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This paper analyses the development of a garment cluster in La Laguna, North Mexico, since the coming into effect of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Employment in the local garment industry increased rapidly and working conditions improved, due to increasingly stringent buyer standards. However, both buyer-supplier and employee-worker relations became strained, causing some entrepreneurs to relocate operations to cheaper sites and others to adopt a modular production strategy to save on labour costs – and shift co-ordination and management risk onto workers. La Laguna's specialisation of jeans production for export is a form of hyper specialisation that may well be required in global markets, for the sake of cost efficiency, but it also enhances the vulnerability of a cluster in the face of fluctuating world demand and changing international trade policies. As the cluster is an important part of the regional economy, the problems of the cluster have a great impact on the region.

Keywords: La Laguna; NAFTA; cluster; globalisation; labour relations; value chain

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Ministry of Economic Affairs, Bezuidenhoutseweg 153, 2500 EC Den Haag, the Netherlands., Email:

Publication date: December 1, 2006

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