US garment exports to "double"

A garment factory in Yangon Region.

US President Barack Obama says trade benefits will be returned to Myanmar under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) with manufacturers hoping exports will spiral as a consequence. It is a US trade programme designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 4,800 products from 129 designated countries and territories.

The United States granted the GSP in 1976 and withdrew it in 1989, one year after the 8888 uprising was violently crushed by the military. 

Myint Soe, the chairman of Myanmar Garment Entrepreneurs' Association, said that the main market for clothing was the United States and he expected it to double next year.

He added that garment export volumes reached US$817 million in 2001, with about US$500 going to the US. In 2004, clothing exports started to Japan and fetched US$700 million as the US imposed sanctions. In 2013, the EU offered the GSP to Myanmar and export volumes reached US$1.65 billion in 2015.

Myanmar exports agricultural produce, marine and manufactured goods to the US and imports personal products, investment materials and household goods, according to the Ministry of Commerce