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Myanmar’s garment industry must deliver value for money to stay sustainable

Data from the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) show 2017 was a good year for the Myanmar garment export sector. During the seven months of April and November, around $1.5 billion worth of garment products were exported from the country and bound for warehouses owned by Uniqlo and Primark in Japan and Europe.

Myanmar’s garment export have been growing exponentially following rising labour costs in former low-cost manufacturing hubs such as China as well as increasing demand from global clothes, lingerie and sportswear brands due largely to growing affluence in many parts of the world. Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) reports the country’s garment sector represents the country’s second largest export sector and it is expanding. During the fiscal 2016-17, the industry exported garments worth around $2.2 billion, up from $1.8 billion the previous year. During 2013-14 and 2014-15, garment exports totalled $1.2 billion and $1.5 billion, respectively.

Industry watchers say new strategies need to be implemented for growth to remain sustainable. Daw Yin Yin Moe, Secretary of the Myanmar Textile Manufacturers’ Association cautions, “The garment sector has grown significantly over the past three years, but to continue expanding, we are planning to reach more customers in international markets and raise demand.”

Currently, about a third of locally produced garments are exported to Japan, while a quarter each is shipped to Europe and South Korea, respectively, according to the MOC. The balance is shipped in smaller quantities to China and the US. U Kyaw Win, Vice-President, MGMA, advised, to serve a wider range of markets, the industry will cooperate with the Government to host the Myanmar Gar-Tex Expo in Yangon next March. The exhibition will promote Myanmar-made garment products and expose local manufacturers to international competitors and customers,

The exhibition, which will showcase over 80 garment participants and host up to 3,500 trade visitors worldwide, will be organised by the Ministry of Industry in cooperation with MGMA, the Myanmar Textile Manufacturer Association, Textile Engineer Association, and Vietnam Textile & Apparel Association.

MGMA is confident that if all goes well, the Myanmar garment sector could be valued at around $8 to $10 billion in ten years’.

 
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