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Institutions and Economies


This paper examines the development of textile and garment manufacturing in the context of the prevailing arguments on pursuing market- oriented liberalisation and state directed domestic linkages, and the impacts of these developments on unions and workers in Vietnam. Despite rapid growth in exports and employment, the empirical evidence shows that market-oriented integration in the global economy has limited firms’ operations to low value- added activities and workers to toil for non-livable wages. The global supply chain has also exposed firms and consigned workers to the vicissitudes of volatile fluctuations in demand causing retrenchments, substandard working conditions and a vicious circle of underdevelopment and poverty. Albeit limited the state-controlled Vinatex has managed to promote domestic linkages in Vietnam, suggesting that the industry can actually be restructured to absorb higher value-added activities. A shift to upgrading activities, including learning and skills training, is essential to support improvements in wages and working conditions.


Postprint version. Published in Institutions and Economies, Volume 4, Number 3, October 2012, pp. 123-150.

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