In an open letter, Belgian importers, traders and processors of wood, via their trade association Fedustria, called for political leadership to prevent the collapse of the economy and prosperity. Fedustria represents the Belgian wood, furniture and textile industry.
According to Fedustria, the sector generates a turnover of approximately €10 billion and employs 38,000 people in more than 1,700 companies.
In their open letter, the companies indicate that they are concerned about the health of their employees and their organizations.
They have been struggling with large turnover losses for some time now due to the loss of demand and the closure of, for example, home and interior shops. In addition, there are problems in the supply of raw materials and logistics.
This resulted in high temporary unemployment: in the furniture industry it is 72% and in the wood processing industry at least 48%. Fedustria points to liquidity problems that are becoming increasingly difficult to bridge.
The companies requested political moves to quickly restart the economy, while complying with the necessary safety regulations. They believed that government measures taken so far are insufficient, suggesting that many SMEs urgently need bridging loans, with sufficiently long repayment terms.
Fedustria also complained that while do-it-yourself shops and garden centers had been allowed to reopen, home, furniture and kitchen shops had been required to remain closed. "There is no objective reason for this unequal treatment that also leads to unfair competition", they said Soon after the letter was published, the Belgian government announced that B2B companies and construction sites would be allowed to reopen from 4th May, followed by all stores, without distinction, from 11th May.