As Phil Knight asserted, the ‘needle industries’ represent a crucial first rung on the ladder of Economic Development. Providing employment and training for a relatively unskilled workforce. After his pioneering efforts to import athletic shoes from Japan, Taiwan and Korea in the 1960s and sell them out of a backpack at California track meets. The world has witnessed Nike develop into a multi billion dollar corporation and Japan, Taiwan and Korea develop their economies to become arguably the most profitable countries in the 1990s. As Phil Knight so clearly declared, trade is the most important factor for the development of economies. The needle industry, as the first stage to industrialization, is labor intensive and apparently, can only be competitive in an economy as long as the labor costs are at rock bottom, i.e. until the average wage reaches approximately $10,000 per year (in 1998 parities). The end to the road of relocating on a lowest cost basis is not in sight in the near future.


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