This report presents findings and observations from Better Work Jordan’s interactions in the garment sector throughout 2020. This report provides an update on the state of the garment industry in Jordan, and of select non-garment factories that the programme is working with as well. The report draws from multiple data sources, including assessment findings from unannounced compliance visits to factories, data the programme collects during regular interactions with factories (advisory data), and survey data gathered over the last year and a half from workers and managers. The triangulation of these different data sources allows for a deep understanding of the successes of the industry and areas that require further work.
COVID-19 has had a major impact on the garment industry throughout the world, and Jordan is no exception. However, compared to other garment industries, which saw major contractions of 30 to 50 per cent, Jordan has been spared the worst effects of the pandemic and resulting economic downturn with only a 15 per cent reduction in garment exports with a full rebound expected by the end of 2021. The sector has proved relatively resilient in its ability to adapt to new market trends (for example, by pivoting to casual products) and buyers have continued sourcing from Jordan – in some cases even increasing their orders. The proximity to the US market, the adaptability of Jordanian factories, and the relatively well-managed epidemic situation in Jordan have all stabilized business.
While the Jordanian garment sector has shown resilience, COVID-19 has also exposed some weaknesses in the industry. Some factories had severe violations, such as forced labour, inaccurate and late payment of wages, and reductions in the number of meals provided to workers. These factories make up a small share of the garment industry in Jordan, and the swiftness and thoroughness with which tripartite stakeholders and brands dealt with the issues is a positive sign of the maturity of the sector. The majority of factories had the normal set of compliance violations observed in past years with the pressures of COVID-19 increasing instances of non-compliance in some areas.