The Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association has published the country’s first ever Code of Conduct, in a move that aims to set out responsible and ethical business practices for its growing apparel industry, reports Just Style magazine on February 2.
MGMA, which represents around 300 member companies, drafted the code that was released on February 2 with officials from the EU-funded SMART Myanmar programme following a comprehensive series of workshops and meetings with international brands and partners.
The aim of the Code of Conduct is to provide a benchmark for responsible business practices in Myanmar’s garment sector.
The Code comes at a time when Myanmar is working to open up the country as a manufacturing base, but takes into account the concerns voiced on the factory floor. Workers rights activists and factory workers have often complained about the working environment and low wage levels in the factories.
Described as a first for Myanmar’s apparel producers, the Code includes International Labour Organisation Core Conventions combined with the strictures of Myanmar’s own laws.
The country’s garment sector is growing and currently consists of 300 companies with between 150,000 and 250,000 workers, depending on estimates. According to the report, garment exports exceeded US$1 billion [K1,000 billion] in the 2013-2014 fiscal year, making up around 10 percent of the country’s overall exports.
The SMEs for Environmental, Accountability, Responsibility and Transparency (SMART) programme was launched in 2014 with European assistance. The aim is to support sustainable production of garments “made in Myanmar” and strive to increase the international competitiveness of small and medium enterprises in this sector, according to SMART Myanmar.
The organisation says the challenge is to implement all the necessary changes on a factory level as well as on a policy level to empower the industry to grow. SMART Myanmar says it plays in important role in this process because it works on the factory level to create showcases for other industrialists to see how this can be achieved.
SMART Myanmar also say it addresses the need for policy changes in dialogues with the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association and the Ministry of Commerce.