What was the Multi-Fibre Agreement? China and the Multi-Fibre Agreement.

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Exports of textiles and clothing from developing countries have long faced restrictive blocks to their exports called quotas. Brought in force as a temporary relief measure in favor of the domestic textile manufacturers in the developed countries, it has been in force for 40 years now.


In 1962, a Long Term Agreement (LTA) regarding international trade in cotton textiles was signed. It replaced the one-year Short Term Agreement that existed at the time. LTA underwent several renewals and was subsequently replaced by the Multi-Fibre Agreement (MFA) in 1974, which was expanded to cover exports of synthetic fibres and woolen products, besides cotton.

MFA came into force to allocate export quotas to the low cost developing countries, limiting the amount of imports to countries whose domestic industries were facing serious challenge from rapidly increasing imports. It sought to expand trade, reduce barriers to trade and progressively liberalise world trade.

The MFA regime existed for 25 years, until 1994 when the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations resulted in the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC). The ATC sought to phase out all quota restrictions in four phases spread over a period of 10 years. The first three partial phase-outs were in January 1995, January 1998 and January 2002. The final one is due on January 01, 2005.

This came into force along with the WTO framework for multilateral trade in 1995: stipulated that the quota system for textile exports and imports under the Multi-Fibres Agreement (MFA) was finally phased out on January 1, 2005. ...
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