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Thai Garment Makers Under Water

Massive flooding has forced factory closures and shipping headaches.

BANGKOK — Almost 100 Thai apparel makers have been affected by the flooding that has swept the country for the past month and could last for another.

Two of the biggest manufacturers — Castle Peak Holding, which makes outerwear, rain gear and ski jackets, and Nam Yang Textiles, a vertically integrated company that makes textiles and knitwear — were forced to close on Wednesday and could remain shut for two weeks, said Sukij Kongpiyacharn, president of the Thai Garment Manufacturers Association.

Other manufacturers have been affected because workers can’t get to the factories due to flooded access roads, Kongpiyacharn said.

The closure of the firms has reduced 2011 industry growth projections from 10 percent to a bit more than 5 percent, Kongpiyacharn said. The World Bank has downgraded fourth-quarter economic growth in Thailand to negative territory and estimated the loss from the floods at $3.3 billion.

In an effort to meet on-time delivery demands, Thailand’s manufacturers are appealing to the government and to Thai Airlines to charter planes so their goods can be flown, instead of shipped by boat, to their destinations, Kongpiyacharn said.

So far, manufacturers, which also include automotive parts and technology equipment suppliers, have been hard hit by the floods. An estimated 14,000 factories, about 20 percent of the nation’s manufacturers, and some 700,000 workers in 20 provinces have been impacted, and the government has promised it will spend $27 billion to help the country rebuild once the waters recede.

“We haven’t had that much more rain than we had last year and we had no flooding then,” Kongpiyacharn said. “They’ve been trying to protect the city center but they had no good system to manage passage of water. I’m sure that next year the plan will be much better.”