Deepening Intraregional Trade and Investment in South Asia – The Case of the Textiles and Clothing Industry

Meenu Tewari
JEL codes: 
Indian Council For Research On International Economic Relations Working Paper No. 213

This paper draws on recent field work within South Asia and an extensive review of secondary data to examine the dynamics of cross border trade and investment in South
Asia, exploring the potential for, and obstacles to, such trade through the lens of a sector that is salient throughout South Asia: Textiles and Clothing. Despite the growing competitiveness of this sector in the SAARC region, there is very little regional interlinkage within South Asias textile and clothing industry. Currently less than 4% of SAARCs global T&C exports are traded within the region. There is growing evidence of widespread substitution of South Asia by East Asia as the sourcing hub of fabric and accessories by the regions major clothing exporters. Over 80% of the fabric needs of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, for example, come from outside the region even though India and Pakistan are net exporters of textiles.