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Myanmar's textile industry is emerging from the shadow

Owing to the military dictatorship and to multiple embargoes, Myanmar has been ignored by foreign investors for more than 50 years. It is now time for Burma to experience an unprecedented political and economic revival. Since the country has paved the way for a democratization process, the Burmese GDP increases by approximately 7% each year.

Myanmar has always had abundant natural resources and a particularly low labor cost but there was no political willingness to build on those strengths to attract foreign investors and capital. However, things are changing with President Thein Sein who has made economy one of its highest priorities. In addition, the US and the UE have recently ceased their boycotts and sanctions against Myanmar.

The country’s opening provides major opportunities for western companies, especially for buyers who are looking for alternative sourcing….

The textile & garment industry in Myanmar

Despite an economy which suffers from the lack of infrastructures, textile exports were up by more 30% between 2013 and 2014. Moreover, the association of Burmese textile factories (MGMA) now has more than 300 members and claims that two textile factories are created each week since June 2014.

The development of textile & garment industry

Thanks to the warming of diplomatic and economic relations with western countries, Myanmar could play a significant role as supplier of American and European garments. By the way, some famous western brands have already adopted the “Made in Myanmar”.

The Burmese government is also putting new focus on the modernization of this industry in order to develop its economy. This year Yangon, the historical capital of textile production, organized the “4th Myanmar International Textile & Garment Industry Exhibition”. The exhibition gathered multiple Burmese factories which exposed their new innovative textile solutions.

With the support of SMART Myanmar, some representatives of Burmese factories came in Europe on February in order to better understand European buyers’ needs and requirements. Those meetings show all the efforts made by Burma to satisfy western purchasers.

Three advantages of Myanmar sourcing

  • Textile heritage and the modernization

Today Myanmar presents a strong sourcing potential for fashion & textile brands. Indeed, the country’s textile production is based on a world-renowned know-how and Burmese fabrics are famous for their quality for years.

However, Myanmar modernizes its processes in order to further improve textile quality and to confirm its benchmark status in the world of textile. New manufacturing areas - more modern - are being developed near Yangon. The construction of the Thilawa Special Economic Zone is a perfect illustration of that modernization.

  • The influx of investments

If before 2013 the Burmese textile industry was suffering from a lack of budget and funding, it is not true anymore thanks to the influx of capital. Coming from foreign countries or from the Burmese government, this influx allows factories to modernize their processes in order to better carter for the specific needs of brands.

  • An abundant and cheap workforce

Myanmar has an important workforce which is also cheaper than other Asian countries. The average wage of a textile worker was between 50 and 60 USD in 2014.

 

Therefore, Myanmar is a very promising country regarding sourcing and textile production. It still has to catch up with some more economically and politically advanced countries but conditions seem optimum to allow western brands to get high-quality textiles at low costs.