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ILO outlines 3 scenarios for Asian garment sector recovery trajectory

Jul '21
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock
Looking to the post-pandemic period, a new research brief by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) outlines three scenarios of trajectory for the Asian garment industry’s recovery: repeat, regain and renegotiate. It argues that the only viable way to a just transition is a ‘renegotiate’ scenario built on social dialogue and guaranteed worker protections, with investment in enterprise growth and productivity that benefits all in the garment supply chain.

Without any deliberate changes and structural reforms for the post-pandemic reconfiguration of the industry, the ‘repeat’ scenario is likely to have unequal impacts on workers, particularly women, the research brief, titled ‘The post-COVID-19 garment industry in Asia’, said.

Some workers will benefit from consolidation and automation, but potentially many workers will be left unemployed or in low-quality jobs. In the ‘repeat’ scenario, decent work deficits will persist in large swathes of the industry.

The ‘regain’ scenario envisages an acceleration of the pre-crisis trends and the further bifurcation of the industry, with both positive and negative connotations for decent work.

The renegotiate scenario includes wide-ranging and deliberate reforms that reimagine the business model, with social and environmental sustainability assuming an integrated and integral role at its core.

The COVID-19 crisis caused a sharp decline in global trade in garments, largely in the first half of 2020. Imports from some of the main global consumer markets for garments declined sharply. Garment exports of some garment-producing countries plunged by as much as 70 per cent, according to the research brief.

Brands have also been consolidating their global supplier bases. Evidence from major brands suggests that supplier networks have contracted quite significantly, with many suppliers concentrated in fewer countries, the research brief added.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)

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