Turkey’s clothing and textile industry — the most crucial branch of the country’s economy in terms of production, exports and employment — has emerged as the worst-hit industrial sector in the coronavirus pandemic, with no apparent prospects of a quick recovery.

Industrial production data, released by the Turkish Statistical Institute last week, shows that clothing and textile production in March, when the coronavirus officially reached Turkey, shrank respectively 20% and 14% from February, while the overall decline in the manufacturing industry stood at 7.5%. The downtick has apparently continued since then and the outlook reportedly remains far from promising for June.

Clothing and textiles have been among the first items that households forego during the pandemic, resulting in some of the sharpest slumps in consumer demand globally and raising the specter of unemployment for hundreds of thousands of workers in the sector, especially in Asia. The entire global chain, from cotton and fiber suppliers to retail shops, has been affected.

Written by Mustafa Sönmez