The article discusses the opportunities and risks that are facing the textile/garment manufacturing productive chain (TGC), bearing in mind the prospects of creating free trade areas in the Americas (Alca) and with the European Union (EU). The article looks at both the external trends and the internal prospects for Brazil. As for the former, the article shows that inequalities in the international trade of the TGC are manifold and have been prejudicial to the country. The article also shows that the Brazilian TGC is very competitive when it comes to cotton cultivation, and cotton spinning and weaving. In the two latter sectors, the leadership of the chain is in the hands of a small group of large, internationally competitive companies. In the TGC, however, there are two serious problems: a large number of inefficient companies and a less competitive sub-chain, that of synthetic and artificial fiber-based products. There is, therefore, an economic policy dilemma. The exporting companies need Alca and the EU accord to remain competitive. But these agreements may prove detrimental to a significant part of the TGC, which is less competitive.