The coronavirus pandemic has sent global markets into turmoil and the detrimental impact on the global economy continues to evolve at an unprecedented speed.
Global supply chains have been disrupted, local economies have been wrecked by businesses collapsing, and millions have lost their jobs. Those countries with developing economies will be hit the hardest.
Rushanara Ali MP has written to the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for International Trade urging them to lead efforts to protect global trade and supply chains.
The letter highlights the damage caused by multinational Western firms backing out of business contracts.
It included the example of the Ready-Made Garments (RMG) industry in Bangladesh, where $3.7 billion USD of orders have been cancelled already. £2.4 billion of these contracts are from UK based retailers, including ASDA, New Look, Edinburgh Woollen Mills, Peacocks, Sports Direct and Urban Outfitters.
On 31 March 2020 the Bangladeshi Garment Manufacturers Exporters Association reported that 25% of garment workers (around 1 million) had lost their jobs or had been furloughed without pay. In the last 72 hours the Government of Bangladesh has confirmed that the entire RMG workforce has been sent home, and will receive a partial of wage of 60% from the factory they are employed by. The Bangladeshi Government has had to step in and provide the factories with loans to finance this, as some multinational firms have failed to honour their contracts, and have not paid what they owe.
Rushanara Ali MP said:
“I am calling on the UK Government to take all the necessary steps to support those British companies that are struggling to stay afloat, so they are able to fulfil their obligations to suppliers. In doing so, this will protect those who work to supply our UK high-street goods.
“It is morally reprehensible for big multinational firms, who can afford to pay, to back out of their contracts. In doing so they are putting millions of workers and their families at risk of starvation. Their actions are potentially de-stabilising countries and damaging the prospect of recovery from a global recession.
“In addition, Bangladesh is the world's largest producer of garments and textiles after China. If this supply chain collapses, then the world's capacity to produce PPE will be damaged.
“The UK must lead efforts to ensure that global trade and supply chains are protected."
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Notes to Editors
1) For further information or comment please contact Rushanara Ali MP’s Office on 020 7219 7200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
2) You can find more information on Rushanara’s work in Parliament on her website - https://www.rushanaraali.org/.