Jan. 8 - Political tension in Bangladesh is squeezing its $22-billion garment industry. Orders from global retailers have dropped, as they worry about unrest and disruptions to supply chains. Michaela Cabrera reports.
The political crisis in Bangladesh caused by a bitter rivalry between the two main parties is taking its toll on the country's 22-billion dollar garment industry. Factories such as Ananta, which hires 7,000 workers and supplies garments for Gap, H&M and Walmart - are seeing orders drop by about 25 percent. Supply chains are also hit by strikes and roadblocks instigated by opposition activists - which have halted delivery trucks. Shipment costs have tripled, with drivers facing risks of deadly petrol bomb attacks. Such unrest has scared away investors, who have shifted their orders to other manufacturers such as Vietnam, India and Cambodia. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MANAGING DIRECTOR OF EVINCE GROUP AND FORMER PRESIDENT OF BANGLADESH GARMENT MANUFACTURERS AND EXPORTERS ASSOCIATION, ANWAR CHOWDHURY, SAYING: "Customer are really concerned that the investment that they are doing - whether it's been secured or not. Of course, they have to have this kind of feelings because we ourselves, really worried that whether at all our investment is secured or not, whether at all we can deliver the goods on time or not." Bangladesh's garment industry is second only to China's, and it employs about 5 million people directly, while tens of millions more -- from truck drivers to other labourers are dependent on this crucial sector.