Blog: Michelle RussellCoronavirus continues disruption of apparel and textile supply chain

Michelle Russell | 9 March 2020

Fuelled by new investment from its recent listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange, fashion supply chain manager Lever Style is realigning its business model to be the product engine for rising e-commerce brands. Raising around US$20m, the firm plans to use the listing proceeds to align its platform even more closely with these nimble new digital startups, help fund acquisitions that broaden its know-how into additional product categories, and invest in new digital tools to increase agility and shorten delivery times.

Coronavirus is continuing to disrupt the apparel and textile supply chain. Sri Lanka is dealing with a fall in apparel order volumes as the outbreak causes uncertainty among retailers and consumers, while Cambodian officials have warned production will slow at 200 garment factories due to a lack of raw materials. Similarly, a garment factory in the Ayeyarwady region of Myanmar has closed due to raw material shortages from China, leaving over 1,000 employees out of work.

A survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in China (AmCham China)has found the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on its members has been "significant", with travel disruptions and reduced staff productivity presenting the biggest challenges. While, UK research has revealed a number of retailers are also experiencing supply chain disruption.

Turkish textile manufacturers are reportedly dealing with an influx of orders on the back of the Chinese coronavirus outbreak.

The Philippines department of trade and industry is finalising a roadmap to revive the textile and garment industry. The latest draft of the Textile-Garment Industry Roadmap 2020-2029, lays out the path for an integrated textile-garment industry, strong links between industry, government and the private sector, as well as a dedicated trade office.

The UK Fashion and Textiles Association (UKFT) is introducing two new projects to support future talent in the industry as part of a wider aim to promote the growth of the UK fashion supply chain. The first aims to promote a better understanding of sourcing, production and the benefits of UK manufacturing, while the second addresses one of the major barriers to growth; attracting new talent.

A new study from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) has alleged more than 80,000 Uyghurs were transferred out of Xinjiang between 2017-19 to work in factories including ones making garments and footwear.

Fashion's fight against climate change is a drop in the water if we don't tackle shipping. Despite its importance, the sector often takes a back seat when it comes to climate initiatives, and for some it is seen as a less-contaminating option compared to other forms of transport. Although not often tackled head-on, fashion companies have taken steps towards improving their practices in this area.

The Trump administration has said it will focus on new trade agreements with the UK, the European Union and Kenya this year, while continuing to "aggressively" enforce US trade laws and advocating for further changes at the WTO.

We've released the latest monthly roundup of updates to key free trade agreements and trade preference programmes involving the United States and European Union.

Monthly trade programme roundup - February 2020.

In other news, Bangladesh grows digital payments for garment workers, H&M will begin offering access to its global supply chain as a service to external companies, and the first science-based methodology to map and measure plastic leakage across corporate value chains has launched.

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