World’s garment workers face ruin as fashion brands refuse to pay $16bn

Analysis of trade figures reveals huge power imbalance as suppliers and workers in poorest parts of the world bear cost of Covid downturn

Powerful US and European fashion companies have refused to pay overseas suppliers for more than $16bn (£12.3bn) of goods since the outbreak of Covid-19, with devastating implications for garment workers across the world, according to analysis of newly released import data.

Two US-based groups, the Center for Global Workers’ Rights (CGWR) and the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), used previously unpublished import databases to calculate that garment factories and suppliers from across the world lost at least $16.2bn in revenue between April and June this year as brands cancelled orders or refused to pay for clothing orders they had placed before the coronavirus outbreak.

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