This news made the front of The New York Times’ Business Section today:
“Although world trade declined this year because of the recession, consumers are demanding lower-priced goods and Beijing, determined to keep its export machine humming, is finding a way to deliver.”
David Barboza reported that American imports of Chinese knitwear (think tee shirts, sweatpants, sweaters)jumped 10% in July while imports from other developing countries plunged.
“One reason,” he wrote, “is the ability of Chinese manufacturers to quickly slash prices by reducing wages and other costs in production zones that often rely on migrant workers. Factory managers here say American buyers are demanding they do just that.”
It’s worth reading the whole article, to learn about what some of those “other costs” are. What are trade-offs are we demanding when we insist on cheaper Chinese imports?
One economist suggests the Obama administration can’t afford to speak up about China’s weak currency or trade imbalances while Beijing foots our bill by buying up U.S. debt.
The administration might be in a tough spot, but what about American consumers? Do stories like effect our choices? Do you care where your tee shirt was made?
For my part, I’m realizing the tank top I’m wearing as I write this has no tag in it. I bought it at a street booth in Rio de Janeiro, and it’s knit cotton. There’s a good chance it was made in China though I can’t be sure. (The ladies there customized it for me on the spot with that iron-on.)
Please, leave a comment–because unfortunately it seems The New York Times didn’t offer the opportunity at the end of this particular story. I would love to know your thoughts…and where your tee shirt was made.
Two related recent stories, in case you might have missed them:
- The effects of the global crash on Vietnamese craftspeople.
- American Apparel fires 1,800 illegal immigrant workers in Los Angeles.
There’s definitely more to discuss here. My hope is that we’re just getting started.