Globalization and Trade: Discussion Questions from FASH455 Students (Spring 2016)

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The following discussion questions are proposed by students enrolled in FASH455 (Global Apparel & Textile Trade and Sourcing) Spring 2016 after learning the unit on textile and apparel as a global sector. Please feel free to leave your comment and engage in our online discussion.

Debate on globalization and trade

1. In the US and France, older people those ages 50 and above, are less enthusiastic about trade in general than younger people, those ages 18 to 29. Older people in the US and France are also more likely than younger people to say trade destroys jobs. Why does age affect how people view trade?

2. In 2002, 78% of Americans viewed foreign trade and business as a positive thing. Since then, it has dropped down to 68% of Americans. What has caused some Americans to view foreign trade and business as a negative thing? What can be done to prove to more Americans that foreign trade and business can actually be beneficial to America?

3. Is it worthwhile for countries to offer benefits or incentives to keep companies from moving factories abroad?

4. It is stated that “we wear more than four million American jobs”. With this being said, it is obvious that due to certain steps in globalization, American jobs are supported. Why do you think that only a little over half (54%) of the public believes that trade creates jobs? What are some reasons for the rest of the public’s opinions about trade not creating jobs?

5. The US and other nations with advanced economies are skeptical of the benefits of trade and foreign investments. Are these countries justified in their reasoning, especially with the knowledge that “imports actually create more value and jobs throughout the supply chain”? What are these justifications?

6. Globalization is a major driving force in an expanding marketplace and there are numerous benefits, such as an increase in resource. Do you think that there are important risks of globalization that some companies are not taking into consideration? Since globalization and outsourcing has such a good effect on the U.S. economy, why does it have such a negative reputation in America?

7. Why is it that so many nations are debating between whether or not trade is good or bad for their country? What are the possible differences between each nation that could develop these opposing positions?

8. How mercantilism is relevant in today’s society? How is it outdated? Is it safe to say that the assumption “exports are good and imports are bad” is wrong in today’s society?

Impact of globalization on the textile and apparel industry

9. Due to the low cost of employment, loosened restraints of employee treatment and ethics, and low prices of factories and goods abroad it has become an attractive way American businesses can grow at a more affordable price. If given the opportunity would you stand by these companies’ actions to seek the cheapest way of production or would you stand on the side of Mr. Miliken, opposed to trade with foreign companies? Explain either side.

10. It is clear that over time, Milliken & Co. has dropped their anti-trade stance and began to warm up to the idea of being global. With society constantly changing, do you think that the future will consist of all textile companies taking a global   stance on the industry? Why or why not?

11. Why is it that our soldiers’ uniforms are made in the U.S., but our Olympic athletes marched into the last summer games in London wearing uniforms containing tags saying “made in China”, does this show a weakness in the U.S?

12. Milliken & Co. has made the statement that “There is a new generation of CEOs… It’s part of their DNA that they operate in an international environment” This makes sense, however I wonder if companies would have gone global if labor costs the same everywhere? Would companies outsource jobs if the labor cost the same in every other country? With limited resources, they would still need to source the materials from other countries, but would they still manufacture them in the states or wherever they sourced them from?

 [Note: for the purpose of convenience, please mention the question # in your reply/comment].

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Author: Sheng Lu

Professor @ University of Delaware

14 thoughts on “Globalization and Trade: Discussion Questions from FASH455 Students (Spring 2016)”

  1. 1. I think that older people view trade in a more negative way than younger people because of the effect that trade has on jobs and their employment. Younger people are learning all about trade in school and know the importance that it plays in today’s economy. These younger people find jobs accordingly based on where trade has caused the job demands to shift to. However, older people may already be employed in areas that trade has negatively affected such as the clothing industry. Since clothing is being produced so much cheaper overseas, jobs in the textile and apparel area now severely lack at home, although it has not always been that way. Young people that are new to the work force are more understanding and adaptable to the economy and to a society that already has trade in place as a powerful force. On the other hand, older generations may feel the effects of trade stronger since they have worked in declining industries for much of their life and are only left to be pushed around by the effects of trade on the economy and job demand.

  2. #4. I think that people have a negative view because of media perception and also because of lack of education. In my experience, Media tends to play toward the “trade is taking jobs” instead of “this agreement creates jobs.” The general public use news and media sources as a way to understand things, so having them be bias can shift what people think. Also, there may be a lack of education on trade for the general public and people do not dig deeper in order to find out what they believe on trade.

    1. good point! On the other hand, it seems even policymakers only stress the benefits of export but not import. This leaves an impression that import is bad for the US economy.

  3. In response to question #9, there are definitely ways that both sides could be argued. For pro international trade, it is a good thing for the countries that we are buying from. US has an advanced economy and imports help to support those underdeveloped countries that desperately need the money and jobs. However, there are ethical issues with supporting countries that have unsafe working environments. Companies that continue to source from these countries are supporting negligent and dangerous working environments. We know that international trade is necessary in the world, however it is difficult to say whether trade is something that should still be done with countries that have those dangerous working conditions.

    1. Good thinking! May I ask a follow-up question: will the working conditions in those underdeveloped countries (such as Bangladesh) be better off without globalization? Put in other words: is globalization the major cause of the social responsibility problems in the underdeveloped countries?

      1. I think they would suffer without globalization, however, I do think that it is contributing to a lack of CSR in underdeveloped countries. It’s a tricky situation because I think that there is a fine line of when it becomes helpful to certain countries versus when it becomes detrimental to them.

  4. #12

    This is a good/humorous video that brushes on the topic of US trade with China that someone had shared on my facebook. At around 1:08, she discusses how major retailers and big companies have HUGE profits because manufacturing is so much cheaper abroad. In the New York Times article about the iPhone that we read for assignment 1, it also discusses how companies go overseas because it is cheaper. I think that if prices were globally the same, companies wouldn’t have to go overseas to produce goods. However, realistically I do not think that the US could have cheaper labor because there are so many labor laws in place, and many of the cheap manufacturing is unethical.

  5. #11. I believe that our Olympic uniforms containing tags saying “Made in China” does show weakness in the US. I agree that global trade and importing is good for America, and the world as a whole. However, I believe our Olympic uniforms should be made in America to show support for our country. Ralph Lauren is now making America’s Olympic uniforms and is ensuring that they are made in America.

  6. #2. I think the reason this trend occurred is because people in 2002 were not seeing as much trade and business go overseas as they are today. I think some Americans view foreign trade and business as a negative thing because they believe it takes away jobs from American workers and gives it to foreigners abroad. Additionally, I think people like to keep money domestic as opposed to spending our resources to help other economies. To prove to Americans that foreign trade is beneficial to America, we need to present them with hard facts and statistics that prove that Americans benefit from trade. Also, we need to inform Americans that there are certain countries that specialize in certain production of products (i.e. China and silk) that we cannot produce as well or as for cheap at home.

  7. #1. In the US and France, older people are less enthusiastic about trade because their generation was drastically affected by trade and the expansion of globalization. They received negative effects personally when they lost their jobs, even though trade is supposed to have a positive impact on the economy in the US and in France. For example, the US or France might have originally produced a product domestically, but now produces it in a foreign country, which left those domestic workers unemployed. Younger people are not exposed to that affect of losing a job due to trade because the transition occurred before their time. The younger generations see technology improving, resources expanding, and view the Textile and Apparel Industry from a global perspective rather than domestically. To the younger generations, they have only seen the positive outcome of trade, unlike the older generations who had to go through a rough transition overall.

  8. I think it’s interesting that the US soldier uniforms are made in the US however the US Olympic team’s uniforms were made in China. Maybe this is because the Olympic team uniforms were more of a one and done deal. Where as a soldiers uniform is more representative of America and holds a higher value. I do not think this makes the U.S. look weak in any way, however I think it would be nice if we could make our own uniforms for our Olympic athletes. It would definitely be a statement if we did.

  9. Question 1:
    It makes sense that older generations view trade as a more negative thing. I think when my grandparents were our age, they had to work for everything they wanted. They had a heavy emphasis on being American, and that we were the best country. With our generation, we just want everything quick and cheap no matter where it comes from. I feel like its also very hard for the older generations to have a change of heart about something that they have none for so long.

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