Pietra Rivoli who is an associate professor in the Georgetown University, specializes in finance and social issues, and is the author of the book, ‘The Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy’. The main reason which instigated Rivoli to write this book, was a speech a student had given at the Georgetown University, the student was severely criticizing globalization, and asking about who made the T-shirts they were wearing. She told some facts about child labor in India and Vietnam, which made everybody, sit up and think, including Rivoli. Rivoli then starts on a journey to find out some interesting facts about the origin of the T-shirt. Her case study starts in Texas at the home of Nelson Reinch, who produces enough cotton for more than 1.3 million T-shirts.
Reinch and his colleagues control the whole world market of cotton, through hard work, determination, modern technology and much needed discounts from the government. Reinch was no where in comparison to the poor farmers in India and Africa, who did not have proper funds or government support in marketing their goods. Rivoli’s next stop was China, were she met a young woman Yuang Zhi, who spun the yarn for the fabric and sewed the shirt. This young lady worked for 50 hours a week, and earned nearly $150 per month.
This woman’s working conditions were far better than the conditions in which women had to work previously in Manchester and England. This was probably the woman’s first encounter with independence and identity, which came in the form a paycheck, even though it was a small amount. The most important point which was very surprising was that, throughout the world there must be millions of people who manufacture cotton, but the manufacturers from Texas were totally dominating the cotton industry, because of their shrewd manner by which they manage to avoid competition.
These manufacturers manage to control the market by avoiding the labor market, which make the other manufacturers unable to compete with them due to no government and political assistance, lack of proper education and money. People who support globalization vow by the free trade of clothes, as it can be used to the advantage of the poorer countries. Rivoli was surprised to find that how recycled clothes from the USA were a rage in Tanzania. Used clothes from America get imported in huge quantities to Tanzania. Tanzania is a small country which was slowly proceeding towards a more liberal capitalist system from the socialist model.
People are able to freely take part in the daily auctions of the clothes at the market place, and merchants are also making a mark for themselves in the cutthroat markets as consumers or retailers. Rivoli feels that free trade should be encouraged without any government or political interference in the markets. According to the author, United States is on the top of the market whereas Africa is at the bottom; she feels that USA will have a better chance to make progress economically if they give a reasonable chance of competition to other poorer countries. Tanzania is a proper example of how a free market should work, and these markets are extremely professional, but do not get acknowledged, because of the low capital raised through such markets, which is not significant.
Two of the most important principles which need to be followed are that, government and political interference should not be there in any market. Another point is that the subsidy which US government gives the cotton manufacturers is indirectly harming other poorer countries. Rich people are becoming wealthier and the poor are becoming poorer. If the subsidies are reduced, the price of cotton can be increased, which would be beneficial to other poorer markets. Another important point which is a shock is that the clothes that people donate, are not given away freely to poor people, but are sold to middlemen for huge profits, which later land in the streets of the Tanzania marketplace.
Some of the most important principles which can be followed by other industries also are that free market in any trade should be encouraged, and people should have the power to voice their demands, meaning a free democracy should be prevalent to achieve a fruitful society. Government should support free trade in any industry, and should provide the necessary platform in the form of proper education and capital to help the markets grow. Some of the other reasons for the trouble that African industries are facing are the lack of proper authority, which is due to no proper education, corruption and insecurity. The author Rivoli made a very good job of the book, she was successful in exposing the secrets and complications of the cotton trade globally.
Her views on free trade and liberal democracy are very interesting, and should be followed by the authorities of the poorer countries for a better society. On the whole she succeeded in voicing her thoughts and opinions on the recycle market in Tanzania, and hopefully, their government will provide a strong platform for such global trades. References f29a46475f850792f7bc0fa9&did=819871301&FMT=FT&FMTS=FT&date=&author=&pu b=&printformat=1&desc=What+a+T-shirt+teaches+Series%3A+BOOKS>.
Lauren Dorsey, Lauren Barbieri, Zack Thomas, ‘The Travelers of any T-Shirt inside the Global Economy, by Pietra Rivoli’, some October 2007