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From Asia to the Americas

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Central America is taking advantage of problems in Bangladesh, to make more clothes.

Montreal-based Gildan Activewear plans to invest $350 million in new projects in the Americas during the next year, including at least one plant in the region.

A likely destination is Nicaragua, where labor rates are the lowest in Latin America, and which is the region’s safest country.

Gildan currently has two plants in Nicaragua, and two in Honduras, along with others in the Caribbean and Bangladesh.

The company makes socks, underwear, T-shirts, and other casual clothes, with a total workforce of 30,000.

The collapse earlier this year of a garment factory in Bangladesh has resulted in improved standards of safety in many plants.

At the same time, higher costs in Bangladesh make it advantageous to invest in Central America, which in addition is close to consumers in the United States and Europe, saving producers and consumers time and money.

“One of the advantage of staying in this hemisphere is speed,” said Gildan CEO Glenn Chamandy in a recent conference call.

The company earned $150 million last year, compared to $233 million in 2011, according to the company’s 2012 annual report.