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WELCOME TO THE ARCHIVE (1994-2014) OF THE MAQUILA SOLIDARITY NETWORK. For current information on our ongoing work on the living wage, women's labour rights, freedom of association, corporate accountability and Bangladesh fire and safety, please visit our new website, launched in October, 2015:

Phase out of the Multi-Fibre Agreement (MFA)

Between 2003 and 2008, MSN put a great deal of attention to analyzing and mapping the potential and actual impacts of the 2005 end of the global import quota system under the Multi-Fibre Arrangement (MFA).

The MFA was established in 1974 to regulate global trade in textile and apparel products. Under the MFA, Canada, the US, and the European Union (EU) could set limits, called quotas, on the amount of foreign-made apparel and textiles they would allow into their countries from any specific producing country. In 1995, the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC) came into effect, under which quotas were phased out in four stages over a ten-year period and eliminated on January 1, 2005.

During and after the quota phase-out, MSN promoted the development of new strategies and alliances to deal with the negative fall-out and to put labour standards on the agenda in this highly competitive, post-quota environment. To help strengthen the capacity of local groups to build national alliances and put forward their own demands, MSN produced educational resource materials, provided resource people for workshops in garment-producing countries, and helped to organize public forums in Central America, Thailand, Mexico and Canada.

MSN also published a number of studies on the impact of the quota phase out on garment workers, and sponsored South-South exchanges in which women’s and labour rights organizations came together to map the impacts of the end of quotas on garment workers and discussed possible strategies to improve respect for garment workers’ rights in the post-quota era.

In early 2004, MSN helped to found the MFA Forum, a multi-stakeholder learning forum to identify and promote collaborative strategies to support vulnerable national garment industries and greater respect for workers' rights in the post-quota period. The MFA Forum brought together international apparel companies, national and multi-lateral public institutions, and trade union and non-governmental organizations to seek solutions to problems caused by the end of quotas, including factory closures.

In June 2005, the Forum published its Collaborative Framework which identified the responsibilities of garment companies, governments, unions and NGOs to mitigate the negative impacts of the MFA phase-out on national garment industries and garment workers. In 2008, the MFA Forum adopted a set of Guidelines for Managing Responsible Transitions, outlining the steps apparel brands and manufacturers should take in the post-quota transition period when there is a danger of or an actual factory closure and before shifting production or orders out of a country or into a new country.

Much of the Forum’s work focused on promoting collaborative action in garment-producing countries, such as Bangladesh, Lesotho, Morocco and Mexico, where it was assumed the quota phase-out would have a negative impact.

Although the MFA Forum was disbanded in 2010, two of its initiatives, the Americas Group and the Americas Group’s Mexico Committee, continued their work after that year, and MSN continued to play a leading role in both. 


September 15, 2009

MFA Forum Mexico Committee meeting, August 2009

On August 26th, 2009, the Mexico Committee of the MFA Forum hosted a multi-stakeholder forum to present to representatives of government, the private sector and civil society a new initiative the Forum is launching at the international level to respond to the impact of the current economic crisis on the industry and to promote a more sustainable future for both the apparel and footwear industries.

February 3, 2009

MFA+3: Labour Rights in a Changing Garment Industry

On September 30 – October 2, 2008, MSN and the Honduran Independent Monitoring Team (EMIH) co-sponsored a regional seminar entitled "MFA+3: Labour Rights in a Changing Garment Industry."  The seminar brought together approximately 60 representatives of labour and women's rights organizations from Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Argentina.

October 3, 2007

Responding to factory closures

With the demise of the import quota system at the beginning of 2005, companies began restructuring global supply chains with little regard for the workers, communities and countries that are affected. When the economic crisis hit in the latter half of 2008, the industry began a whole new wave of downsizing and restructuring.

December 15, 2006

The fall-out from the phase-out

What Lies Ahead for the Garment Industry and Garment Workers?

On March 17, 2005 the Ethical Trading Action Group (ETAG) sponsored a public forum in Toronto on the impacts of the garment and textile import quota phase-out, which was followed by a civil society strategy meeting and a No Sweat campaign consultation on March 18th. Some of the presentations made at the Forum are available in PDF format below.

October 31, 2005

Asia-Latina Women’s Exchange

Coming ten months after the demise of the Multi-Fibre Arrangement (MFA), the exchange was designed to give participants an opportunity to share what the end of the import quota system has meant for workers and communities in Thailand, China/Hong Kong, Cambodia, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and the Dominican Republic and to discuss strategies for better defending workers' rights in a post-quota industry.

August 18, 2005

What lies ahead for Mexico’s garment industry?

On August 18, 2005, MSN and the Mexican women's organization MUTUAC co-sponsored a one-day conference entitled "What lies ahead for the Mexican garment and textile industry? The impact of end of the MFA on the industry and labour rights" featuring presentations by representatives of Mexican garment manufacturing firms, the Mexican government, national and international labour organizations, leading international brands, and Mexican labour rights organizations. Read about it here.

April 14, 2005

Other useful links on MFA 2003-2008

Other useful links related to MFA

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