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The Ripple Effects of US Trade Policy Shifts on Global Textile Suppliers


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As the economic landscape evolves and a new wave of globalization sweeps across nations, the textile industry has consistently stood as a key pillar supporting national economies. This industry serves as a crucial barometer, accurately reflecting the fluctuations and dynamics of global trade. The impact of global trade policies on this industry is profound, especially in countries like Bangladesh, where the very identity of the nation and its economic prosperity are interwoven with the fabric of textiles. The United States, being one of the largest export markets for textiles and garments, plays a significant role in shaping these policies. The ripple effects of any changes in US trade policy are keenly felt by suppliers in Bangladesh and other textile-exporting nations. This comprehensive article delves into the intricate details of these policies over the last decade, exploring the strategies Bangladesh has employed to navigate these turbulent waters, and the potential future prospects in light of these policy shifts.

US’s Departure from the TPP: A Major Policy Shift

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) stood as a landmark trade agreement, designed to deepen economic ties among its member countries scattered around the Pacific Rim, such as Japan, Australia, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Notably, China was excluded from this partnership. The United States, under the Obama administration, was a key proponent of the TPP, viewing it as a strategic tool to counterbalance China’s rising economic influence in the region.

However, the Trump administration’s decision in 2017 to withdraw from the TPP marked a significant shift in U.S. trade policy. The focus moved from multilateral agreements to bilateral trade deals. This withdrawal has had several implications for global textile suppliers, including Bangladesh:

  • Reduced Competitive Pressure: The TPP included stringent labor, environmental, and intellectual property standards. Countries like Vietnam, a TPP member and direct competitor to Bangladesh in textiles, would have gained duty-free access to the U.S. market. This would have put pressure on Bangladesh to enhance its competitiveness. The U.S. withdrawal eased this immediate competitive pressure but also signaled a shift towards more protectionist trade policies globally.
PeriodExports to US from BangladeshTotal Imports by US
20225 bn$49.5 bn$
20233.8 bn$38 bn$
Decline %24%23%

However, despite of a lesser competition from the closest counterparts like Vietnam, exports to US from Bangladesh didn’t improve, rather declined by 24% from 2023 to 2024. This decline can be relevant as the total imports of apparel by US has also declined by 23% in this period. 

  • Increased Emphasis on Bilateral Agreements: With the U.S. exit from the TPP, there was an increased emphasis on bilateral trade agreements. For Bangladesh, this meant exploring opportunities for a potential trade agreement with the U.S. Although such a process would be complex and time-consuming, it could offer the possibility of securing more favorable terms of trade. However, it would also require Bangladesh to navigate the U.S.’s expectations around issues such as labor rights and intellectual property protection.

Renegotiation of NAFTA into USMCA: A New Trade Landscape

The renegotiation of NAFTA into the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) brought significant changes to trade relations among North America’s largest economies. The USMCA aimed to support mutually beneficial trade leading to freer markets, fairer trade, and robust economic growth in the region. For textile suppliers in countries like Bangladesh, the impacts include:

  • Strengthened North American Supply Chains: The USMCA includes provisions that incentivize the use of North American-made fibers, yarns, and fabrics by increasing the rules of origin requirements. This could potentially reduce the demand for imported textiles from countries like Bangladesh as USMCA members benefit from duty-free access within the region.
  • Opportunities in Compliance and Sustainability: The USMCA’s emphasis on labor rights and environmental standards presents an opportunity for suppliers in countries like Bangladesh to align with these values. By investing in sustainable and ethical production practices, Bangladeshi suppliers can position themselves as attractive partners to North American brands and retailers looking to meet these standards across their supply chains.

Strategic Implications for Bangladesh: Navigating the Waves of Change

For Bangladesh, navigating the implications of these U.S. trade policy shifts requires a strategic approach. The country can leverage its strengths—such as cost competitiveness and a large, skilled labor force—while also addressing areas of concern, including labor rights and environmental sustainability. Strengthening bilateral trade relations with the U.S., exploring new markets, and enhancing product quality and diversity can mitigate some of the negative impacts of these shifts. Furthermore, investing in technology and innovation will be key to maintaining Bangladesh’s competitive edge in the global textile market.


The changes in U.S. trade policy, notably its withdrawal from the TPP and the renegotiation of NAFTA into the USMCA, have created a new trade landscape with both challenges and opportunities for global textile suppliers like Bangladesh. By understanding these shifts and strategically adapting to them, Bangladesh can continue to thrive in the global textile industry. This will involve leveraging its strengths while also embracing the need for innovation and sustainability, thus ensuring its place in the future of global textiles.


  • Data from websites: BGMEA, WTO, USFIA, Fibre2Fashion,
  • Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes” by Dana Thomas
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