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In October 2021, Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) and the Vietnam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association (LEFASO), with the support of Fair Wear, CNV Internationaal, CDI, IDH, and Care International Vietnam, successfully organised a virtual four-party dialogue on “Coming together for the sustainable recovery of Vietnam garment and footwear industries”.
Representatives were present from a variety of governmental departments, enterprises, trade unions, and brands. The stakeholders involved in the event evaluated the impacts of COVID-19 on enterprises and workers in the garment and footwear industry in Vietnam. In front of a 250-strong audience, they discussed what it will take to sustainably recover the sector.
The fourth COVID-19 wave in Vietnam, which commenced in April 2021, has had a much more severe impact than previous waves. The pandemic has directly affected industrial zones, causing thousands of workers to become infected with the virus and suspended production of thousands of enterprises.
Challenges like inconsistent COVID-19 restrictions, order cancellations, late delivery penalties have put enterprises at risk of bankruptcy and led to workers losing their jobs and incomes, becoming at risk of poverty and mental health problems.
In the opening speech, Mr Iwan Rutjens, First Secretary, Royal Netherlands Embassy in Vietnam, reaffirmed the crucial role of social dialogue in recovery, emphasising that a “sustainable textile value chain is a blueprint to the future and healthy recovery because sustainable business models contribute to addressing the various challenges within the industry. But the transition requires systematic change and asks for collaboration”.
Representatives of each of the four organising parties pointed out the solutions and recommendations for sustainable recovery of Vietnam garment and footwear industries: