Myanmar’s garment sector told to diversify

Myanmar’s garment sector needs to diversify its market due to dwindling orders as a result of the current COVID-19 situation, said the general secretary of the Myanmar Garment Entrepreneurs Association. Daw Khaing Khaing Nwe said that Myanmar’s garment sector must try to expand the market to overcome challenges brought on by the current pandemic, especially with the uncertainty of when the COVID-19 vaccines will be available.

“We do not know when (the vaccine) will come so we must try to diversify,” she said during a press conference.
“We must expand the market. Many of our exports go to the EU but not many to Central America and the Middle East. We will have to try to reach (these regions),” she said. At present, the Myanmar garment markets include the EU, Korea, Japan and Germany but only a small number reach US shores.

Many of these countries’ economies are however struggling, resulting in less orders. “When we look at the Korean (market), their economy is falling. Japan’s economy is not booming. They cannot place many orders. The challenges our buyers face are also challenges for us,” she said, adding that they also encounter fierce competition from other exporting countries.

Countries that import raw fabric from China and Myanmar might consider importing from India or Pakistan, said the general secretary. Daw Khaing Khaing Nwe said the COVID-19 pandemic has also led to a rise in the unemployment rate in the sector. The pandemic led to order cancellations which resulted in jobs becoming rarer and employees being laid off due to foreign investors leaving the country, she said.

So far, as many as 64 CMP (Cut-Make-Pack) factories have closed during this period, resulting in over 25,000 individuals becoming unemployed. The National Export Strategy listed the need for the garment sector to shift from a CMP model to a FOB (Free-On-Board) model to improve the capacity building of the workers and expand the market.
Under a program spearheaded by the UK’s DaNa Facility, local garment factories are also being encouraged to diversify their products, with five local garment factories in Yangon and Bago having started making personal protective equipment (PPE).

Myanmar earned nearly US$4.8 billion from garment exports in fiscal 2019-20, which is down by over US$63 million when compared to the year before, according to the Ministry of Commerce. – Translated

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Source: Myanmar Times

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