Burma ClothingBurmese Clothing
Myanmar apparel industry::: Burma apparel industry
The Stitch Times last edition debated how Myanmar or Burma, as it was formerly called, is on its way to attracting investments from global actors who may want to benefit from lower salaries than anywhere else on the global clothing trading card.
A number of compromises have been made, either renewed or examined by the two main actors, the European Union and the United States. Burma's clothing manufacturing sector seems to be growing as the once Western avoided land begins to overhaul. Since Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy leaders, was released in November 2010, the government of Burma has taken action to strengthen external ties and draw international invest.
Extensive EU and US trading sanctioning is now being relaxed - with increased diplomacy following Suu Kyi's recent elections to Burma's parliamentary assembly. "After the US and EU sanction has been removed, we can anticipate a 100-200% increase in exports over the next few years," says Evelin Petkov, director of Bagan Capital Ltd, the mother corporation of Myanmar Business Network, a locally owned industrial regulator located in Yangon, the country's production center.
Myanmar is a rather small actor in the global clothing industry. In 2011, Burma was exporting $770 million of clothing mainly to Japan, Germany, South Korea and other EU member states, according to officials. However, before US penalties were introduced in 2003, the US was the main consumer of Myanmar textile; in recent years the markets have expanded to Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Turkey.
The aim of loosening penalties is to create tens of thousand job opportunities in this area. "There are currently over 200 apparel plants in Myanmar that employ about 20,000 people," Petkov said. "By the time after the penalties, when the job losses caused by the penalties are recovered, Myanmar's clothing industries may employ up to 100,000 more.
Outsourcing labor to Burma is much less expensive, which provides significant costs saving for West African producers, as Myanmar laborers are among the least-paying in Asia and earn an annual salary of $2 per dollar, compared to $20 per dollar per dollar per day in neighbouring Thailand. However, there are many operating issues, including common blackouts and operating barriers, and new labor legislation that allow employees to apply for higher salaries and better working practices for the first consecutive few month, which has led to strike and downtime in the Yangon area.