MEXICO CITY — Tropical storms Iota and Eta could cost Central America up to $200 million in garment exports and see shipments delayed by one to two months as clothing factories are forced to idle production, industry observers told WWD.
They added the region, which sent nearly $7 billion of apparel to the U.S. last year, will need billions to rebuild and finance new infrastructure projects to make it more resilient to adverse weather events stemming from global warming.
“It’s a tragedy,” sighed Mario Canahuati, president of the Honduran Manufacturers’ Association (AHM) and member of the Canahuati texiles family conglomerate in the nation, whose maquila sector saw the most damage from nearly two weeks of storms as Eta hit Nov. 3, followed by Iota on Nov. 16. Both were Category 4 storms. Eta affected 3.6 million people across the isthmus, pummeling Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala with catastrophic winds, rain and flooding. Meanwhile, Iota is said to have displaced 400,000 people in Nicaragua, though its apparel supply chain was understood to have been left largely unscathed by the storm.
Canahuati declined to estimate how the storms damaged Honduras’ textiles pole, a major supplier of basic T-shirts and underwear to the U.S.,