GENEVA — Global trade in textiles and apparel, impacted by the the coronavirus, contracted by almost 12 percent in the first quarter, outpacing the overall 5 percent decline in the value of international trade in goods, a United Nations report said Thursday.
China registered an 18 percent decline in textile and apparel exports in the first three months of the year, but posted a double-digit recovery in April, with shipments increasing by 11 percent, said Alessandro Nicita, international economist at the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, and a lead author of the study.
U.N. economists say the upturn in China’s textile and apparel exports in April compared to the same month in 2019 was probably due to a rebound in orders that were not shipped in the first quarter.
However, U.S. exports of textiles and apparel, which declined 10 percent in Q1, plummeted 62 percent in April, Nicita said.
In a somber outlook, UNCTAD projects global trade overall in value terms will contract by 27 percent in the second quarter and estimates international trade will decline by “around 20 percent for the year 2020.”
Leading indicators such as the Purchasing Manager Indices, said the report, “also signal further deterioration in international trade in the second quarter. While PMI’s tracking international trade indicate the pace of contraction has slowed in May, they have remained below the 50 points benchmark.”
Meanwhile, a report published by the World Trade Organization Wednesday said manufacturing Least Developed Country exporters, such as of textiles and apparel, “are likely to experience a significant fall in export revenues.”
The WTO report noted, for example, that according to the export promotion agency of Bangladesh, “the country’s exports registered an 83 percent decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019.”
“Reportedly, Bangladesh and Cambodia have received order cancellations worth several billion U.S. dollars. Moreover, some retailers in export destinations have started to file for bankruptcy protection, causing significant worries to suppliers in LDC’s, as existing contracts risk being canceled,” the WTO said.