Although their potential is underutilised due to low volume of usual orders, the study evidenced that most firms have the capacity to produce personal protective equipment (PPE), which could save their companies and thousands of jobs

Although their potential is underutilised due to low volume of usual orders, the study evidenced that most firms have the capacity to produce personal protective equipment (PPE), which could save their companies and thousands of jobs

Clothing manufacturers in Haiti have revealed they expect at least a 30% loss in revenues as a result of the Covid pandemic, but the same study shows there is significant opportunity in the production of personal protective equipment (PPE), which could attract new investment and save thousands of jobs.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has partnered with L'Association des Industries d'Haïti (ADIH) to help the apparel sector in the country navigate and recover from the adverse impacts of Covid-19 and attract investment opportunities in the country.

A study conducted by the two between May and June 2020, with funding from the Korean-IFC Partnership Program (KIPP), interviewed 33 firms from the apparel sector that represent 87% of ADIH's membership and collectively employ more than 50,000 workers.

The survey is said to provide key insights to help public and private decision-makers navigate the crisis and signals opportunities for the export-oriented garment sector in the country.

On the supply side, it confirmed the difficulties manufacturers were facing in accessing raw materials, working capital, and the adverse impacts of restrictions on factory operations during the first months of the pandemic due to the sanitary emergency announced by the Haitian government.

Companies indicated that by June, half of orders were reduced or cancelled and a third of the jobs were lost. By August, businesses were still operating at 75% of their capacity, often with reduced workdays per week.  The majority of respondents expect at least a 30% loss in revenues in 2020 as a result of the crisis.

At the time of the survey, only 22% of respondents were producing at least 60% of their previous capacity. All but one firm reported reductions in and cancellations of orders, and 52% of all firms saw reductions or cancellations of more than 50%. 

The study did, however, identify encouraging data for business opportunities in the sector. Although their potential is underutilised due to the low volume of usual orders, the study evidenced that most firms have the capacity to produce PPE, which "could save their companies and thousands of jobs and contribute to satisfying the growing global demand."

"The report has been a powerful tool to facilitate the dialogue with our membership and public institutions and provides valuable insight on the opportunities for the apparel industry in Haiti to meet the growing global demand for protective equipment and attract more investments," said Wilhelm Lemke, president of ADIH.

ADIH members have strived to urgently implement the health protection measures established by the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) to not only protect their human resources but also to ensure that these measures, which have been maintained to date, allow the factories to continue to produce reduced orders of garments in accordance with their buyers' requirements, thus enabling them to export the new PPE production to the foreign market.

To take advantage of these opportunities and help the industry in its recovery from the pandemic, IFC will continue to work with the public and private sector to support retention of jobs and investment in the industry, and help companies shift to the production of PPE, find new apparel goods to be produced for export, and attract new investments.

"IFC has supported Haiti's apparel industry for more than a decade, during both the good times and also difficult times, and with the current challenges IFC is pleased to be working with this important sector to reach its potential," said Judith Green, IFC manager for the Caribbean. "Our partnership with ADIH and the Government of Haiti is focused on helping the apparel sector navigate the impact of the pandemic and I am confident given IFC's track record in Haiti and tailored approach this project will yield the desired results."

The apparel industry is Haiti's largest formal employer, providing jobs for over 55,000 Haitians, supporting more than 450,000 people. Before Covid-19, it accounted for 90% of Haiti's exports of goods.

Click here for the full report.