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The competitive position of Thailand's apparel industry: Challenges and opportunities for globalization

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Purpose ‐ Recent liberalization of the world's textile and apparel trade policies and the consequent changes in trade patterns posited threats to smaller textile- and apparel-exporting nations, including Thailand. Thus it is important to understand how the new trade environment affects the competitiveness of Thailand's apparel industry. This study seeks to provide insights into how Thailand's apparel industry has responded to increasingly fierce global competition by drawing on Porter's theory of The Competitive Advantage of Nations. Design/methodology/approach ‐ To assess the competitiveness of the Thai industry, the study triangulated data from various sources, including secondary statistics, media reports, and relevant industry publications. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were also conducted, and participants included key executives from Thailand's apparel industry, government officials, and academics. The interviews were conducted at various locations in three Thai provinces: Bangkok, Nonthaburi, and Samutsakorn, over a two-week period. Findings ‐ Findings revealed the existence of four determinants supporting the Thai apparel industry: basic v. specialized factors; sophisticated and demanding consumer market; the presence of interdependent economic agents; and strategies and structure of Thai companies and domestic rivals. These four determinants are identical to the "diamonds" outlined in Porter's theory of The Competitive Advantage of Nations and a new source of competitiveness. Furthermore, the Thai government was found to play an important role, by providing support to enhance the global competitiveness of Thai companies. Originality/value ‐ The study is among the first to attempt to provide insights into the competitive national advantage of the Thai apparel industry. Based on the findings, the outlook is positive for the continued success of Thailand's apparel industry in the global arena.

Keywords: Competitive advantage; Garment industry; Thailand

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-09-20

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