Already reeling, textile industries hit hard by COVID-19

The textile industry, which was suffering from problems before the pandemic, was hit hard by COVID-19. The industry employs around 18,400 people in Jordan. (Photo: Unsplash)
AMMAN — The textile sector has been hard-hit by the pandemic and the subsequent economic collapse, according to industry insiders.

Ehab Qadri, the representative of the leather industries and knitting sector at the Jordan Chamber of Industry, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a damaging impact on the leather and weaving sector, as it is still among the sectors most affected by the pandemic. اضافة اعلان

Qadri said that the local sales of small and medium enterprises have been greatly affected by a decline in demand of more than 60 percent over the past years, as a result of a decrease in demand in the local market, since leather products and knits are non-essential commodities.

Additionally, he noted the impact of the comprehensive and partial curfews that limit the movement of people and the sector’s ability to sell its products, especially during the seasonal holidays, in addition to the closure of schools and universities.

Qadri stressed the need for the government to make a decision during the second half of Ramadan regarding the reopening of economic sectors, the reduction of the curfew, and the abolition of the comprehensive Friday curfew, which exhausted most economic sectors and greatly affected purchasing power.

The government on Wednesday did announce an end to the Friday lockdown, while leaving in place curfew times.

Khaled Omrani, member of the General Syndicate of Workers in the Textile and Apparel Industry, said that there are around 74,130 workers in the sector, 18,402 of whom are Jordanians working in 94 factories. Omrani explained that garments and related exports were valued at over 1.9 billion and accounted for about 23 percent of the country’s total exports in 2019 with 11 percent growth compared to 2018.

Asaad Al-Qawasmi, a representative of the garment sector at the Jordan Chamber of Commerce, claimed that there is no specific measurement of closures caused by the pandemic in the garment sector. “Yes, there are clear closures, especially among small merchants, but there is no specific number for them,” he said. Qawasmi added that no major brands had left Jordan due to the pandemic and restrictions despite the closure of smaller businesses.

“Nobody left us recently. The last brand that left Jordan was about six years ago,” he said. He stressed the importance of opening the commercial sectors as soon as possible to sell accumulated stocks.

MP Ahmed Al-Sarahneh, head of the Health Committee at the House of Representatives, said that government policies such as the continued closure of businesses and restrictions on the movement of people, in addition to the curfew hours have affected the national economy in almost every sector.

“The economic impact is clear. There are many local and international companies and brands affected, some of them closed, some of them reduced the number of branches, and others left the governorates and were satisfied with opening only in Amman,” the MP said. Sarahneh emphasized the danger of these changes on the percentage of manpower needed and the increase in unemployment rates.

MP Khaled Abu Hassan, head of the investment and economic committee in the Lower House, echoed Sarahneh and stressed the importance of promptly addressing the economic situation. “The priority now must be to deal with the effects of closures,” he said. Abu Hassan also pointed out that the economic collapse is global nor exclusive to Jordan’s economy.

According to Abu Hassan, loosening restrictions is vital to restoring the Jordanian economy’s power. “It is a must to reopen sectors since they represent an important support for the national economy,” he said. “Also, we have to strengthen people’s purchasing power by addressing the previous problems that existed before the pandemic, such as simplifying and facilitating government procedures, unifying the customs tariff clauses in one clause, reducing customs duties, reviewing the tax base, in addition to reducing the bank benefits granted either to companies or individuals.”

Abu Hassan also emphasized the importance of reducing the energy bill which is one of the most important factors to making the economy competitive. “The energy costs must be re-examined in order to achieve two goals: the first is to develop the existing industries and the second is to reduce unemployment rates, as the energy bill will support local industries that support manpower,” he concluded.

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