Trade: Hanging by a Thread

Textile factories throughout Asia face extinction as a long-standing global trade pact is set to expire

Every morning 24-year-old Shahida Begum leaves her home in a Dhaka slum, wends her way through a posh diplomatic enclave and turns up for work at a garment factory overlooking the U.S. embassy. It's a commute she may not be making much longer. Like most of Bangladesh's 1.8 million textile workers, she has heard rumors that next year the American and European companies that buy clothes from her country will switch to Chinese manufacturers, leading to a shutdown of garment factories in Dhaka. The zero-sum math of globalization makes little sense to one of its potential victims. "How can the Chinese...

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