|Boy scouts relaxing in sombrero vueltiao hats today in La Candelaria.|
The news that one of Colombia's national symbols, the sombrero vueltiao, is being imported from China, should make Colombian officials reflect on the consequences of its rush to open itself to free trade.
That Chinese factories can make sombreros vueltiao faster and cheaper than traditional weavers is no surprise. And Colombia's proposed government measures, such as labeling hats' countries of origin, aren't likely to make much difference. Colombia's only real option for keeping the hat industry at home is to set up its own factories - altho that would put even more pressure on the traditional hatmakers. Even then, we can only hope that Colombian industry can outcompete the Chinese, even with the Chinese' extra costs of shipping their products halfway around the globe.
|Sombrero vueltiao hats for sale near El Museo de Oro. I couldn't find a label saying where they'd been made.|
|A traditional weaver at work.|
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours