HANOI, April 7 — Vietnamese garment makers felt the impact of a global slowdown dampening demand in their key markets as the industry’s exports dropped 17.4 percent to 7.2 billion U.S. dollars in the first quarter from a year earlier, according to the country’s General Statistics Office.

Textiles and garments, Vietnam’s second-largest export earner after smartphones and electronics, have been hit as consumers in the U.S., Europe and other big markets cut spending on clothing, said Cao Huu Hieu, chief executive of the country’s top textile and garment maker Vinatex.

Vietnamese manufacturers are faced with a sharp decline in orders as global demand has shrunk by over 60 percent, resulting in a contraction of up to more than 63 billion U.S. dollars in the global textile market, Hieu added.

Local companies had to cut about 20 percent of their production and many had been forced to reduce their workforce, said Nguyen Huu Tuan, a senior executive of listed Thanh Cong Group.

Other firms also reported a drop of more than 20 percent in both order quantity and value, Pham Xuan Hong, chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Textile and Garment – Embroidery Association, told local media.

The hit to the textile and garment industry puts further pressure on Vietnam’s economy in the first quarter which grew at the second-lowest rate since 2011.

Vietnam saw 44 billion U.S. dollars of apparel exports last year, falling short of its targeted 47 billion U.S. dollars, government data showed.

Despite all challenges, textile and garment businesses are looking to the second half of the year with optimism as inflation pressure on major export markets like the U.S. and Europe would ease, combined with benefits from new-generation free trade agreements, which could lead to the growth of the demand side.

The textile and apparel association expects exports to reach above 45 billion U.S. dollars this year.


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