COVID-19 resurgence leaves textile-garment makers restless

Vietnam’s textile and garment exports grew 9% to over US$9.5 billion in the first four months of 2021, with shipments of cord fabric and fibre and yarn increasing 35.7% and 43.4%, respectively, year-on-year.

It was an especially encouraging performance given that the sector witnessed a 10.5% decline in generating US$35 billion from exports last year. The industry is aiming for up to US$39 billion in shipments this year.

However, exporters and producers can’t rest easily as the country’s fourth wave of COVID-19 is ravaging industrial parks in the north, where a large number of textile and apparel factories are located.

If a company is put under quarantine and must suspend production for 14 to 21 days, its plan for the year as a whole would be in tatters, according to Chairman of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) Vu Duc Giang. The consequences could be enormous, leaving firms on the brink of bankruptcy and workers without jobs, he added.

Textile and garments is a labour-intensive industry and the damage caused by the COVID-19 resurgence may be incalculable, he explained. Delays in delivery can lead to cancelled orders or delay penalties, resulting in losses in the billions of USD and reputational damage for the industry.

It is vital to protect workers’ health to maintain continuous production, Giang said.

To deal with the situation, VITAS has proposed the government and the Ministry of Health help producers buy and administer COVID-19 vaccines, with priority given to those in areas hit hardest by the pandemic.

The association has also suggested firms in the industry provide financial support for procuring vaccines, to speed up nationwide vaccination efforts.

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