On Vietnam factory floor, worries grow about global downturn

VAN LAM, Vietnam (AFP) – The whirr of 200 sewing machines fills a Vietnamese factory hall, where workers and bosses hope desperately that the wheels will keep spinning once the global downturn hits home.

Row upon row of workers, most of them women, are busy making handbags, backpacks and briefcases for customers as far away as Germany, Hungary and Mexico in this plant, set amid rice fields on the outskirts of Hanoi.

               File photo shows workers sewing on a production ... 
Workers sewing on a production line at a garment factory in Ho Chi Minh City. The whirr of 200 sewing machines fills a Vietnamese factory hall, where workers and bosses hope desperately that the wheels will keep spinning once the global downturn hits home.Photo:/AFP

They are the backbone of Vietnam’s post-war success story, part of an army of low-wage labourers who have transformed a poverty stricken command economy since Vietnam in the 1980s embraced the Asian model of export-led growth.

For more than a decade, textile and apparel exports have helped drive national economic growth rates above 7.5 percent — lifting the fortunes of businesses such as the Ladoda Company, whose staff grew to 400 from 15 in 16 years.

But now — with the dark clouds of recession gathering over the United States, Europe and many of Vietnam’s other export markets — many of the workers here have started to worry that tougher times may lie ahead.

“I heard on TV and the radio that the world economy is in bad shape,” said 33-year-old Nguyen Thi Thuy, who supports two children with her performance based wage of around 1.7 million dong (100 dollars) a month.

“I am sure it will affect Vietnam and our company in some way.”

It is a concern shared by the management of the company, although both Thuy and her boss said that through hard work and innovation this family-run business hoped to dodge the bullet of a global downturn.

“We are worried,” admitted deputy…

Read the rest:
http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/afp/081019/world/
finance_banking_vietnam_exports_1

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