As countries around the world respond to the spread of COVID-19 – below is an update from last week’s March 18 report on Latin American government actions as well as reports from CCI staff in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia and Korea.
In the Western Hemisphere, textile and apparel companies in Mexico and Nicaragua
and somewhat in Guatemala, El Salvador and Haiti continues, but this week Colombia and the DR closed (Honduras and Peru closed last week). India and Pakistan industries were closed this week by government lockdowns with Bangladesh virtually closing because of worker transportation issues and reduced demand. Indonesia and Korea are not closed because of government COVID-19 mandates but operating at reduced capacities because of the economic disruptions from the global pandemic.
Below is a summary of government measures in each country although the situation
India: Prime Minister Modi announced on March 24 that India will go on a “complete
Nationwide lockdown” until April 14 with the exception of essential services to be continued like healthcare and groceries. The Indian government has closed international borders; interstate transportation is limited to essential goods; all domestic passenger flights are cancelled with only domestic cargo flights operational. The Indian railway network which carries 23 million passengers every day has also been shut down. Indian textile industry began seeing the order postponements in the beginning of March and now the spinning mills are closed as of March 25 under the national lockdown with no domestic or export shipments. Indian Customs and ports are also under lockdown. The Indian agriculture is in the winter harvest season for grains which now have storage/transportation challenges. Concern for 2020 cotton production (which normally begins planting in mid-April in North India and continues until June in South India) is the distribution of the seeds and other inputs because of transportation lockdown.
Pakistan: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on March 24 a country wide lock down until April 6 with all International flights cancelled as well as road and railway network closed. The Karachi port is open. Only Industries related to food and medicine are in operation. The lockdown will be being enforced with the help police and army.
Textile and apparel factories are closed. Pakistani is a cotton producing country and
while farmers are allowed to work in fields, access to fertilizers, seeds and pesticides
are limited because of market closures.
Bangladesh: Bangladesh government has ordered a 10-day shut down, effective from March 26th to April 4th, to battle the spread of Coronavirus. With the exception of emergency services, all offices and businesses will remain closed during this period.
Government authorities have suspended all domestic and international flights, water
and train transports with road transportation suspended on March 26. Imports of Indian yarn has come to a standstill with many shipments held up in the Bangladesh-India borders as Bangladesh government has closed all movements by road. Bangladesh mills have not been ordered to close but lack of transportation impacts their labor force and spinning mills report no demand for yarn with domestic knitters cancelling orders.
CCI office confirms the wide spread garment cancellations reported in trade press from EU, US, and Japanese buyers.
Indonesia: Indonesian President Widodo declared Jakarta as a “Red Zone City” on
March 18 until further notice requesting citizens to work from home with only essential services (banks, hospitals, supermarkets, etc) open. The rest of Indonesia has not been closed but operating at reduced speed. Schools and universities are closed across all of Indonesia. The Indonesian textile and apparel industry is located
throughout Indonesia with the largest and main clusters of the textile industry in Bandung (1st ), Solo (2nd) and Jakarta (3rd). The factories of all industries, including textile mills, across the country, are still operating some at full capacity. Because Jakarta is now declared a “Red Zone City”, the factories are operating there at about half capacity in this atmosphere of uncertainty as many Indonesian products are exported to Japan, Korea, Europe and the United States.
Korea: Korea has opened back up with schools scheduled to reopen on April 6 since
the COVID-19 outbreak in a religious community on February 20. Large Korean based garment manufacturers with operations through Asia and Latin America are receiving cancellations (not postponement) from US and European buyers as COVID continues to disrupt their operations.
Mexico: Mexican President López Obrador announced today increased COVID-19
containment measures by extending school closure to April 20; protect 65+ year olds; no meetings of more than 100; suspend work activities that requiring public transport.
In Mexico City, restaurants remain open but closings of public places such as gyms, museums, theaters with social distancing encouraged. Airports, borders and ports remain open. Textile and garment manufacturing companies remain operating with reductions in production capacity as orders are reduced, postponed, or canceled. of orders good number of textile and garment makers have started to reduce their production capacity as orders have been cut back, placed on hold or have been cancelled completely. Some companies expect to stop operating in the near future.
Some garment makers are starting to reduce their workforce starting this week. There is industry frustration over lack of guidance from the Mexican government.
Guatemala Expanding the closures announced last week, President Giammattei established a curfew from 4:00 am to 4:00 pm until March 31. Guatemala is seeking loans from International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for COVID-19 crisis support. Approximately 25% of the garment companies are currently operating although many small garment manufacturers have closed. The textile companies are working at 40% capacity due to lack of personnel and the COVID-19 government regulations as companies are working 7:00 am-2:00 pm because of 4:00 pm curfew. The industry expects to go back to normal after April 13th
Honduras extended last week’s 7 day its national curfew until March 329. Airports and borders remain are closed. Honduran government decided to close grocery markets nationwide as many people did not obey the curfew and through “Honduras Solidaria” plan, the government will provide non-perishable food, personal hygiene products, alcohol gel and masks to 800,000 families for 30 days with two biweekly deliveries based on identity cards. Garment industry workers remain suspended until March 29 and receiving they salary during suspension with government and unions will be meeting to evaluate decisions for the coming weeks.
El Salvador: President Bukele has declared a state of national emergency shutting
down the airport to commercial flights and put into effect a 21-day quarantine banning all foreign visitors and all Salvadorans returning home are in quarantine. Anyone attempting to enter the country through “blind spots” risks jail time. Schools are also closed for 21 days, while bars, nightclubs and gyms were ordered closed for two weeks.
Non-essential public employees are home for 30 days as well as private companies must send employees who are older than 60, pregnant or who have underlying conditions, home on paid time off. Most textile and apparel companies stopped operating at the end of last week when the President initially ordered closures, but the industry has been working with the government to implement a health protocol for the textile and clothing sector. This now allows companies to re-start on March 24 so the industry is now in partial operation. The industry reports customs is working normally, and fiscal routes have been set up for the flow of goods related to exports and imports.
Nicaragua: The Government continues to take no real measures in the face of the situation. There is no official number of people infected – the Vice-President has said there are only two cases confirmed – but it is expected that in the next few days the number will grow exponentially. The government continues to allow large crowds. The Nicaraguan textile and garment industry fears that in the second semester of 2020, its production reduction will be between 25% to 45% because of reduced demand from the United States. The drop-in orders, the lack of raw materials and the threat of the coronavirus have caused several free zones to close with hope of opening April 13.
Haiti: The Haitian government has declared a state of emergency, Seaports, schools and factories are now closed after detecting the first two cases of coronavirus. The government has suspended all international flights, except for those coming from the US. The border with the Dominican Republic is closed until further notice. The decision, which put the textile industry’s nearly 60,000 workers out of a job, was taken without consultation with the country’s private sector or labor organizations. As of last Friday, some factories continued operating normally, ignoring the government measures.
Dominican Republic: The country is now under curfew from 8pm to 6 am until April
3rd to all the Dominicans except for vehicles that transport merchandise, supplies, fuel and essential services. President Medina said that the country will only allow the entry of ferry planes for the departure of foreigners who wish to return to their countries, in addition to the arrival of planes, cargo ships and fuels to guarantee the supply of basic products to the population until further notice. Port and airport workers can travel during the curfew hours, providing an authorized company identification can circulated.
Approximately, 90% of the garment industry ceased operations. Companies that are
supplying medical scrubs and masks are the only ones that are operating with some
Colombia President Duque expanded the State of Emergency with a nationwide quarantine until April 13th with the possibility of extending. The decree applies to all of Colombia, including foreign visitors. Only one individual per household may leave home/hotel to: buy food, pharmacy, walk a pet for 20 minutes, access emergency
services and can take only a licensed taxi or public bus if available when necessary to leave the house for one of these approved reasons. All textile and apparel companies are closed except those turning operations into “mask and medical” supplies production to satisfy the current demand of these products for hospitals. All land, air and sea borders will remain shut until May 30. This includes its border with Venezuela where thousands of migrants and refugees cross daily.
Peru: President Vizcarra extended to March 31 last week’s State of Emergency which closed Peru’s borders leaving hundreds of tourist stranded. All shops are closed except for those selling food and pharmacies. All textile and apparel companies remain closed, except for 4 companies that have pivoted to produce face masks and PPE,
Brazil: On March 24th, President Bolsonaro called on mayors and governors to roll
back restrictions they have introduced to curb the spread of Covid-19. The president
described restrictions on public transport, social-distancing measures, and closures of businesses and schools as “scorched-earth” policies. He added that people aged over 60 were at risk, but that most people – including himself – had nothing to fear. Despite the President´s announcement, the Governor of Sao Paulo confirmed the quarantine period until April 7th. (Sao Paulo is 46 million-22% of Brazilian population). On March 19 Brazil restricted restrict the entry of foreign visitors for 15 days at all land borders with Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Suriname and French Guiana, following a similar restriction at the Venezuelan border. Hundreds of Venezuelan migrants and refugees cross the Venezuela-Brazil border daily.
Ecuador: Ecuador’s health and labor ministers resigned on Saturday March 21, just hours after officials announced the number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.
President Moreno confirmed that as of March 25 there will be a national curfew from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. The textile industry is requesting the government to allow nonwoven companies to operate to provide sufficient products to meet the healthcare needs.
Chile: Chile declared a state of catastrophe over the coronavirus outbreak and closed its borders to all foreigners starting on March 18 for an undetermined period. Retail stores such as large department stores like Ripley are only open for customer bank services help customers get cash through their credit cards to buy food during the curfew established by the government.