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July 16, 2010 Bangladesh, With Low Pay, Moves In on China By VIKAS BAJAJ GAZIPUR, Bangladesh — The eight-lane highway leading from the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, narrows  repeatedly as it approaches this town about 30 miles north, eventually depositing cars onto a muddy,  potholed lane bordered by mangroves and small shops.  But this is no mere rural backwater. It is the sort of place to which foreign manufacturers may increasingly  turn, if the rising wage demands of factory workers in  China  prompt companies to seek new pools of cheap  labor elsewhere.  Already, in factories behind steel gates and tall concrete walls, tens of thousands of workers, most of them  women, spend their days stitching T-shirts, pants and sweaters for  Wal-Mart retailers and brands.  One of the Bangladeshi companies here, the DBL Group, employs 9,000 people making T-shirts and other  knitwear. Business has been so good that the company is finishing a new 10-story building with open floors  the size of soccer fields, planted with row after row of sewing machines.  “Our family needed the money, so we came here,” said Maasuda Akthar, a 21-year-old sewing machine  operator for DBL.  As costs have risen in China, long the world’s shop floor, it is slowly losing work to countries like  Bangladesh Vietnam and Cambodia — at least for cheaper, labor-intensive goods like casual clothes, toys and simple  electronics that do not necessarily require literate workers and can tolerate unreliable transportation systems  and electrical grids.  Li & Fung, a Hong Kong company that handles sourcing and apparel manufacturing for companies like Wal- Mart and  Liz Claiborne , reported that its production in Bangladesh jumped 20 percent last year, while China,  its biggest supplier, slid 5 percent.  March.  The flow of jobs to poorer countries like Bangladesh started even before recent labor unrest in China led to 
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This note was uploaded on 05/04/2011 for the course PUBLIC POL 103 taught by Professor Reich during the Spring '11 term at Berkeley.

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