Stephen Gelb, Jodie Keane, Max Mendez-Parra and Dirk Willem te Velde, April 2020
With most of the world currently under lockdown, it is very challenging to keep critical supply chains open. When the coronavirus emerged in China, it shut down many supply chains, affecting electronics, garments and other products. And when the rest of the world also went under lockdown, in Europe and the US many retailers shut, leading to massive declines in consumer demand. Retailers and well-known brands have cancelled orders of garments from their supplier factories in many developing countries. Some have refused to pay suppliers for orders placed, and in some cases do not even pay for work already completed under existing orders but not yet shipped, although some, like H&M and M&S, have treated factories and workers in supply chains a little better. Cancellations by European brands have badly damaged countries such as Bangladesh dependent on garment and footwear exports. There are also global shortages of essential goods, in particular personal protective equipment (PPE). Getting access to ventilators, hand sanitisers, masks and gowns is critical to health and care workers’ safety. Consumers globally have also witnessed empty shelves in supermarkets and major disruptions to food supplies.
Photo: The use of hand sanitiser as a precautionary measure against coronavirus. World Bank / Ousmane Traore. Licence: (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)