Apparent Comparative Advantage and Development Space in Women’s Apparel Trade

Xin Zhao


This study investigates the apparent comparative advantage of the world’s top five women’s apparel exporters in order to anticipate the development of future international women’s apparel markets using Vollrath’s Relative Trade Advantage (RTA) Index and market share analysis for both aggregate and disaggregate trade data from the UN Statistics Database for the years 1993-2007. Findings show the complexity of the comparative advantage concept and indicate that appearances can be deceiving. Outstanding performance for exporters based on RTA values at the aggregate level does not necessarily mean outstanding performance at the subcategory level. Furthermore, market share analysis shows that new players are making a strong showing in the women’s apparel trade. Niche opportunities are revealed for the current export leaders, as well as up-and-coming apparel exporters. The results suggest that Vollrath’s RTA Index, heretofore little used in the apparel trade area, offers a useful additional perspective on comparative advantage and should be considered for use in future apparel trade studies.

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Business and Economic Research  ISSN 2162-4860

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