By Kyaw Htike Soe
Myanmar fetched US$3.6 billion from the garment exports in the current financial year, a decrease of some US$60 million compared to the same period a year earlier, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce. Myanmar’s textile sector generated US$3.675 billion in export revenue in the same period last year, the ministry’s figures said.
At present, some garment factories shut down due to lack of raw material and thousands of workers became unemployed. Some garment factories in Myanmar have reduced working hours and cut jobs and some factories have not received orders from abroad amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, U Myint Soe, Chairman of Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) said. Myanmar’s CMP (cut, make and pack) garment factories are facing financial hardships and struggling to survive due to the lack of orders from European Union market, he added. The European Union in April this year launched a €5 million (K7.9 billion) Myan Ku emergency cash fund to provide garment workers who have lost their jobs as a result of coronavirus pandemic.
Myanmar’s garment export saw a five-fold increase in the number of workers in the past five years, according to the ministry. The country’s garment production value has soared tenfold over the past four years, and it is expected to reach US$5 billion this year. The promising garment industry in Myanmar has grown significantly in the past five years. The country’s export income from the garment and textile industry has increased almost threefold over the past two year. The CMP garment sector contributes to over 20 per cent to the country’s exports. The total export earnings from Myanmar’s garment and textile industry are expected to reach US$10 billion by 2024, according to the MGMA.
Myanmar’s CMP garment sector earns about US$ 300 million annually and the country will get US$3 billion if it can manage to shift from the CMP system to the free-on-board (FOB) system. Myanmar’s manufacturing sector is largely dependent on the CMP garment and textile exports. The MGMA estimates that over 500 factories in the country offer job opportunities for nearly 500,000 workers. Myanmar is considered one of the fastest-growing garment and footwear suppliers in the world, with apparel exports alone climbing from US$2.7 billion to US$3.86 billion last year. About 80 per cent of the new investments in the cut-make-pack (CMP) businesses in Myanmar came from China. Myanmar’s garment and textile sector is said to be the right track to meet a target of US$10 billion in exports revenue set under a 10-year plan.
The export target and an aim to create one million job prospects in the sector had been designed under the Myanmar Garment Industry Strategic Plan 2014-2024 by the MGMA. The growth of Myanmar’s garment and textile industry has materialized at a time when wages in other regional production hubs such as China, Vietnam and Cambodia have been hiked. Myanmar’s CMP garments are mainly shipped to Japan and Europe, along with the Republic of Korea, China, and the US. The European Union (EU) is its biggest market, accounting for more than half of the country’s ready-made garment exports. Myanmar’s garment exports have been increasing yearly, especially since 2013, when the EU granted goods from the Southeast Asian country preferential access to its market.
Around 1.1 million Myanmar people are currently employed in garment, textile, footwear and accessories factories throughout the country. Additional tens of thousands indirectly work in the industry through logistics and transport services. Myanmar fetched some US$850 million from CMP garment exports in the fiscal year 2015-2016, US$2 billion in FY 2016-2017, US$2.5 billion in FY 2017-2018, and US$4.6 billion in FY 2018-2019.