Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Burqa Business


PostGlobal has a nice short piece on how cheap, machine-made Chinese burqas are displacing the hand-made (and Afghan-made) sort in Kabul.

I've heard some talk lately about how widely disliked Chinese workers are in any area of Africa where there are a lot of them. This is a purely economic dislike, as one person hinted, because when a PRC business does a big infrastructure project in Africa they tend to bring in a lot of Chinese workers, rather than employing local Africans. (Come to think of it, when the PRC constructs a new embassy in Washington D.C., they bring in a lot of Chinese workers too, but that's a different matter.)

However, when it's just inexpensive, well-made and even stylish goods that turn up in a foreign market, rather than Chinese workers visibly displacing locals, PRC businesses gain market share.

At least Afghans still have a choice about who they buy their burqas from. In contrast, the U.S. has completely lost the ability to clothe itself, a fact that must be widely known and operate to the detriment of America's usually can-do reputation.

The fact is that in 2005, 89.3 percent of apparel sold in the U.S. was manufactured abroad, and 98.5 percent of footwear, according to the American Apparel & Footwear Association's figures for that year. Insert your emperor-has-no-clothes gag here.

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