Coronavirus: $1.4b apparel export orders cancelled

Ibrahim Hossain Ovi
Published : 14:16, Mar 23, 2020 | Updated : 14:18, Mar 23, 2020

Women work at a garment factory inside the Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ) in Savar. REUTERS FILE PHOTOGlobal clothing brands and retailers cancelled import orders worth $1.40 billion from the country as the pandemic of the coronavirus hit their business badly, mostly in European and US markets.
According to Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), a total of 347 apparel exporters faced order cancellations worth $927 million as of Sunday.
Besides, another 220 exporters belonging to the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) also faced work orders worth $480 million cancellations.
Earlier, before the cancellation of work orders, a good number of brands and retailers had suspended their orders from the country.
"As communicated by our members through special email and hotline, a total of 347 factories have faced work order cancellations to the tune of $927 million as of today (Sunday)," said Md Mohiuddin Rubel, a BGMEA director.
He, however, said the figures did not reflect the actual situation, which might be more than initially reported.
"The number of cancelled orders may be more than the figure as we have tallied based on the information given by our members," he added.
BKMEA First Vice President Mohammad Hatem said until evening (Sunday’s evening), a total of 220 factory owners informed us about their cancellations of export orders worth $480 million and it was surging every hour.
“To tackle the situation, the government must provide special fund free of any interest to exporters at least for one year to help factory owners pay their workers,” demanded Hatem.
Industry insiders said further order termination might lead to job cuts in the sector as the factory owners could not pay salaries to their workers.
The $34 billion apparel sector is considered the lifeline of the local economy that employs above four million workers and contributes 84.20% to the total export earnings.
As of Sunday, the country recorded two deaths out of 27 infected with coronavirus, while the novel virus so far killed over 13,049 people across the world.
As a result, the demands for goods declined drastically in the global markets as shops except for essential goods remain closed in the virus-hit countries. Brands like GAP, Nike, Inditex, and Sportswear have closed their stores.