Economic Effects of COVID-19 on Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association Members

Authors
Laura Boudreau

The COVID-19 pandemic is striking the global apparel value chain extremely hard from multiple directions. Apparel sectors in developing countries, which play critical roles in these countries’ industrialization and economic growth, are arguably most vulnerable to this shock. In Bangladesh, where the apparel sector constitutes more than 80 percent of exports, the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) reports that exports during the first 15 days of April 2020 were 84 percent lower than the corresponding period in 2019. The BGMEA is a national trade organization of garments manufacturers; its approximately 4376 members account for 100% of Bangladesh’s woven garment exports and more than 95% of its sweater exports.

In this context, Laura Boudreau will conduct two-round panel survey of a representative sample of 550 BGMEA member establishments that will cover several critical topics: business competitiveness; production activities; COVID-19 disruptions, coping strategies, and access to assistance; supply chain relationships; and expectations. Each survey round will entail two components: 1) a phonebased survey and 2) a short, Excel-based questionnaire. The follow-up round will occur six months following the first-round survey and will entail a shorter questionnaire that focuses on dynamic outcomes.

This research will contribute evidence to support informed policymaking along several dimensions. First, beyond characterizing COVID-19’s direct economic impacts on firms, the project will document its differential impacts by supply chain, ownership types, management practices, and industrial relations. These findings can inform whether certain kinds of factories are more in need of technical assistance, wage subsidies, or other policies to mitigate the negative impact of the shock. Further, they can support novel, evidence-based interventions to speed up recovery. Second, through collaboration with Bangladesh’s Ministry of Commerce, the project will be able to link the survey data to administrative customs records, which will increase the potential policy impacts of both sources. Lastly, this project is coordinating with multiple other streams of COVID-related research to amplify its own and the other projects' policy impacts.

Authors

Laura Boudreau

University of California, Berkeley