Apparel industry in East Asian newly industrialized countries: Competitive advantage, challenge and implications
The East Asian newly industrialized countries (from now on, Asian NIC) of Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan have experienced decreasing export competitiveness due to rise of labor costs. While cheap labor has been the main source of competitiveness of Asian NIC, it cannot be a viable factor for Asian NIC any more. As the industry sector develops, its competitive advantage factors should be changed accordingly. This study is a preliminary attempt to illustrate how apparel industries in Asian NIC can obtain competitive advantage in the global economy and to suggest their future direction and challenges. By synthesizing industry-specific and Asian NIC-specific advantages, this study presents three critical factors for Asian NIC: global brand, global sourcing, and agility. Future directions and challenges for the industries are suggested.