Textile trade policy

Sweden used to protect importation with tariff barriers since long time ago. Linen and silk fabric was even banned from importation as recent as 1700. During the early part of 1900 there was limitations and quotas for certain types of textile products. Not until 1968 the Swedish Government lifted any textile importation restrictions as the first country in the western world. The reason was to be able to offer less expensive clothing to all its population.
The result for the Swedish textile industry was disastrous. Most of the industry disappeared and about 100,000 workers lost their jobs. Of the then 115,000 textile workers, today about 10,000 remain in the industry. The textile companies who survived worked to find a niche where the products they made would find buyers willing to pay for their products.
Most other European countries have maintained quotas until just a few years ago when the European Union abolished the quotas totally. The result is closures and unemployment, especially in southern Europe, where a large textile industry still remains.

International Outlook

The major exporting textile producers are currently located in Asia, primarily in India and Pakistan. There is plenty of capital for investment in the latest technology in those countries. Extremely cheap labor further provides cheap goods for consumers worldwide.
The garment industry historically has moved to countries with the cheapest labor force. This move continues as costs change. Companies who started in Finland and Portugal are now in Bangladesh, China and Vietnam. These countries will be abandoned as soon as the costs become too high.