by Primary Material, 2004-2014 ............................ 21
Figure 7: Bahrain’s Footprint in the U.S.-Focused Textile and Apparel Value Chain ................. 24
3
Executive Summary
5
In 2006, the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement (FTA) went into effect. The FTA establishes
rules of origin that determine whether exports from one country qualify for duty-free access
when imported into the other. For textiles and apparel, the rule is a so-called “yarn-forward” rule,
meaning that home textiles and apparel exported from Bahrain receive duty-free access to the
U.S. market if they are 1) sewn in Bahrain from 2) fabrics knit or woven in the United States that
3) contain yarns spun in Bahrain or the United States. Thus, the rule of origin requires at least
three links in the value chain to be located in either Bahrain or the United States in order for
textile goods to be considered as originating in the free trade area.
For the last nine years, the majority of Bahrain’s textile and apparel exports have entered the
U.S. market duty-free under a provision of the FTA called Tariff Preference Levels (or TPLs). In
recognition of Bahrain’s limited domestic yarn and fabric production, the TPLs provide an
exception to the yarn-forward rule of origin by allowing Bahrain to export a designated volume
of home textiles and apparel that contain yarn or fabric from third-party countries. Under the
FTA, the TPLs expire in July 2016. Once they expire, imports in the U.S. from Bahrain will
either have to meet the FTA’s rules of origin or be subject to the Most Favored Nation (MFN)
duty. Since textile and apparel production is a key activity for Bahrain’s small manufacturing
sector, and one of the only manufacturing industries with which Bahrain has a positive trade
balance with the United States, the loss of the TPL benefit is of concern not only to firms and
workers in the region, but also to the Bahraini government.
Our report analyzes the situation of Bahrain’s industry and its prospects in light of the looming
TPL expiration. One of the key findings is that the part of the Bahraini industry oriented to the
U.S. market contains two distinct segments: textile manufacturers, which own spinning, weaving
and finishing mills in Bahrain, and rely on TPL for a relatively small portion (just over a third) of
the final products they exports to the United States; and apparel companies, which currently rely
on TPL for 100% of their garment exports to the United States, since these contain fabrics and
yarn from third party countries, such as China. The apparel companies currently exporting to the
U.S. from Bahrain are owned by foreign firms, they employ predominantly migrant workers
from South Asia, and they have other production locations in the Gulf region, including Jordan
and Egypt. Consequently, if garment manufacturers are unable to receive duty-free access to the
U.S. market once TPLs expire in 2016, they are unlikely to stay in the country, in contrast to the
textile companies, whose investments in Bahrain are far more significant. We therefore make a
series of recommendations regarding different ways in which Bahrain might continue to receive
limited exemptions from the yarn-forward rules of origin after 2016. These proposals include,
but are not limited to, an extension of the current benefit.
Moreover, maintaining the viability of textile and apparel manufacturing in Bahrain will require
aggressive steps to integrate the value chain in the region. Ultimately, TPLs will not sustain the
5
Note: trade data values for the textile and apparel industry vary in this report due to the use of different sources.
For example, the value of Bahrain’s exports to the United States does not match U.S. imports from Bahrain.
Similarly, U.S. trade data available from OTEXA (Office of Textiles and Apparel, U.S. Department of Commerce)
use slightly different categories for textiles and apparel than we use in other sections; however, only data from
OTEXA can show the value of imports under FTAs and TPLs.
4
competitiveness of Bahrain’s industry, nor will they encourage linkages between the small
number of firms oriented to the U.S. market and the set of manufacturers in Bahrain that are
exporting to faster-growing markets in the Gulf. Another key finding is that there is yarn and
fabric manufactured in the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region, including in Bahrain.
Exploring the degree to which this production could serve the needs of Bahrain’s U.S.-oriented
manufacturers should be a key priority for government and industry stakeholders in Bahrain.
Our recommendations also highlight the importance of reconfiguring supply chains within the
Gulf region so that, in the future, Bahrain’s exports will be FTA compliant. In addition to
proposing an expedited short-supply mechanism under the existing FTA, possible strategies
include: developing additional yarn and textile production in Bahrain; forging linkages between
existing producers and exporters; and pursuing cumulation agreements that would allow Bahraini
manufacturers to use inputs from other countries in the region with which the U.S. has existing
FTAs or other preferential trade programs. Overall, our report stresses the importance of textile
and apparel production for Bahrain’s broader objectives of employment creation and economic
diversification.
5
1. The Apparel Value Chain in a Post-Quota World
Textile and clothing production has long been an important industry for countries looking to
develop their manufacturing sector. As an initial rung on the industrialization ladder, it
potentially paves the way for upgrading and expansion into other kinds of economic activities.
Historically, it has also been one of the most globally dispersed manufacturing activities. For
much of the twentieth century, textile and apparel production was a mainstay of industrial sectors
across the world, from developed economies such as the United States and Germany to
industrializing countries, such as Mexico and Turkey, and less-developed economies, such as
Bangladesh and Haiti.
In part, the global dispersion of textile and clothing production was the product of an
international quota regime that managed trade in textile products. This system, codified in the
Multi-Fibre Arrangement (MFA), served to protect firms and workers in developed countries by
limiting exports of clothing and other textile products from lower-cost producers in developing
nations. As exports from highly competitive countries were constrained by the quantitative
restrictions established under the MFA, importers were forced to shift orders to those countries
that had unused quota. Consequently, many countries around the world were able to launch small
but significant export industries, even though these economies may have lacked a natural
comparative advantage in textile and apparel production (Someya et al., 2002).
The geography of textile and apparel production generated by the quota regime changed
dramatically during the 1990s. In 1995, the World Trade Organization (WTO) committed to
phasing out the MFA over a ten-year period. With the exception of short-term measures such as
transitional safeguards, all quantitative restrictions on imports were eliminated as of January 1,
2005 (Gereffi & Frederick, 2010). Most analysts predicted that, in a post-quota world, countries
in Asia whose exports had been limited by quotas would see a dramatic expansion in their share
of the world market. China was widely expected to be the biggest winner of trade liberalization,
while experts also speculated that countries that had relied heavily on the quota system would
not be globally competitive in the new environment (Appelbaum, 2004; Diao & Somwaru,
2001).
Among those countries expected to lose world market share because of the quota-phase out were
economies in the MENA region. Someya et al. (2002), for example, argued that in a post-quota
World the Middle East would have few advantages as a production base, given that it enjoyed
neither geographic proximity to major export markets in Europe and North America nor an
abundant, low-cost labor supply. The emergence of apparel industries in the MENA region had
been driven largely by investment from Asian-based manufacturers looking for export platforms
because expansion in their home countries was disabled by quota constraints. In the case of
Bahrain, Pakistani investors played a key role in developing the country’s textile sector (USITC,
2004). In terms of the MFA phase-out, many observers assumed that foreign investors would
abandon such export platforms in favor of consolidating production in lower-cost locations, once
the elimination of quotas made it feasible to do so.
Such predictions proved largely correct. China’s export sector did indeed expand significantly
during the quota phase-out, as the country dominated both the U.S. and European import
6
markets. While the pace of China’s growth appears to be slowing, Asia remains the most
dynamic global region for textile and apparel production. In recent years, lower-wage countries
such as Bangladesh and Vietnam have expanded their world market shares. Table 1 illustrates
this trend for the U.S. market, showing imports from leading suppliers for the post-MFA period.
In 2014, China exported $30.5 billion of textiles and clothing to the United States36.7% of all
such imports. While more than one-third of U.S. imports, this percentage has actually declined
modestly in recent years, down from a peak of nearly 40% in 2010.
Countries in Southeast Asia posted significant gains in U.S. import market shares over the past
decade. The most dramatic case is Vietnam. In 2000, Vietnam’s clothing exports to the United
States were minimal; by 2012, the country’s $7.1 billion in exports made it the second largest
individual country supplier of apparel to the U.S. market, behind China. Though less dramatic,
rates of export growth have also been strong for Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Cambodia.
Table 1: U.S. Apparel Imports from Leading Suppliers, by Value, 2004-2014
Country
Value ($, Millions)
Share of U.S. Imports (%)
2007
2009
2011
2012
2013
2004
2009
2011
2013
2014
World
78,920
66,795
78,775
77,921
80,978
China
25,176
25,367
30,093
29,696
30,482
16.2
38.0
38.2
37.6
36.7
Viet Nam
4,519
5,225
6,557
7,028
8,060
3.8
7.8
8.3
10.0
11.1
Indonesia
4,183
4,031
5,066
4,959
4,996
3.7
6.0
6.4
6.2
5.9
Bangladesh
3,171
3,510
4,392
4,358
4,837
2.9
5.3
5.6
6.0
5.7
Mexico
4,665
3,508
3,963
3,844
3,816
9.9
5.3
5.0
4.7
4.6
India
3,425
3,054
3,370
3,089
3,256
3.5
4.6
4.3
4.0
4.2
Honduras
2,648
2,156
2,694
2,650
2,584
4.0
3.2
3.4
3.2
3.2
Cambodia
2,554
1,946
2,586
2,530
2,552
2.2
2.9
3.3
3.2
3.0
El Salvador
1,522
1,329
1,738
1,839
1,859
2.5
2.0
2.2
2.3
2.3
Sri Lanka
1,664
1,272
1,428
1,510
1,693
2.3
1.9
1.8
2.1
2.2
Top 10
53,527
51,398
61,888
61,504
64,133
50.9
76.9
78.6
79.2
78.9
Source: UNComtrade (2015a); list includes top 10 U.S. apparel import countries in 2014.
Asia’s competitiveness in the textile and apparel sector is often attributed to the existence of a
large, low-cost workforce. However, the region’s success reflects more than a surfeit of labor for
sewing. Today, Asia boasts a well-developed, balanced apparel supply chain, with ample
amounts of raw material (cotton fiber), high-quality textiles, including yarn and fabric
production, and significant sewing capacity. In addition, many full-package manufacturers based
in countries such as China, Hong Kong and South Korea offer design and product development
capabilities as well as logistical services. All of these factors account for Asia’s growth in the
global market, and the region’s status as the preferred destination for many global retailers and
brands (Frederick & Gereffi, 2011).
The upshot is that export competitiveness in a post-quota world requires an analysis of the entire
textile and apparel value chain. Figure 1 shows the different segments of this value chain. While
not all links in this chain “touch down” in each country in Asia, the large economies, such as
China and India, feature all of the production segments in the chain (the green, blue and pink
sections stretching from raw materials to final products). Moreover, the region is cross-crossed
by production networks linking fabric or yarn suppliers in one countrysay, Pakistanto
garment factories in another, such as Bangladesh. From the vantage point of U.S. or European
7
retailers or brands, sourcing out of Asia enables “one-stop shopping; highly capable full-
package manufacturers can purchase all inputs from regional producers, and have the garments
or home textiles sewn in any number of cost-competitive sites in the region. The co-location of
different segments of the value chain in one region provides numerous competitive advantages to
Asian producers, including lower shipping costs and shorter lead times between textile mills and
garment factories.
Figure 1: Textile-Apparel Value Chain
Clearly, the center of gravity in global textile and apparel production has shifted to Asia, and this
process is greatly facilitated by multilateral trade liberalization. The elimination of quotas does
not necessarily mean that trade policy is no longer relevant in this industry, however. In tandem
with the phase-out of import quotas, preferential trade regimes have proliferated as a new
mechanism for providing market access to exporting nations.
The United States has been particularly active in pursuing bilateral FTAs and other preferential
trade arrangements with countries both inside and outside the western hemisphere. To date, the
United States has signed twelve bilateral FTAs (with Australia, Bahrain, Chile, Colombia, Israel,
Jordan, South Korea, Morocco, Oman, Panama, Peru and Singapore) and two regional FTAs
(North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, with Canada and Mexico, and the Dominican
Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement in 2004, with Costa Rica, Dominican
Republic, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua). In addition, it has implemented a
number of other preferential trade programs benefiting apparel exporters in developing countries:
the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug
8
Eradication Act (ATPDEA), the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA), and the
Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act (CBTPA).
On the one hand, regional trade agreements have not managed to stave off increased penetration
of the U.S. import market by Asian producers. As Table 1 shows, among the top five exporters
to the United States, only one, Mexico, has an FTA with the United States. On the other hand,
the only countries outside Asia that appear among the top ten suppliers to the U.S. market are
countries that enjoy duty-free market access: Mexico under the North American Free Trade
Agreement, and Honduras and El Salvador under the Dominican Republic-Central American
Free Trade Agreement. Without the benefits these agreements provide, regional exporters in the
hemisphere probably would see their U.S. import market share eroded even more dramatically in
the post-quota period.
It is less clear that preferential trade regimes between the United States and countries outside of
the Americas have had a similarly positive effect on export performance, however. We return to
this theme in the next section of our report, after a review of U.S. trade preference programs with
countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
2. Mapping Trade Policy: Rules of Origin and Preferential Trade Regimes
In section 1, we noted how preferential trade agreements shape the geography of textile and
clothing production in a post-quota world. In this section, we broaden our analysis to focus on a
key determinant of whether FTAs, particularly those between geographically distant countries,
stimulate increased trade flowsnamely, rules of origin. Rules of origin establish the criteria for
determining which products qualify for duty-free treatment in the import market of a partner
country (i.e., a party to the agreement). They ensure that the primary benefits of the agreement
accrue to the signatory countries.
Rules of origin may be defined in a variety of ways, including the “wholly obtained or produced”
criterion (common for primary products or natural resources, such as minerals and timber, as
well as unprocessed agricultural commodities), the “substantial transformation” criterion (i.e.,
non-originating components or inputs undergo a fundamental, nature-altering change), the
“tariff-shift rule” (i.e., as a result of processing, non-originating materials shift from one tariff
heading/subheading to another), and/or a “value-added” criterion (i.e., a minimum percentage of
the final product’s total value must come from materials or originating or performed in the
signatory countries).
In addition to the general rules of origin, trade in a particular class of products may be governed
by specific rules of origin. In agreements negotiated by the United States, the rules of origin for
textile and apparel products are one such notable exception. In general, the United States has
sought and secured yarn-forward rules of origin for textile and apparel products in most trade
agreements it has negotiated since the early 1990s. Under the yarn-forward rule of origin, textile
or apparel products must be made from fabric containing yarn that was spun in one of the
signatory countries.
9
The yarn-forward rule benefits U.S. fabric and yarn manufacturers; with few exceptions, the
apparel-exporting countries with which the United States has signed FTAs have limited domestic
fabric production, and even fewer have large-scale yarn manufacturing. Consequently, apparel
manufacturers must import fabric and/or yarn from the United States in order for their finished
products to receive duty-free access to the U.S. market (Bair & Dussel Peters, 2006). If the costs
of U.S. inputs are not globally competitive, compliance with the yarn-forward rule of origin can
dampen the competitiveness of trade partners, transforming what should be a benefit
preferential market access under an FTAinto a liability.
In non-regional trade agreements involving countries geographically distant from the U.S.
market, compliance with yarn-forward rules of origin is especially onerous. The costs and delays
involved in shipping inputs from the United States for processing and re-export are seen as
incompatible with the demands of the global apparel industry, since manufacturers are under
constant pressure from their clients to deliver goods more quickly and more cheaply (Azmeh,
2015).
Consequently, restrictive rules of origin might undermine the potential for FTAs to stimulate
trade among the signatory countries. A recent report by the European Commission, for example,
found a correlation between more stringent rules of origin and a lower utilization of the
preferences provided in the agreement (Curran & Nadvi, 2015). Similarly, the yarn-forward rules
of origin in the U.S.-Morocco free trade agreement may explain why Moroccan apparel
manufacturers have not made more use of the agreement to expand exports to the United States,
thereby diversifying beyond their traditional markets in Europe (Benabderrazik, 2009).
Given the challenges the yarn-forward rule of origin poses for trade partners lacking developed
textile industries, the United States has negotiated limited caveats to it. The most important of
these exceptions are tariff preference levels (TPLs)essentially import licenses that permit
countries to receive duty-free access to the U.S. market even if exported goods contain inputs
from third-party manufacturers of yarn and/or fabric. In other words, exports covered by TPLs
are treated the same as exports that meet the agreement’s rules of origin.
To date, the United States has signed a number of regional and bilateral trade agreements that
grant trade partners a specific quantity of TPLs (measured in square meter equivalents, or SMEs)
as a temporary benefit. These include FTAs with Bahrain, Morocco, and Oman. Below we
provide additional information regarding the U.S.-Bahrain FTA, including the agreement’s
provisions regarding TPLs, before turning to a brief description of similar trade regimes between
the United States and other countries of the Middle East and North Africa region.
2.1. Bahrain-U.S. FTA and TPL
The U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement entered into force on August 1, 2006. Although the
general rules of origin are laid out in chapter 4 of the FTA, special rules of origin governing
trade in textile and apparel products are described separately in chapter 3. Key provisions of
chapter 3 of the U.S.-Bahrain FTA that are relevant for our analysis are as follows:
10
Rules of origin: The general rule of origin for textile and apparel products is yarn-forward.
However, there are exceptions to the yarn-forward rule of origin. For some products a more
restrictive fiber-forward rule applies, while other products are subject to a more lenient fabric-
forward rule. The complete list of these exceptions can be found in Annex 3-A of chapter 3,
“Rules of Origin for Textile or Apparel Goods for [HTS] Chapters 42, 50 through 63, 70, and
94 (USTR, 2006).
Tariff Preference Levels (TPLs): Under the FTA, Bahrain received annual TPLs of 65 million
square meter equivalents (SMEs) each year for the first ten years of the agreement. Initially, the
TPLs were set to expire on December 31, 2015. However, the date of expiration was later
clarified via Presidential Proclamation 9223 (issued on December 23, 2014) and determined to
be July 31, 2016.
Commercial Availability Provision (also known as “short supply”): This mechanism, described
in chapter 3.2 of the FTA, allows the apparel and textile industry to petition for duty-free access
for garments that do not meet the yarn-forward rule of origin on the grounds that the fabric or
yarn used in the garment cannot be supplied by the signatory countries in an adequate and timely
manner or is unavailable from a signatory country in sufficient quantity.
De Minimis: A textile or apparel good may contain a minimal amount of non-qualifying inputs
and still qualify as originating as long as the total weight of all non-originating fibers and yarns
comprises less than seven percent of the total weight of the product. However, the de minis rule
does not apply to elastomeric yarns. Consequently, in the absence of any domestic Bahraini
production, any textile product manufactured in Bahrain containing elastomeric yarns must either
be imported under Bahrain’s TPL allocation, or contain U.S. yarn, in order to receive duty-free
access upon import into the United States.
In the nine years since the FTA went into effect, Bahrain’s textile and apparel exports to the
United States have never exceeded the annual TPL limit of 65 million SMEs. Bahrain’s TPL
utilization ratethat is, the percentage of the annual allocation used by Bahraini exporters
peaked in 2008 at about 60% and subsequently declined. As Table 2 shows, the TPL utilization
rate fell from 53.9% in 2010 to 49.5% in 2014, reaching its lowest point in 2014, when only
40.3% of the 65 million SMEs allocated under the FTA were used. The last row of Table 2
shows the percentage of Bahrain’s textile and apparel exports to the United States each year
covered by TPLs. In the last two years, just under half of Bahrain’s exports entered the U.S.
market under the TPL provision.
Table 2: Bahrain TPL Fulfilment Rates, by SME, 2010-2015 (YTD, Sept. 20)
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015*
U.S. Imports from Bahrain
under TPL (SME)
35,024,336
33,662,142
32,815,923
26,226,007
32,157,469
28,897,331
TPL Level (SME)
65,000,000
65,000,000
65,000,000
65,000,000
65,000,000
65,000,000
TPL Utilization
53.9%
51.8%
50.5%
40.3%
49.5%
44.5%
Share of Total Imports
Qualifying for TPL (by SME)
44%
52%
56%
48%
48%
N/A
Source: OTEXA (2015); Note (*): 2015 represents year-to-date (YTD), January-September 20th.
11
Exports from Bahrain not covered by TPLs either qualify for duty-free access under the rules of
origin established in the FTA, or they are subject to the MFN duty. The amount of the duty
depends on the specific product in question. As Table 2 illustrates, the percentage of textile and
apparel exports that do not require TPLs to receive duty-free accessin other words, the
percentage entering under the FTA’s rules of originhas fluctuated over recent years.
Table 3 shows U.S. textile and apparel imports from Bahrain. We include data for all textile and
apparel imports as an aggregate category, as well as the import statistics for apparel and made-up
items (for example, sheets, semi-finished pillow shams or comforter shells of the sort exported
by WestPoint Home’s Bahraini facility).
6
For each of these categories, we then show 1) total
imports; 2) imports under the FTA; 3) imports under the FTA using TPL; and 4) imports that
qualify under the FTA, not elsewhere specified (i.e. imports that do not require TPL to receive
duty-free access under the terms of the agreement). The remaining columns display the same
data as a percentage of total imports.
Table 3: U.S. Textile and Apparel Imports from Bahrain
Segment
**
Value, $, Millions
Total Imports by Segment (%)
2005
2007
2009
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015*
2007
2009
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015*
(1) Total Imports
T&A
159.5
122.5
150.7
178.8
172.0
177.5
211.5
123.9
Apparel
120.0
69.6
71.1
82.9
92.7
110.1
133.8
73.2
39%
40%
46%
54%
62%
63%
59%
Made-ups
29.9
46.9
68.4
92.0
76.6
64.3
75.9
50.0
26%
38%
51%
45%
36%
36%
40%
(2) Imports under FTA (Total of items below)
Total Imports by Segment & Program (%)
T&A
0.0
117.6
150.0
177.2
171.1
176.5
209.0
123.4
96%
100%
99%
99%
99%
99%
100%
Apparel
0.0
65.6
70.9
82.5
92.2
109.7
132.5
73.0
94%
100%
100%
99%
100%
99%
100%
Made-ups
0.0
46.0
68.3
91.3
76.3
63.7
74.6
49.7
98%
100%
99%
100%
99%
98%
99%
(3) Imports under FTA: TPL
T&A
0.0
70.4
81.3
122.6
124.1
127.5
136.8
91.2
57%
54%
69%
72%
72%
65%
74%
Apparel
0.0
55.7
64.7
80.9
88.7
103.2
106.8
70.9
80%
91%
98%
96%
94%
80%
97%
Made-ups
0.0
11.7
7.6
40.0
34.0
22.7
28.7
19.7
25%
11%
43%
44%
35%
38%
39%
(4) Imports under FTA: FTA Qualifying
T&A
0.0
47.2
68.7
54.6
47.0
49.0
72.2
32.2
38%
46%
31%
27%
28%
34%
26%
Apparel
0.0
9.9
6.2
1.7
3.5
6.5
25.7
2.1
14%
9%
2%
4%
6%
19%
3%
Made-ups
0.0
34.3
60.7
51.3
42.2
41.0
45.9
30.0
73%
89%
56%
55%
64%
60%
60%
Source: OTEXA (2005-2015). Notes (*): 2015 represents Year-to-date (YTD) represents January-July. (**):
Textiles and Apparel (T&A) represented by Category 0, Apparel Category 1, and Made-ups Category 4.
Since the FTA went into effect, between 94% and 100% of Bahrain’s textile and apparel exports
in all categories entered the U.S. duty-free. The percentage requiring TPL varies, both across
years, and within any given year, by category. For total textile and apparel imports, the
percentage entering under the FTA without TPL varies between 26% in 2015 (year to date) and
46% in 2009. When one looks specifically at apparel, the rate is markedly lower, varying
between 2% in 2011 and 19% in 2014. In contrast, well over 50% of the “made-up” textile
products received duty-free access without TPL in each of the years shown in Table 3, with the
percentage ranging from a low of 55% in 2012 to a high of 89% in 2009.
6
Fabric (category 3) and yarn (category 2) are omitted from the table because they account for less than 2% of U.S.
imports from Bahrain.
12
In summary, Bahrain’s textile and apparel exports to the U.S. market have grown modestly since
the FTA entered into force in 2006. However, Bahrain’s export performance was uneven over
the period. Total exports declined during the first few years of the agreement before rebounding.
This trend was more marked for apparel, with garment exports falling precipitously from $120
million in 2005 to $69.6 million in 2007 before beginning a slow but steady rise. Between 2012
and 2014, export growth was much stronger, registering 44% growth over the two-year period.
Nevertheless, after ten years Bahrain’s apparel exports to the United States remain below their
pre-quota level: garment exports in 2014 totaled $134 million, as compared with $164 million in
2004, the final year of the quota regime.
2.2. Other U.S. FTAs with countries in the MENA region
The United States has concluded FTAs with five other countries in the MENA region. Below we
provide a brief description of these bilateral agreements, as well as the United States’ special
Qualifying Industrial Zone (QIZ) initiative with Egypt.
U.S.-Israel Free Trade Agreement: This agreement entered into force in September 1985, and it
establishes a value-added rule of origin. Under this rule, textile and apparel products exported
from Israel receive duty-free access to the U.S. market as long as 35% of the value of the product
is added in Israel. This allows Israel to use fibers, yarns and/or fabrics from third-party countries,
as long as the 35% value-added threshold is reached.
U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement: This agreement entered into force in September 2001. As in
the case of the Israeli agreement, Jordan also has a value-added rule of origin. To receive duty-
free treatment, 35% of the final value of Jordan’s exports must be added in Jordan. Jordan also
enjoys preferential U.S. market access under the QIZ program, which supports the Middle East
peace process by fostering commercial relations between Israel and its neighbors. For QIZ
exports to receive duty-free access, they must either contain 35% Jordanian content, of which
11.7% must come from a Jordan QIZ and 8% must come from Israel, with the remainder coming
from a Jordanian QIZ, Israel, the United States, or the West Bank / Gaza; OR they must contain
20% Jordanian content and 15% U.S. content value (Ahmad, 2007; Kardoosh & Khouri, 2005).
7
In 2014, Jordan exported $30.2 million in textile and apparel (virtually all clothing) to the United
States under the QIZ regime (down from $61.2 million in 2013), as compared with $1.1 billion
under the U.S.-Jordan free trade agreement.
U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement: This agreement entered into force in January 2006. Like
the U.S.-Bahrain FTA, it establishes a yarn-forward rule of origin for trade in textile and apparel
products. Morocco also received a TPL allocation of 30 million SMEs, with reductions in the
quantity beginning in year five of the agreement. The TPLs expire in 2016. In addition, the
agreement establishes a 7% de minimis rule (with the same exception for elastomeric yarn that
applies to the U.S.-Bahrain agreement). It also includes a cumulation provision that permits
Morocco to receive duty-free access for 1,067,257 kg of otherwise non-qualifying cotton goods
each year if the products contain cotton grown in a designated least-developed country in Sub-
7
The country’s FTA with the United States is widely regarded as having surpassed or rendered irrelevant the QIZ
initiative remains in effect.
13
Saharan Africa. However, in the agreement’s first nine years, this cumulation provision has
remained virtually unused.
U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement: This agreement entered into force in 2009. Its provisions are
nearly identical to those of the Bahraini FTA in terms of the yarn-forward rule of origin, 7% de
minimis rule (with the elastomeric yarn exception), and a ten-year period of TPLs for non-
qualifying apparel. However, Oman received a lower TPL allocation than Bahrain; its TPL
regime of 50 million SMEs annually is due to expire in 2019.
Egyptian Qualifying Industrial Zones: In December 2004, the QIZ program expanded to Egypt
with the creation of three QIZs, and additional zones have been established since. Products
exported from a QIZ in Egypt must have at least 35% of the final value-added in Israel, Egypt or
the United States in order to receive duty-free access to the U.S. market. Specifically, Israel and
Egypt must each contribute a certain percentage of the 35% minimum. Initially, both were
required to contribute one-third (11.7%) of this minimum, but in 2007 Israel’s required
contribution was lowered slightly to 10.5%. In 2014, $866.6 million of Egypt’s $1.0 billion in
apparel exports to the United States entered under the QIZ regime.
How have these agreements affected trade in textile productsspecifically, apparelbetween
the United States and MENA countries? Table 4 shows U.S. imports from those countries in the
region with which the United States has an FTA or other kind of trade incentive program. The
yellow cells indicate years for which a preferential trade program between the United States and
the country in question was in effect. Although all countries, with the exception of Israel,
registered higher exports in 2014 than the year the agreement with the United States entered into
force, three countries (Bahrain, Israel, and Oman) have seen their exports to the U.S. market
decline in the post-quota period.
Overall, export performance over the ten-year period shown in Table 4 has been uneven. Jordan
and Egypt were the only countries in the MENA region to claim at least 1.0% of the U.S. import
market in 2014, and for both countries, this represented a slight decline in market share from
previous years. Jordan’s share of the market peaked in 2006, when its $1.3 billion of exports
represented 1.7% of the U.S. import market. In 2010, Egypt’s exports of $837 million accounted
for 1.2% of U.S. imports in that year.
Table 4: U.S. Apparel Imports: MENA Suppliers, by Value, 2004-2014
Country
Value ($, Millions)
Share of U.S. Total Apparel Imports (%)
2004
2007
2009
2011
2012
2013
2014
2004
2007
2009
2011
2012
2013
2014
World
69,963
78,920
66,795
78,775
77,921
80,978
82,986
Bahrain
164
72
74
83
93
110
134
0.2
0.1
0.1
0.1
0.1
0.1
0.2
Jordan
1,006
1,194
791
896
981
1,043
1,135
1.4
1.5
1.2
1.1
1.3
1.3
1.4
Egypt
451
738
778
903
871
804
824
0.6
0.9
1.2
1.1
1.1
1.0
1.0
Israel
349
197
117
93
87
80
81
0.5
0.2
0.2
0.1
0.1
0.1
0.1
Morocco
78
94
61
83
103
115
136
0.1
0.1
0.1
0.1
0.1
0.1
0.2
Oman
133
11
1
3
4
5
8
0.2
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
Total
2,180
2,306
1,821
2,061
2,139
2,158
2,317
3.1
2.9
2.7
2.6
2.7
2.7
2.8
Source: UNComtrade (2015a)
14
In general, rules of origin affect the degree to which export growth is stimulated by signing an
FTA with the United States. Another way of evaluating the implications of rules of origin is to
ask whether trade partners have increased their purchase of fabrics and yarns made in the United
States. Table 5 shows imports of U.S. yarn and fabric by trade partners in MENA. Also included
in Table 5 is Singaporea country that has FTAs with both the United States and Bahrain, and
thus is a promising candidate for a cumulation deal with Bahrain, as we will explain below.
Table 5 shows that MENA countries are not significant export markets for the U.S. textile
industry. Egypt’s imports of $62 million in 2014 were the highest for the region, and yet this
quantity represented only 2% of U.S. yarn exports in that year. Although Morocco has imported
some U.S. yarn in recent years, the yarn-forward rules of origin in their FTAs with the United
States have had negligible effects on imports of U.S. textiles by Oman and Bahrain. Since their
FTAs with the United States entered into force, Oman has imported $1 million of U.S. yarn and
thread, while Bahrain has imported none.
The picture is much the same when looking at imports of U.S. fabric rather than yarn. Again,
Bahrain and Oman have imported minimal inputs from the United States. Israel’s imports of U.S.
fabric have remained steady over the past decade, but for most years, they register as 0% of U.S.
exports. The most significant importer of fabric is Singapore. In 2011, Singapore imported $51
million of fabric from the United States and $35 million in 2014. In both years, these imports
were equivalent to 1% of U.S. fabric exports to the world market.
Table 5: U.S. FTA Partners Imports of Yarn/Thread and Fabric from the U.S., 2004-2014
(a) Yarn and Thread
Export
Destination
Value ($, Millions)
Share of U.S. Exports (%)
2004
2007
2009
2011
2013
2014
2004
2007
2009
2011
2013
2014
World
2,356
2,737
2,721
4,100
4,202
3,737
Bahrain
0
0
0
0
0
0
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
Egypt
16
33
51
62
0%
0%
1%
1%
1%
2%
Israel
26
14
9
10
9
6
1%
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
Jordan
2
1
2
1
5
6
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
Morocco
2
1
2
18
7
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
Oman
0
0
0
0
1
0
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
Singapore
17
11
9
13
10
13
1%
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
(b) Fabric
Export
Destination
Value ($, Millions)
Share of U.S. Exports (%)
2004
2007
2009
2011
2013
2014
2004
2007
2009
2011
2013
2014
World
6,644
7,520
5,563
7,125
7,034
6,779
Bahrain
0
1
1
2
1
1
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
Egypt
9
7
4
7
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
Israel
27
30
29
20
19
22
0%
0%
1%
0%
0%
0%
Jordan
2
4
1
2
2
1
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
Morocco
6
2
2
4
4
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
Oman
0
0
0
1
1
1
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%
Singapore
14
24
29
51
37
35
0%
0%
1%
1%
1%
1%
Source: UNComtrade (2015b); countries imports from the United States
15
We have gone to such lengths to explain the provisions of varied FTAs with the United States
because, in a post-quota world, these agreements provide a potential advantage to apparel-
exporting countries vis-à-vis competitors that have not signed such agreements. Crucially,
however, exports must meet the rules of origin established in FTAs to receive preferential market
access. For trade in textile and apparel products, the rules of origin are designed to internalize
most links in the value chain (such as the spinning of imported fiber into yarn) within the free
trade area; in the case of the U.S.-Bahrain FTA, all these steps must occur either in Bahrain or
the United States.
For Bahrain, as for other countries lacking large-scale domestic production of yarn and fabric,
these rules of origin pose a challenge. One, albeit temporary, solution to this problem is a TPL
agreement, which creates a temporary (in Bahrain’s case, ten year) exception to the yarn-forward
rule of origin for a limited volume of exports (in Bahrain’s case, 65 million SMEs per annum).
The loss of this benefit would be significant, but as we elaborate in the remainder of this report,
the expiration of the TPL is a much greater threat to the apparel side of Bahrain’s industry than
to the textile side.
Moreover, while in the final section of this report we propose multiple strategies that Bahrain
might pursue in order to secure an extension of the TPLs, any additional TPL benefit will also
almost certainly be temporary. Therefore, Bahrain’s ultimate objective should to be to shore up
the long-term viability of its textile and apparel industry and ensure the sector’s contribution to
the country’s broader development goals. There are multiple routes to this objective, including
developing a vertically integrated supply chain in Bahrain or finding other ways to meet the
U.S.-Bahrain FTA’s rules of origin, and/or pursing additional export markets beyond the United
States.
3. Profile of Bahrain’s Textile and Apparel Industry
Like many other countries, quota availability was what propelled Bahrain’s participation in the
global apparel trade prior to the phase-out of the MFA. Data collected by Bahrain’s Ministry of
Industry & Commerce reveal that, since 1980, 35 companies have produced textiles and/or
apparel in Bahrain for export to the U.S. market.
8
All but five of these companies established
operations in Bahrain prior to the final elimination of MFA quotas in 2005.
In a post-quota world, textile and apparel manufacturers in Bahrain benefitted from the market
access provided by the FTA with the United States. Given the limited production of yarn and
fabric in Bahrain, these companies have also been heavily reliant on TPLs. However, the
availability of TPLs has not been sufficient to stave off a decline in the number of textile and
apparel firms operating in Bahrain. Among those establishments that were exporting to the U.S.
market after the FTA entered into force in 2006, 17 are no longer operational.
9
8
The number of registered manufacturing establishments exceeds this number, since a few of these companies
owned and operated more than one factory.
9
It is unclear if the looming expiration of the TPLs and/or uncertainty regarding their possible extension may have
contributed to this decline in the number of firms exporting to the United States.
16
Bahrain is a relatively expensive location for textile and apparel production. Local manufacturers
manage labor costs by employing migrant workers who earn wages that are, in most cases, both
substantially lower than those earned by Bahraini nationals and significantly higher than what
they would earn in their native countries of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, and Pakistan. In
addition to wages, employers cover additional costs for the migrant workforce, including
housing, food, transportation, and medical expenses, where necessary. The standard contract
term is two years, though employers have the option to request a renewal from the Labor Market
Regulatory Authority, the government body that oversees the issuance of migrant worker visas.
Migrant workers are recruited to Bahrain from major textile and apparel-producing economies,
meaning that employers in Bahrain are able to assemble an international, expatriate workforce
with experience in the needle trades. This reduces training costs for employers in Bahrain, but
the absence of local training may also help explain why, among the already small percentage of
native Bahraini workers employed in the sector, very few appear to work in direct production
jobs, such as sewing machine operator.
Due to a heavy reliance on motivated and experienced workers, productivity in the Bahraini
factories exporting to the United States is reported to be higher than that in the home countries of
the migrant workers, and on par with that of producers in Jordananother country that recruits
migrant workers from South Asia. Compared with other apparel-exporting economies, Bahrain’s
non-labor force advantages include a highly developed infrastructure for industrial production,
including a reliable electricity supply, modern ports, and efficient customs processing.
3.1. Profile of Bahrain’s Export Sector
Within Bahrain’s export sector, textiles and apparel is a leading activity. When oil exports and
other primary commodities are excluded, textiles and apparel is the third most important industry
in Bahrain’s export profile, after aluminum and iron and steel (see Figure 2 below). In 2014,
textiles and apparel accounted for 1.1% percent of Bahrain’s domestic exports; this is a decline
from over 3% of total exports in 2004one year before the final phase-out of the MFA and two
years before the U.S.-Bahrain FTA entered into force.
17
Figure 2: Composition of Bahrain’s Domestic Exports, by Value ($, Billions), 2014
Source: UNComtrade (2004-2014b)UNComtrade (2004-2014e); percentages reflects two-digit HS code’s share of
Bahrain’s total 2014 exports. Note: domestic exports equal (total exports) (re-exports).
Textiles and apparel are also important to the Bahraini economy because it is one of a very few
manufacturing industries that enjoys a positive trade balance with the United States. Figure 3
shows that Bahrain’s trade balance with the United States has been negative for five of the nine
years since the FTA went into effect; in two of the remaining years, 2009 and 2014, the
magnitude of the positive balance was small. In all years, in contrast, the balance of trade in the
textile and apparel sector (defined here as HS codes 50-63) was strongly positive.
Figure 3: U.S.-Bahrain Trade Balance, All Products and Textiles and Apparel, 2004-2014
Source: UNComtrade (2004-2014a, 2004-2014c) based on Bahraini import data
Mineral fuels, oils
and their distilled
products, $9.3, 58%
Aluminum & articles
thereof, $2.7, 17%
Iron and steel, $0.6,
Ores, slag and ash, $0.6, 4%
Pearls, precious or semi-precious
stones, $0.5, 3%
Textiles and apparel, $0.2, 1%
All other exports,
$2.0, 13%
18
This point is elaborated in Figure 4, which shows those economic activities in which Bahrain’s
trade balance with the United States is positive. After aluminum, textiles and apparel is the sector
with the largest trade surplus with the United States. This surplus has increased steadily over the
period of the FTA, reaching $204 million in 2014.
Figure 4: HS Codes with Bahrain Positive Trade Balance with USA, 2014
Source: UNComtrade (2004-2014a, 2004-2014c). Note: there is a significant discrepancy between the value of
Bahrain’s exports and world imports from Bahrain. Textile and apparel codes are boxed.
3.2. Profile of Bahrain’s Textile & Apparel Exports and Imports
Within Bahrain’s textile and apparel sector, apparel is the leading export category, accounting
for 45% of Bahrain’s exports to all countries in 2014. Fabric and yarn exports contributed
another $53 million to Bahrain’s export profile. Although this represents 30% of total exports,
very little yarn and fabric is shipped to the United States (less than 1%); most of it is destined for
Turkey (47%), Bangladesh (18%), and Egypt (11%). Textile products, mostly the “made ups”
referred to earlier, round out the industry’s export profile with $41 million of domestic exports,
or 24% of the total. Fiber exports are negligible at 1% (see Figure 5).
19
Figure 5: Bahrain’s Textile and Apparel Domestic Exports by Value ($, Millions) by
Segment, 2014
Source: UNComtrade (2004-2014b, 2004-2014d); percentages reflect the segments share of total textile and apparel
exports from Bahrain in 2014. Note: domestic exports equal (total exports) (re-exports).
Bahrain’s textile and apparel sector has diversified its export markets in recent years, but it is
still highly dependent on the United States. The U.S. import market absorbed 90.5% of Bahrain’s
apparel exports in 2014down from 96% in 2004. Table 6 shows that other export markets
accounting for more than 1% of Bahrain’s domestic apparel exports in 2014 include Oman,
Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Similar to apparel, Bahrain remains heavily dependent
on the U.S. market for home textiles.
Table 6: Bahrain’s Top Five Apparel Domestic Export Markets in 2014, by Value, 2004-14
Country
Value ($, Millions)
Share of Bahrain's World Domestic Apparel Exports (%)
2004
2008
2010
2012
2013
2014
2004
2008
2010
2012
2013
2014
World
177
55
94
57
60
77
USA
170
53
92
51
52
70
96.1
95.7
97.8
89.6
85.5
90.5
Oman
3
0
0
3
5
2
1.6
0.7
0.0
5.4
7.8
3.1
Canada
1
0
0
0
1
2
0.5
0.3
0.2
0.8
2.1
2.5
Japan
1
0
0
0
0
1
0.4
0.0
0.1
0.2
0.8
1.4
United Kingdom
2
0
0
0
0
1
0.9
0.0
0.0
0.8
0.6
1.0
Top Five
176
53
92
55
58
76
99.5
96.7
98.1
96.8
96.8
98.5
Sources: UNComtrade (2004-2014b, 2004-2014d). Note: domestic exports equal (total exports) (re-exports).
While Bahrain’s primary export category is apparel, its main import category is fabric. Although
there is a textile manufacturer in Bahrain producing apparel fabric (Orta Anadolu, which we
discuss in the next section), the company is not currently supplying any local manufacturers, and
is instead exporting all of its production. Moreover, since this company only produces denim,
and local manufacturers are producing apparel from other kinds of fabric, Bahrain’s clothing
industry is heavily reliant on textile imports to fuel the country’s apparel exports. Fabric imports
$77, 45%
$53, 30%
$41, 24%
$1, 1%
Apparel Textiles (Fabric and Yarn)
Textile Products Fibers
20
reached a high of $128 million in 2014. Bahrain also imports yarn and thread, though in more
modest percentages, as shown in Table 7.
Table 7: Bahrain's Textile Component Imports by Sector, by Value, 2004-2014
Sector
Value ($, US Millions)
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
Fabric
98
88
51
56
83
58
77
96
82
83
128
Yarn & Thread
45
40
23
24
55
27
53
32
23
24
40
Fibers
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Total
143
129
74
80
138
85
130
128
105
107
168
Source: UNComtrade (2015b)
Table 8 lists the major fabric suppliers to Bahrain. China is the leading source of fabric for
apparel manufacturers in Bahrain, accounting for between one-third and one-half of fabric
imports, depending on the year. Romania emerged as an important supplier of textiles in 2014,
contributing 18% of the fabric imported by Bahrain. Turkey, Pakistan and India also consistently
rank among the top five suppliers, with additional fabric imports coming from South Korea,
Thailand, Japan, and Hong Kong.
Table 8: Top Five Fabric Import Countries for Bahrain by Year, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2012-14
Country/ Region
Value ($, Millions)
Share of Bahrain’s Fabric Imports (%)
2004
2007
2009
2012
2013
2014
2004
2007
2009
2012
2013
2014
World
98.5
56.2
57.7
82.1
82.6
127.6
China
32.2
21.7
26.3
42.6
43.9
54.7
33
39
46
52
53
43
Romania
--
--
--
--
--
22.6
--
--
--
--
--
18
Turkey
5.7
--
4.9
10.0
6.6
16.2
6
--
9
12
8
13
Pakistan
8.2
4.4
3.8
--
6.8
7.2
8
8
7
--
8
6
Rep. of Korea
--
2.8
--
4.8
3.9
5.8
--
5
--
6
5
5
India
15.5
6.8
5.1
4.5
4.2
--
16
12
9
5
5
--
Thailand
--
--
1.2
2.2
--
--
--
--
2
3
--
--
Japan
--
4.5
3.9
--
--
--
--
8
7
--
--
--
China, Hong Kong SAR
15.2
3.2
--
--
--
--
15
6
--
--
--
--
Top Five
76.8
43.5
45.2
64.1
65.4
106.4
78
77
78
78
79
83
USA
0.5
0.6
0.5
1.6
1.2
1.2
0
1
1
2
2
1
Source: UNComtrade (2015b); all fabric codes; Note (--):country was not a top five supplier in the given year.
Bahrain’s textile imports are dominated by woven fabrics, which accounted for 88% of all textile
imports in 2014. Fabric imports are split between cotton and man-made fiber (MMF) fabrics. As
Figure 6 shows, the composition of fabric imports varies from year to year. Imports of MMF
fabric have grown slowly over the last decade, before rising sharply in 2014 to account for over
half (52%) of all fabric imports, with cotton fabrics comprising the remaining 39%.
21
Figure 6: Share of Bahrain's Fabric Imports by Primary Material, 2004-2014
Source: UNComtrade (2015b); all fabric codes. Numbers in the bars represent shares by material for each year.
Turning from imports of fabric to imports of yarn, Pakistan and India consistently rank among
Bahrain’s top suppliers of yarn and thread. Table 9 shows that, in 2014, these two countries
accounted for $32 million of Bahrain’s $40 million of yarn and thread imports, with much
smaller quantities coming from China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Oman.
Table 9: Bahrain's Top Six Yarn & Thread Suppliers, by Value, in 2004-2014
Country/
Region
Value ($, Millions)
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
World
45
40
23
24
55
27
53
32
23
24
40
Pakistan
7
8
7
13
23
11
16
16
8
12
17
India
29
22
10
7
21
3
16
9
9
6
15
China
0
0
1
0
1
0
2
2
1
1
3
Egypt
0
2
3
0
1
5
6
3
2
2
1
Saudi Arabia
0
1
1
1
0
0
0
1
1
1
1
Oman
1
1
0
0
1
0
0
1
1
1
1
Sum of Above
37.4
34.5
21.8
21.5
45.9
19.9
40.7
31.1
21.3
22.5
38.1
Source: UNComtrade (2015b); all yarn and thread codes. Note: table includes countries that were in the top five any
year between 2011 and 2014.
3.3. Firm Profiles based on Interviews: Production and Employment
In this section, we provide profiles of the four firms in Bahrain that currently export directly to
the United States. These include three apparel manufacturers as well as one producer of home
textiles. We also examine a fifth companya textile millthat is converting yarn into fabric for
the home textile producer. After providing brief profiles of each firm, including basic production
and employment information, we analyze these companies’ supply chains. Our examination of
the types of inputs these companies are importing underscores the degree to which they are
dependent on the TPL provision of the U.S.-Bahrain FTA.
18 21 15 21 27 26 34 34 36 32 66
76 60 32 29 39
24 34 49 34 40 50
574616 8912 12 10 11
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Share of Fabric Imports
Year
MMF Cotton All Other Materials
22
Ambattur Clothing International: Ambattur manufactures women’s dress trousers for U.S.
brands, both via direct sourcing and via its relationship with the world’s largest trading house, Li
& Fung. The parent company, also called Ambattur Clothing International, is headquartered in
India, and was established in 1981. Ambattur has been in Bahrain since 2001, and its factory
there currently employs 1,450 people, of whom 848 (or 12%) are Bahraini. Additionally,
Ambattur has two production facilities in Bangladesh, two in India, and one in Jordan. The
production volume of the Bahraini facility is 300,000 pieces per month, all of which is exported
to the United States.
M.R.S. Fashions: M.R.S. Fashions is the Bahraini branch of Must Garments, a company
headquartered in Hong Kong. M.R.S. Fashions initiated operations in Bahrain in 2000, and
opened a second factory in 2014. These factories manufacture women’s dress and casual
trousers, including denim and twill plants. It has been doing business with its main client, a large
U.S. retailer with multiple private label brands, since 2001. The two Bahraini factories employ
2,294 workers, of which 2,080 are migrants (mostly from Bangladesh) and 214 are Bahraini
nationals. The current, combined production volume of the Bahraini factories is 1 million
garments per month. Must Garments also owns and operates two production facilities in
Bangladesh, which employ 10,000 workers, and textile mills in China. Between 2006 and 2010,
Must Garments also had production facilities in Egypt. This plant is not currently operational,
but the company pays rent on the building and hopes to reopen at some point.
Noble Garments: Noble Garments’ parent firm is a company called Neelkemal International
Traders, based in Dubai, and it has interests in multiple industries other than apparel
manufacturing. Noble Garment has been producing in Bahrain since 2001. The parent firm’s
production in Dubai was discontinued after the quota phase-out in 2005. In addition to the
facility in Bahrain, it operates a factory in Kenya and inaugurated production in Jordan on
November 11, 2015. Noble Garments makes men’s dress pants from synthetic fabrics, and 95%
of its production is for its main client, a U.S. menswear brand. The company employs 800 people
in Bahrain of whom 100 are Bahraini. The production volume of the factory in Bahrain is
210,000 pieces per month
WestPoint Home Bahrain: Unlike the three companies described above, WestPoint Home
Bahrain is a manufacturer of home textiles, not apparel. Its parent company, WestPoint Home, is
based in the United States and has a 200-year history in the textile business. WestPoint Home
acquired its facilities in Bahrain in 2006 from their previous owner, Manama Textiles, which was
then one of WestPoint’s suppliers. Manama Textiles was a Pakistani-owned company established
in Bahrain in 1994. The facilities purchased by WestPoint Home include two spinning mills, a
weaving mill, a finishing plant (dyeing and printing mill), and a fabrication (sewing) plant. The
company produces sheets and semi-finished shells for pillows and comforters. The semi-finished
products are completed in the company’s factory in Chipley, Florida. WestPoint Home has 1,700
employees in Bahrain, of whom the majority are Pakistani. Bahraini nationals comprise 10% of
the workforce. Each month, WestPoint Home produced 2.7 million linear meters of home textiles
in Bahrain; some of this product is shipped directly from Bahrain to its U.S. clients, but most is
shipped to the company’s Florida facility for packing and/or further processing. A very small
percentage goes to clients in Europe.
23
WestPoint also has a facility in in the United States in Chipley, Florida that employs 250 people,
of whom one-third work in packing and distribution and two-thirds in manufacturing. The
manufacturing segment engages in the final stage of manufacturing comforters and decorative
bed pillows that require fiberfill/batting. The outer textile materials for these products are
imported from WestPoint’s facility in Bahrain, filled in Chipley, and then distributed from
Chipley to U.S. customers.
WestPoint's facility in Bahrain is currently capable of producing approximately 70% of the yarn
that its Bahraini operations require, and thanks to planned investments in Bahrain, it anticipates
that this percentage will reach 80% by the time the TPL is set to expire in 2016. The yarn that
WestPoint currently imports is fine, higher count yarn that it uses to manufacture higher-end
sheets, not the comforters and decorative bed pillows, which are shipped as semi-finished shells
to the Florida plant.
Given that WestPoint can produce the yarn used in the pillow and comforter shells filled in
Florida, the expiration of the TPL should have a minimal direct impact on the Chipley facility. If
WestPoint decided not to import third-party yarn following the expiration of the TPL, the main
product affected would be sheets. Some of the sheets manufactured in Bahrain are shipped to
WestPoint’s Chipley facility, where they are packed and sold to U.S. clients. Thus, a small
number of the Florida workers employed in distribution could be negatively affected. Moreover,
although the loss of TPLs would not directly impact the bulk of WestPoint Home Bahrain’s
production, which already qualifies for duty-free access under the U.S.-Bahrain FTA’s yarn-
forward rule of origin, the TPL expiration could cause the company to more fundamentally
reassess its overall production model and its Bahraini operations in particular.
Orta Anadolu: Orta is a 64-year old Turkish company that has been producing in Bahrain since
2010. Its main line of business is ring-spun denim, which it manufactures both in Bahrain and
Turkey. Rather than exporting directly to the U.S. market, however, Orta ships its denim to
apparel manufacturers that are producing for leading U.S. jeans brands, such as Levis and Gap.
Therefore, Orta exports to many countries from its Bahrain facilities, including Bangladesh,
Mexico, Colombia, and Jordan. Like WestPoint Home, Orta is a vertically-integrated producer
that imports cotton, spins the cotton into yarn, and then weaves the yarn into denim. In addition
to its own denim production, the company also does contract work for WestPoint Home.
Specifically, it weaves yarn provided by WestPoint Home into unfinished fabric (greige goods),
which WestPoint Home then finishes. Orta is producing 20 million linear meters of denim per
year in Bahrain, and 6 million linear meters of greige goods for WestPoint Home. It has 600
workers, of whom 20% (120) are Bahraini.
Table 10 summarizes the employment data of Bahrain’s four direct exporters, as well as Orta.
The percentage of Bahraini workers employed by these four companies has declined over time,
from just under 20% in 2008 to 12% for each of the last three years. In order to put these
employment figures in a broader context, economy-wide employment in Bahrain was 694,909
during the first quarter of 2015. Of this total, 156,429 workers were Bahraini and 538,480 were
migrant workers, meaning that Bahrainis accounted for 22.5% of the total workforce.
24
Table 10: Employment in Bahrain’s Textile and Apparel Factories, 2008-2015
Company Name
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2015
Change:
2008-14
Ambattur Clothing
1,176
1,270
1,254
1,368
1,427
1,450
22%
M.R.S. Fashions
969
1,281
1,375
1,410
1,616
2,294
123%
Noble Garment
756
555
612
719
827
800
9%
Apparel share of
employment
68%
67%
66%
66%
68%
66%
Orta Anadolu Textile
Bahrain
169
307
356
600
263%
WestPoint Home Bahrain
1,351
1,509
1,499
1,491
1,452
1,700
30%
Total
4,252
4,615
4,909
5,295
5,678
6,844
60%
Bahraini Employment
821
802
847
882
838
848
-1%
Bahraini Share of
Employment
19%
17%
17%
17%
15%
12%
Female Share of Total
Employment
45%
41%
39%
39%
37%
45%
Sources: LMRA (2008-2014), data represents December of given year; data for 2015 from company interviews.
Figure 7: Bahrain’s Footprint in the U.S.-Focused Textile and Apparel Value Chain
Figure 7 shows which segments of the apparel value chain are represented among the textile and
apparel companies exporting to the United States. It illustrates a key difference between the
textile and apparel firms. The operations of WestPoint Home Bahrain extend across three
segments of the chain: 1) yarn/thread; 2) fabric; and 3) home textiles. In other words, WestPoint
25
produces both components and final products (though some of those products undergo further
processing in the United States). In contrast, the three apparel companies occupy only one link in
the chainnamely, garment production. They import all of their inputs from abroad. Despite this
important distinction, each of the companies exporting from Bahrain imports inputsall fabric
in the case of the apparel manufacturers, and some yarn in the case of the textile firms.
Because the apparel companies are importing fabric from countries other than the United States,
the percentage of their final product entering the U.S. market under the TPL provision is 100%.
Each of the three companies manufacturing apparel in Bahrain imports fabric from Chinese
mills, though the percentage of their total fabric that comes from China (and other supplying
countries) varies:
Ambattur’s main fabric import is synthetic blends, most of which comes from Turkey.
Ambattur imports an additional 10% of fabric from China, and a smaller quantity from
Romania.
M.R.S. Fashions imports most of its fabric from its parent company’s textile operations in
China, though it supplements this with imports from Pakistan and South Korea.
Noble Garments imports most of its fabric from China (65%), but it also receives textiles
from Thailand, Taiwan, and India.
As noted earlier (see Figure 6), the three apparel manufacturers in Bahrain use a mix of cotton
and MMF fabric, though growth in the latter has been particularly strong since the
implementation of the FTA. Production of apparel from MMF fabrics is favored by the fact that
tariffs are higher on MMF apparel than on cotton garments. Consequently, the duty-free access
that Bahrain’s exports receive under the FTA, using TPLs, is particularly important for these
products.
Because these garments are made from inputs that do not qualify under the FTA rules of origin,
they would not get duty-free access to the U.S. market in the absence of the TPL provision.
Under such a scenario, importers would either have to pay the MFN tariff rate on these products,
or reengineer their supply chains to meet the rules of origin. The latter option means finding
textile suppliers whose products would qualify as yarn-forward under the FTA. Because such
suppliers do not currently exist in Bahrain, apparel manufacturers in Bahrain would have to
import yarn and/or fabric from the United States. Alternatively, instead of incurring the
additional expense and delay of having their Bahraini suppliers import fabric from U.S. textile
mills, the clients of Bahrain’s apparel firms could simply decide to shift their orders from
Bahrain to another apparel-exporting country.
Similarly, the three apparel manufacturers currently producing in Bahrain could opt to relocate
their production elsewhere. This possibility is increased by the fact that each has another option
in the region. Ambattur already has production in Jordan, and Noble Garments’ parent firm will
inaugurate production there in November 2015. Must Garments, the owner of M.R.S. Fashions,
is retaining possession of a shuttered plant in Egypt, which could be reopened to replace
production in Bahrain. Exports from Jordan and Egypt do not have to meet the yarn-forward rule
of origin to receive duty-free access to the U.S. market; as discussed in section 2 above, the U.S.-
Jordan FTA and the QIZ programs have more flexible rules based on a value-added threshold.
26
Reconfiguring Bahrain’s apparel supply chain to comply with the U.S. FTA yarn-forward rules
of origin would be difficult for two main reasons. First, the companies producing apparel in
Bahrain report relatively small production runs of many different styles. The average production
run for two of the three companies is 25,000 pieces; by way of contrast, the average size of a
production run in one of their Bangladesh factories is 800,000 pieces. The third company was
unable to estimate an average production run.
10
Manufacturers were skeptical that U.S. textile
mills would be willing or able to supply small volumes of the many different fabrics they
require.
More significantly, apparel manufacturers are often unable to make their own decisions about the
fabric used to fill the orders they receive from clients, since these decisions are typically made by
the brands and retailers placing orders. Increasingly, clients “nominate” or designate the mill or
mills from which the fabric for a specific order must be purchased by the clothing manufacturer.
Consequently, garment producers in the exporting country have limited ability to ensure
compliance with yarn-forward rules of origin, while brands and retailers in the importing country
can circumvent such rules by shifting their orders among a vast base of suppliers.
Unlike the apparel companies discussed above, WestPoint Home Bahrain is a vertically
integrated producer of home textiles. Much of its production contains yarn spun in Bahrain from
imported cotton, which qualifies under the FTA’s yarn-forward rule of origin. Therefore, it is far
less reliant than the clothing companies on TPLs. However, as noted above, WestPoint Home
currently imports a little more than a third of the yarn that it requires (35-37%) to make bedding,
specifically sheets; this yarn is imported primarily from India, with smaller quantities coming
from Pakistan and China. It is then provided to Orta, which weaves the yarn into greige fabric for
WestPoint Home.
Because the final products containing this yarn do not qualify as originating under the FTA, they
require TPLs when imported into the U.S. market. Although WestPoint Home is looking to
expand its spinning and weaving capacity in Bahrain, it does not plan to internalize the
production of all the yarn that it will require, given the changing nature of the market and
consumer preferences. Consequently, it too would need to reassess its current production model
in the absence of TPLs. However, given the sizable “bricks and mortar” investment that
WestPoint’s Bahraini facilities represent, the company is probably much less likely than the
apparel firms to shutter its operations or relocate production to another country upon expiration
of the U.S.-Bahrain FTA’s TPL provision.
4. Making the Connections: Linkages between Bahrain and the U.S. Textile Industry
To date, Bahrain’s apparel, and to a lesser extent textile, exports have relied on TPLs. After the
expiration of the TPL provision in 2016, and barring any extension of TPLs past this date, duty-
free access to the U.S. market will require a different strategy. One option is to increase imports
from U.S. manufacturers of yarn and/or fabric. A second is to seek permission to use non-
qualifying inputs on the basis of the “short supply” or commercial availability argument. Like
10
The size varies dramatically across orders, from as few as 500 pieces to as many as 100,000 units, so quoting an
average size could be highly misleading.
27
TPLs, short supply, is an exception to the rules of origin established in a FTA. However, unlike
TPLs, a short-supply designation is only made for a very specific type of input (a particular
fabric or yarn, based on its composition and characteristics), if it is determined that the input is
not available in “commercial quantities” from producers within the trade area.
11
The U.S.-Bahrain FTA has an unusually brief and vague article, called “consultation,”
addressing the issue of short supply. To date, only one short supply petition has been submitted
under the FTA. The Bahraini government submitted this petition in 2009, and, if approved, it
would have allowed products manufactured by WestPoint Bahrain in Bahrain that contain certain
compacted, single, ring spun cotton yarns from third-party countries to enter the U.S. market
duty-free. Shortly after this request was submitted, however, a similar petition that had been
submitted and approved under the CAFTA short supply provision became a matter of dispute on
the U.S. side, causing a delay in the consideration of Bahrain’s case. The petition was not
subsequently revisited and no determination was made.
One way to explore whether the short supply option might be viable for Bahraini producers is to
assess whether U.S. firms are currently exporting the main fabric that Bahrain imports. We first
examine this question before looking at other sources of textile production in the region
specifically, in those countries with which the U.S. has an FTA or other active trade preference
program.
Table 11 identifies the ten leading fabric imports (by HS code) into Bahrain in 2013 and 2014. It
also shows U.S. exports of those same products, and, for each year, the percentage of total U.S.
exports that Bahraini imports from other countries represent. The colored boxes in the third
column provide a rough assessment of commercial availability, based on the ratio of U.S. exports
to Bahraini imports of a particular fabric. The red boxes are cases where Bahraini imports exceed
the total value of U.S. exports to the world market. The fabric categories with red cells may be
strong candidates for short supply petitions.
12
11
In the case of the U.S.-Bahrain FTA, this would mean that the yarn or fabric in question is not currently available
from a U.S. or Bahraini textile producer.
12
However, more detailed, firm-level analyses are needed in order to assess the degree to which the FTA’s short
supply mechanism is an option for manufacturers in Bahrain. We found a number of discrepancies in HS codes at
the six-digit level when comparing the import and export data. Company-specific consultations with the firms
importing fabrics are the best way to assess whether true substitutes for the inputs currently imported from third-
party providers are available.
28
Table 11: Potential Capacity of U.S. to Meet Bahrain’s Fabric Needs
Type, Primary
Material, HS Code
U.S. Export
Value ($,
Billions)
Bahrain's Import
Value ($, Billions)
Share of
Bahrain's Fabric
Imports (%)
Bahrain's Demand Share
of Total U.S. Exports in
Top HS Codes
2013
2014
2013
2014
2013
2014
2013
2014
Fabric Total
7.0
6.8
0.1
0.1
Woven, Cotton, 520939
0.1
0.1
0.0
0.0
29
30
33%
44%
Woven, MMF, 551511
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
6
21
22%
114%
Woven, MMF, 551643
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
5
8
323%
943%
Woven, MMF, 540761
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
6
3
21%
18%
Woven, Cotton, 520921
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
12
3
3116%
2241%
Woven, MMF, 540752
0.1
0.0
0.0
0.0
3
3
4%
9%
Woven, MMF, 551512
0.1
0.0
0.0
0.0
2
2
3%
7%
Woven, Cotton, 520839
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0
2
3%
47%
Nonwoven, MMF,
560314
0.2
0.2
0.0
0.0
2
2
1%
1%
Woven, MMF, 551219
0.1
0.1
0.0
0.0
1
1
1%
2%
Top 10 (in 2014)
0.6
0.6
0.1
0.1
67
75
10%
17%
Source: UNComtrade (2015b)
While Table 11 suggests that U.S. manufacturers do currently have the capacity to meet
demand for at least seven of Bahrain’s top ten fabric imports, manufacturers in Bahrain may still
find it difficult to switch from a third party to U.S. suppliers after the TPL expiration. As noted
earlier, there are issues of both cost and lead time involved in importing inputs from the United
States, and these factors may make Bahraini manufacturer and/or their U.S. clients reluctant to
purchase U.S.-made textiles.
Another scenario to explore is cumulation, which essentially is an amendment to an agreement’s
rules of origin that permits inputs from particular third-country suppliers to count as qualifying
under the FTA’s rules. This is in contrast to TPL, which permits inputs from any third country
supplier, at least up to the specified annual limit. Although there is no cumulation provision in
the U.S.-Bahrain FTA, they have been included in other agreements, including the U.S. FTA
with Morocco, as well as the NAFTA and CAFTA.
In order for cumulation to be a viable option for Bahrain, there would need to be regional
suppliers of yarn and/or fabric in countries that have trade agreements with the United States
and/or Bahrain. Table 12 lists yarn and fabric exports from countries in the MENA region. The
top panel shows yarn exports for each year 2004 and 2014. There are three countries with yarn
exports that exceed $130 million in each of these ten years: Egypt (with $396 million in exports
in 2014); Israel (with exports of $182 million); and Singapore (with exports of $140 million in
2014).
Shifting from yarn to fabric, the bottom panel of Table 12 shows three countries that exported at
least $100 million in fabric in multiple years between 2004 and 2014. Among this set of
countries, Israel’s exports are both the largest in value and the most consistent over time, varying
from a low of $433 million in 2006 to a high of $556 million in 2008. Egypt’s export values have
fluctuated over the course of the past decade, but they have shown strong growth in recent years
with 2014 exports of $271 million. Singapore’s fabric exports are also uneven across years; after
29
peaking in 2012 at $241 million, they reached only $95 million in 2014. It is important to
emphasize that Table 11 reveals Bahrain to have modest exports of fabric, though the value of
these exports have declined steadily, from $70 million in 2004 to $35 million in 2014.
To be clear, the export data presented in Table 12 is for broad HS categories. Determining
whether this production could serve Bahrain’s textile and apparel manufacturers would require a
more thorough and fine-grained analysisone which disaggregates this data to look at the
specific types of yarn and fabric manufactured in the region, and examining the degree to which
it matches the specific input needs of the companies currently producing final goods in Bahrain.
Moreover, cumulation is not an alternative to TPL at this time, since the U.S.-Bahrain FTA lacks
a cumulation provision. Exploration of adding such a clause to the FTA’s rules of origin is one of
the recommendations we suggest in our concluding section.
Finally, it is important to underscore that fabric made in Bahrain may already meet the FTA’s
rules of origin if woven from yarn spun in Bahrain. This issue requires further exploration. It also
suggests the need to look at Bahrain’s current textile and apparel sector, and even more
importantly its future prospects, in a more holistic way, rather than assuming it is divided into
segments that reflect a particular product profile or market orientationfor example, U.S. versus
Middle East countries. Such a perspective is required to identify the possibilities of forging new
linkages between different segments of the value chain within Bahrain, and between Bahrain and
other producers in the region.
Table 12: Potential Capacity of Regional Yarn and Fabric Producers to Supply Bahrain
(a) Yarn and Thread Exports to the World (based on partner imports)
Country
Value ($, Millions)
World Share
2004
2007
2009
2011
2012
2013
2014
2014
World
47,601
55,423
45,484
71,462
63,604
67,744
60,452
Bahrain
23
2
0
0
1
7
2
0%
Egypt
170
205
234
490
387
456
396
1%
Israel
160
192
149
213
202
190
182
0%
Jordan
2
4
3
7
3
2
2
0%
Morocco
30
30
15
32
23
27
30
0%
Oman
2
5
7
10
9
8
10
0%
Singapore
166
143
106
152
143
140
140
0%
(b) Fabric Exports to the World (based on partner imports)
Country
Value ($, Millions)
World Share
2004
2007
2009
2011
2012
2013
2014
2014
World
97,769
115,253
93,184
129,988
118,963
123,544
103,702
Bahrain
70
55
34
47
30
39
35
0%
Egypt
75
117
88
140
172
254
271
0%
Israel
458
473
493
544
542
535
541
1%
Jordan
12
19
13
17
19
18
11
0%
Morocco
93
88
87
94
102
92
60
0%
Oman
1
1
0
1
0
1
0
0%
Singapore
155
126
97
150
241
111
95
0%
Source: UNComtrade (2015b)
30
5. Conclusions: Main Findings and Recommendations
In this final section, we review the main findings from our analysis of Bahrain’s textile and
apparel industry in the context of the global value chain. We then outline a set of
recommendations for strengthening the industry and increasing its potential to generate industrial
diversification, exports, and jobs in an expanding manufacturing sector. These recommendations
are divided into: 1) those directed at the TPL issue specifically; 2) those proposing alternative
workarounds to the yarn-forward rules of origin; and 3) those addressed to the broader goals of
value chain development.
5.1. Main Findings
Textile and apparel’s significance to Bahrain’s manufacturing sector is evident in its contribution
to the country’s positive trade balance with the United States, as well as the (admittedly, limited)
employment opportunities it creates for Bahrainis, especially Bahraini women. Moreover, the
industry is playing a key role in developing a nascent manufacturing sector, as the government
seeks to diversify the economy beyond its traditional niches in oil and aluminum production.
While both textile and apparel production make important contributions to the Bahraini economy
and are often treated as a singular industry, from a value chain perspective it is essential
distinguish between the apparel and textile segments of Bahrain’s textile and apparel sector.
Bahraini apparel manufacturers, like those in many other countries, were negatively affected by
the expiration of the MFA quota regime. In this context, since 2006 the U.S.-Bahrain FTA has
given Bahrain’s garment exporters an opportunity to maintain their U.S. import market share. To
the extent that Bahrain’s apparel exporters have been able to do so, they have relied heavily on
the TPLs provided in the FTA. The expiration of the TPLs at the end of July 2016 represents an
existential risk to the Bahraini operations of the three companies currently exporting apparel to
the United States, given that each relies on TPLs for 100% of its exports, and each already has
alternative production locations in the region.
Simply put, clothing manufacturers are in Bahrain for duty-free access to the U.S. market, and
this market access is premised on TPLs. The fact that the vast majority of garment workers in
Bahrain, as in several other countries in the Middle East, are migrant workers significantly
increases the “modular” nature of the industry. As one manager that we interviewed in Bahrain
put it, “we’ll pick everything up here [when the TPLs expire] and set it down somewhere else.”
However, this characterization does not apply to the textile segment of the industry. Bahrain
hosts two vertically integrated textile firms that export (directly or indirectly) to the United
States: WestPoint Home Bahrain produces yarn, fabric and home textile products, while Orta
produces yarn and denim fabric, as well as greige fabric for WestPoint Home. Although these
companies also currently benefit from the TPL provision of the FTA, they are far less dependent
on TPLs than the apparel manufacturers. Moreover, both WestPoint and Orta have made very
substantial investments in installed capacity that cannot be easily relocated. Our assessment is
that the expiration of the TPL provision does not directly threaten the continued viability of
WestPoint Home’s operations in Bahrain, since the majority of its Bahraini production does not
31
rely on TPLs. However, it may well result in a contraction of those operations if WestPoint
chooses to stop locally fabricating the products that are manufactured from imported yarn that
requires TPLs.
More generally, the vulnerability of the industry to the loss of TPLs underscores the urgent need
to identify new sources of supply for textile as well as apparel manufacturers. For the long-term
viability of the industry, it is necessary to think beyond TPLs. First, stakeholders need to
collaborate in order to explore how apparel manufacturers in Bahrain can organize value chains
that support FTA-qualifying final products for the U.S. market. Second, Bahrain should seek to
increase its impressive performance in export diversification. These are by no means
incompatible or orthogonal strategies; integrating the apparel value chain within the MENA
region, especially if combined with a cumulation strategy, can simultaneously expand trade with
neighboring economies while also supporting exports to the U.S. market. In what follows, we
outline the recommendations that proceed from our findings.
5.2. Recommendations for Maintaining TPLs
We see five specific approaches that Bahrain could pursue as it endeavors to secure some type of
extension of the TPLs provided under the U.S.-Bahrain FTA and which are set to expire on July
31, 2016. In addition, we offer other recommendations to strengthen the apparel value chain in
Bahrain that go beyond TPLs per se.
1. Straight TPL extension: From the vantage point of current producers, the most
desirable outcome is a straight extension of the provisionin other words,
another 65 million SMEs per annum for the next ten years. Not surprisingly, this
outcome is also the least likely, given the U.S. Trade Representative’s repeated
assertions that TPL is a temporary benefit that will not be renewed upon
expiration, and the strong opposition of U.S. textile producers, as represented by
the National Council of Textile Organizations.
The prospects for this scenario may be a bit brighter in light of the recent
conclusion of the negotiating phase of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). While
these negotiations were ongoing, the U.S. Trade Representative and the domestic
textile industry saw the issue of TPLs under existing FTAs as inherently linked to
Vietnam’s requests for TPLs in an eventual TPP.
13
On the face of it, this may be
surprising; After all, Bahraini exports are such a negligible percentage of U.S.
apparel imports that manufacturers in the United States cannot plausibly claim
that imports from Bahrain using TPLs are displacing domestic producers.
However, Vietnam’s anticipated share of the U.S. import market is far less
negligible, and the United States appeared unwilling to set a precedent for
Bahrain that could complicate negotiations with Vietnam in the context of the
TPP.
13
For example, the TPLs allotted to Nicaragua under the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade
Agreement (CAFTA) expired at the end of 2014. The Nicaraguan government and several U.S. apparel
manufacturers and buyers either producing in or sourcing from Nicaragua lobbied government officials to extend
these preferences, but their efforts were unsuccessful.
32
Now that the negotiations have concluded, this concern may have abated
somewhat, and U.S. officials may be more willing to countenance TPL extension,
particularly given Bahrain’s arguments regarding the sector’s importance for
generating economic opportunity and diversifying beyond oil. Additionally,
although arguments that the sector is an important source of employment are
complicated in light of Bahrain’s very high reliance on migrant workers, the three
companies that are most likely to close in the absence of an extension generate
66% of Bahrain’s jobs in textile and apparel manufacturing. However, it is worth
underscoring that the recently released draft text of the TPP does not include
TPLs for Vietnam. Their absence from the TPP may signal a general turn towards
stricter enforcement of rules of origin for trade in textile products, and thus may
not augur well for the Bahraini case for extension.
2. TPL extension with a reduced SME volume per annum: Our analysis of Bahrain’s
TPL utilization rate demonstrated that the quantity of TPLs granted under the
FTA substantially exceeds the needs of Bahraini manufacturers. A reduced TPL
allocation of 45 million SMEs per annum would meet current demand for
Bahraini manufacturers, while representing a 30% decline in TPL from the
original volume of 65 million SMEs per year.
3. Extend the timeframe for using the original TPL allocation: Although the TPLs
are set to expire in July 2016, Bahrain has not used the 65 million SMEs per year
provided in the original agreement. Essentially, this means that imports from
Bahrain of third-party fabric have been substantially lower than what the United
States was willing to accept over the course of the last decade. Accordingly, we
advise seeking a deal that would permit Bahrain to use the remainder of its unused
TPL allocation over the next five to ten years.
Importantly, this proposal may be more palatable than an extension because it
would simply imply a change in the timeframe for the TPL so that Bahrain could
use the remainder of the original allocation it already received under the FTA.
Specifically, the Bahraini government could propose carrying forward the unused
remainder of the TPL allocation from each of the past ten years forward into the
next ten years (i.e., through 2026).
4. Negotiate an Earned Import Allowance Program: The United States has been
willing to accept the use of third-party inputs when these are “earned” via the
purchase of U.S. inputs. Earned Import Allowance Programs currently exist with
the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and such a program was also negotiated
between the United States and Vietnam as a side agreement to the TPP (see
Appendix E: https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/TPP-Final-Text-US-Appendix-E-
Earned-Import-Allowance-Program.pdf). Under the proposed Earned Import
Allowance program for Vietnam, the United States shall issue one “matching
fabric credit for each SME of U.S.-made fabric, though the program is restricted
to bottom weight fabric (e.g., fabric used in jeans, khaki pants, shorts, and other
33
kinds of trousers). In this way, manufacturers in Vietnam can “earn” duty-free
access for their exports to the U.S. market by purchasing an equivalent amount of
fabric produced in the United States.
Earned Import Allowance Programs use a specific ratio of U.S. imports to
matching imports in granting credits, and these vary by country. For example, the
Earned Import Allowance Program with the Dominican Republic is based on a
two for one ratio (i.e., Dominican exporters receive a credit for one SME of third-
party fabric for every two SMEs of U.S.-made fabric they purchase), while the
proposed program with Vietnam is based on a one-to-one ratio. Given the cost
and time factors involved in importing from the United States, Bahrain would
likely require a ratio of less than one in order for an Earned Import Allowance
Program to provide importers an appreciable benefit over paying the MFN duty
on Bahrain’s non-qualifying exports. For example, Bahrain could request the
ability to use one SME of non-originating yarn or fabric for every .5 SME of
U.S.-made fabric.
Our analysis suggests that a straight phase-out of the TPL is not likely to increase
U.S. textile exports, particularly of fabric, to Bahrain; the more probable outcome
is that manufacturers will simply relocate to countries where market access is
regulated by more lenient rules of origin. Consequently, an Earned Import
Allowance Program is one of the few proposals that could plausibly be considered
a win-win scenario.
5. Seek to link the TPL issue to further discussion of U.S. concerns regarding
Bahrain’s compliance with the labor provisions of the FTA: In April 2011, the
United States’ main labor federation, the AFL-CIO, submitted a public report to
the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) claiming that Bahrain had violated its
commitments under the Labor Chapter of the FTA. A process of consultation
between the Bahraini and U.S. governments was initiated in relation to the
complaint, but it has not been formally resolved.
The substance of the complaint focused on allegations of discrimination and
retaliation against workers in relation to the spring 2011 demonstrations, and did
not address the labor situation in the textile and apparel industry per se.
Nonetheless, Bahrain’s willingness to engage with the United States over this
issue would signal its commitment to complying with its obligations under the
Labor Chapter. This is particularly salient given the heightened attention to labor
issues in the context of U.S. trade policy (for example, the United States’
withdrawal of GSP preferences for Bangladesh following repeated assertions of
labor violations in that country’s garment sector).
6. Recommendations for Work-Arounds to the Yarn-Forward Rule of Origin
Specify a concrete mechanism for short supply consultation: The U.S.-Bahrain
FTA has an underdeveloped consultation mechanism that, theoretically at least,
34
permits an investigation of an input’s commercial availability, and in the event it
is found to be in short supply, the use of a third-party product. However, the
vagueness of the current provision limits its use in a timely and effective manner.
We recommend seeking an agreement with the United States to consider short-
supply petitions on an expedited basis. This would involve creating a more
equitable distribution of the responsibility for adjudicating such a request, as the
current format is unduly onerous for the petitioner. Bahrain might propose a
concrete consultation mechanism whereby U.S. producers have a designated
window to respond to a short-supply petition with specific information about their
ability and willingness to supply a potential customer with the yarn or fabric in
question, and in the volume sought by the petitioner. Under such an approach, if
no response is received within the designated timeframe (for example, 30 to 60
days), the petition would be presumptively granted.
Seek a cumulation deal with other FTA partners. Given considerations of distance
and cost, the large-scale importation of inputs manufactured in the United States
is not a feasible option for Bahrain’s apparel manufacturers, especially given the
variety of fabrics they require and the time pressure they are under to deliver to
their clients. However, there is a sizable set of countries in the region that
manufacture yarn and/or fabric and that also have FTAs or other preferential trade
arrangements with the United States. These include Egypt, Israel, Jordan,
Morocco, and Singapore. Bahrain could seek U.S. approval for a cumulation
measure that would grant duty-free access to apparel and textile goods that
contain inputs from other countries with which the United States already extends
trade preferences.
As an example of how cumulation might work, consider the case of Orta textiles.
Orta produces denim in Bahrain and ships that denim to apparel manufacturers
that make jeans for U.S. clients, such as Gap. In principle, Orta might be able to
supply apparel companies making jeans or other denim apparel in Bahrain for
export to the United States. However, even though Orta is weaving denim from
yarn spun in Bahrain, garments containing this fabric would not qualify for duty-
free access to the U.S. market because Orta uses a small amount of elastomeric
yarn in its denim, and it imports this yarn from Singapore. Under the FTA’s
elastomeric yarn exception to the de minimis rule, this small amount of yarn from
Singapore would violate the yarn-forward rule of origin. However, a cumulation
deal with Singaporea country that has FTAs with both Bahrain and the United
Stateswould permit the use of elastomeric yarn imported from Singapore in
originating garments.
7. Other Recommendations to Strengthen the Apparel Value Chain in Bahrain
Encourage additional investment in yarn spinning and fabric weaving, and
explore the possibility of linkages between Bahrain’s existing denim mill (Orta)
and Bahrain’s apparel manufacturers: Bahrain has multiple advantage as a site
35
for textile production, including well-developed infrastructure, affordable
electricity and efficient customs. Moreover, the country’s relatively high labor
costs are not a prohibitive factor for textile production, since spinning yarn and
weaving and finishing fabric are relatively capital-intensive links in the apparel
value chain. A domestic supply of textiles would not only help Bahraini exporters
to meet the FTA’s rule of origin for some products, it would also deepen
Bahrain’s industrial base and create opportunities for further economic
diversification. We particularly encourage Bahrain to explore the possibility of
attracting foreign direct investment in MMF textiles, given the existence of a
petrochemical industry.
Encourage firms to export to other end markets, including those with which
Bahrain has FTAs: For example, WestPoint recently opened a sales office in
Dubai to coordinate sales for the institutional market. Bahrain and the UAE have
an FTA, so exports to this country would not require the use of U.S. or Bahraini
yarn. Moreover, if the trade talks between Bahrain and the European Union
resume at some point in the future , Bahrain could be positioned to expand
exports to Europea market that is already being served by at least one of the
apparel manufacturers currently in Bahrain, but from its Bangladeshi as opposed
to Bahraini facility.
36
References
Ahmad, M. (2007). Impact of Origin Rules for Textiles and Clothing on Developing Countries.
Geneva: International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD).
Appelbaum, Richard. (2004). Assessing the Impact of the Phasing-out of the Agreement on
Textiles and Clothing on Apparel Exports on the Least Developed and Developing
Countries. University of California, Santa Barbara.
Azmeh, S. (2015). "Transient global value chains and preferential trade agreements: rules of
origin in US trade agreements with Jordan and Egypt." Cambridge Journal of Regions,
Economies and Societies, 8(2): 1-16.
Bahrain textile and apparel companies. (2015). Interviews. In J. Bair (Ed.).
Bair, Jennifer and E. Dussel Peters. (2006). "Global Commodity Chains and Endogenous
Growth: Export Dynamism and Development in Mexico and Honduras." World
Development, 2: 203-221.
Benabderrazik, H. (2009). Moroccan textile and apparel exports: an evaluation. In G. C.
Hufbauer & C. Brunel (Eds.), Capitalizing on the Morocco-US Free Trade Agreement: A
Road Map for Success (pp. 79-88). Washington, DC: Peterson Institute for International
Economics.
Curran, Louise and Khalid Nadvi. (2015). "Shifting trade preferences and value chain impacts in
the Bangladesh textiles and garment industry." Cambridge Journal of Regions,
Economies and Societies, 8(3).
Diao, Xinshen and Agapi Somwaru. (2001). Impact of the MFA Phase-Out on the World
Economy: An Intertemporal Global General Equilibrium Analysis: Trade and
Macroeconomics Division, International Food Policy Research Institute.
Frederick, Stacey and Gary Gereffi. (2011). "Upgrading and Restructuring in the Global Apparel
Value Chain: Why China and Asia are Outperforming Mexico and Central America."
International Journal of Technological Learning, Innovation and Development, 4(1/2/3):
67 - 95.
Gereffi, Gary and Stacey Frederick. (2010). The Global Apparel Value Chain, Trade and the
Economic Crisis: Challenges and Opportunities for Developing Countries. Washington,
DC. http://elibrary.worldbank.org/doi/book/10.1596/1813-9450-5281.
Kardoosh, M. and R. Khouri. (2005). "Qualifying industrial zones and sustainable development
in Jordan". Paper presented at the Selected Papers from the Eleventh Annual Conference
Economic. Economic Research Forum (ERF). Cairo: Egypt.
LMRA. (2008-2014). Bahrain Factory-Level Employment. Bahrain.
OTEXA. (2005-2015). U.S. Imports of Textiles and Apparel under Free Trade Agreements.
Retrieved September 2015, from U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Textiles &
Apparel (OTEXA)from Sample: http://otexa.trade.gov/fta/catv0.htm (various by category
and year range).
---. (2015). Textile and Apparel Import Tariff Preference Levels (TPL). from Prepared by the
U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA), with data from
the U.S. Customs Servicefrom http://otexa.trade.gov/agoa-
cbtpa/98220511_2010_TPL.htm (various by year; additional years available here:
http://web.ita.doc.gov/tacgi/fta.nsf/6b2bbf77ad031a928525737d0053e0b1/a4d4fd5bbcb2
19588525737e006a887f?OpenDocument&country=Bahrain).
37
Someya, Masakazu, Hazem Shunnar and T.G. Srinivasan. (2002). Textile and Clothing Exports
in MENA: Past Performance, Prospects and Policy Issues in Post MFA Context: World
Bank.
UNComtrade. (2004-2014a). All Countries Imports from Bahrain (based on HS2002). Retrieved
August 20, 2015, from United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD)from
http://comtrade.un.org.
---. (2004-2014b). Bahrain's Exports (based on HS2002). Retrieved August 20, 2015, from
United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD)from http://comtrade.un.org.
---. (2004-2014c). Bahrain's Imports (based on HS2002). Retrieved September 26, 2015, from
United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD)from http://comtrade.un.org.
---. (2004-2014d). Bahrain's Re-Exports (based on HS2002) by Six-Digit HS Codes. Retrieved
October 28, 2015, from United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD)from
http://comtrade.un.org.
---. (2004-2014e). Bahrain's Re-Exports (based on HS2002) by Two-Digit HS Codes. Retrieved
August 24, 2015, from United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD)from
http://comtrade.un.org.
---. (2015a). Apparel Imports, HS61+62 (6-digits), HS2002. Retrieved August 22, 2015, from
United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD)from http://comtrade.un.org.
---. (2015b). Textile and Textile Product Imports, HS02 (6-digits). Retrieved August 21, 2015,
from United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD)from http://comtrade.un.org.
USITC. (2004). U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement: Potential Economywide and Selected
Sectoral Effects. Washington, DC: U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC).
http://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/pub3726.pdf.
USTR (2006). U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Chapter 3: Textiles and Apparel.
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), from https://ustr.gov/trade-
agreements/free-trade-agreements/bahrain-fta/final-text
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Impact of Origin Rules for Textiles and Clothing on Developing Countries. Geneva: International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD)
  • M Ahmad
Ahmad, M. (2007). Impact of Origin Rules for Textiles and Clothing on Developing Countries. Geneva: International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD).
Assessing the Impact of the Phasing-out of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing on Apparel Exports on the Least Developed and Developing Countries
  • Richard Appelbaum
Appelbaum, Richard. (2004). Assessing the Impact of the Phasing-out of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing on Apparel Exports on the Least Developed and Developing Countries. University of California, Santa Barbara.
Impact of the MFA Phase-Out on the World Economy: An Intertemporal Global General Equilibrium Analysis: Trade and Macroeconomics Division
  • Xinshen Diao
  • Agapi Somwaru
Diao, Xinshen and Agapi Somwaru. (2001). Impact of the MFA Phase-Out on the World Economy: An Intertemporal Global General Equilibrium Analysis: Trade and Macroeconomics Division, International Food Policy Research Institute.
Article
Full-text available
This article contributes to the debate on the key factors shaping global value chains in the garment sector by focusing on one aspect: namely trade regimes and their related ‘rules of origin’. We study Bangladesh, the leading least developed global garment manufacturer, to assess how changes in the European Union’s regime for preferential market access affect the trade profile, and upgrading prospects, of Bangladesh’s garment industry. We find that shifting trade preferences play a key role in determining structural transformations within the industry. This calls for more careful consideration of trade regimes within GVC analysis.
Article
Full-text available
This article uses the global value chain approach to analyse the upgrading trajectories of leading apparel exporters adapting to the end of textile and apparel quotas and the economic recession. These events have been coupled by the consolidation and reconfiguration of global supply chains. China has been the big winner while other Asian suppliers are expanding their roles, largely at the expense of regional suppliers. One key to Asia's competitive success vis-a-vis Mexico and Central America has been end market diversification. Regional trade agreements (NAFTA; DR-CAFTA) have provided the latter with preferential access to the US market and ties to brand manufacturers, but they also created a reliance on US exports and have hindered suppliers from developing regional linkages into textile production, apparel design and branding. Growing apparel demand in emerging Asian economies and a regionally integrated production network has allowed Chinese apparel suppliers to upgrade and expand global market share.
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines the impact of two crises on the global apparel value chain: the World Trade Organization phase-out of the quota system for textiles and apparel in 2005, which provided access for many poor and small export-oriented economies to the markets of industrialized countries, and the current economic recession that has lowered demand for apparel exports and led to massive unemployment across the industry’s supply chain. An overarching trend has been the process of global consolidation, whereby leading apparel suppliers (countries and firms alike) have strengthened their positions in the industry. On the country side, China has been the big winner, although Bangladesh, India, and Vietnam have also continued to expand their roles in the industry. On the firm side, the quota phase-out and economic recession have accelerated the ongoing shift to more streamlined global supply chains, in which lead firms desire to work with fewer, larger, and more capable suppliers that are strategically located around the world. The paper concludes with recommendations for how developing countries as well as textile and apparel suppliers can adjust to the crisis.
Article
Full-text available
The present paper develops a moral hazard model applied to a multinational firm (MNF)'s decision between foreign direct investment (FDI) and international subcontracting. We compare the results of the moral hazard model, characterized by the fact that the MNF is not able to control operations performed by the subcontractor firm, with the traditional model, which considers symmetric information. We conclude that the uncertainty associated with the subcontractor firm's behaviour, in spite of increasing the preference of the MNF to engage in FDI, does not change the optimal decision, which continues to be to subcontract. The exception occurs in the case that the subsidiary stands as more efficient than the subcontractor firm.
The impact of rules of origin (RoOs) in limiting the ability of developing countries to benefit from preferential trade agreements (PTAs) has been highlighted in the literature. One of the few US trade agreements that deviate permanently from the restrictive ‘yarn forward’ RoOs in textile and garments is the qualifying industrial zone (QIZ) agreement with Egypt and Jordan and the subsequent Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Jordan. The more flexible RoOs of these agreements have contributed to a dramatic increase in exports especially from Jordan. Examining this through the lenses of global value chains (GVCs), this paper argues that these RoOs facilitated the integration of the two locations, particularly Jordan, in the highly contingent transient GVCs of Asian producers raising questions about the developmental impacts of such integration.
Article
Hassan Benabderrazik has broad experience as a consultant on economic development issues in Moroc-co and the Maghreb. He founded and directed, from 1985 to 1998, the consulting group AgroConcept. For Morocco, the signing of a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States was a major event. It compelled the government, during the ne-gotiations, to develop new intellectual property policies, reform the agri-cultural sector, and open its fi nancial services market to competition. The government was also obliged to think strategically about adapting its tex-tile sector to the post–Multi-Fiber Arrangement (MFA) era. The FTA has profoundly altered the landscape for the Moroccan gov-ernment's approach to trade agreements. Despite Morocco's role in the successful conclusion of the Uruguay Round in Marrakesh in 1995, the country's previous experience with trade agreements was limited to its relationship with the European Union. The EU-Morocco relationship was very progressive in its design, relying on numerous rounds and interim agreements to prevent high adjustment costs for the "Northern" countries and to avoid the burden of sudden liberalization in Morocco. Of course there have been other agreements, notably in the context of the Arab League and the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), but they remain to be applied in practice. These and other regional agreements have given priority to political considerations, while ignoring the practical diffi cul-ties of opening markets and confronting competition. For example, the agreement with the Arab League called for a reduction in customs tariffs of 10 percent per annum over 10 years in order to achieve free trade status. But it did not address the problems of state monopolies, import licenses, competition laws, or agricultural and industrial subsidies. It is thus not surprising that the agreement was never put into practice.