Garment gore: Myanmar vulnerable to Bangladesh textile horrors

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textile-industryUsing Bangladesh as a cautionary tale, Myanmar should carefully assess the newly found attention it’s receiving to avoid becoming the next garment industry bedlam.

The lifting of sanctions held against Myanmar for decades has since guided the irrepressible hunt conducted by the “fast-fashion” industry to the greenfield potential of the emerging market as if they were seeping out of Bangladesh through osmosis.

Of the 33 investment approvals Myanmar has extended to foreign investors for the first four months of 2013, 15 have been for garment-related industries, according to statistics compiled by the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration, the investment promotion body of the government.

This plying of foreign interest is by no means a spontaneous show of affection, however. Myanmar, like Cambodia, Bangladesh and Vietnam, displays significant shortcomings in terms of worker safety laws, and bars labour unions as well, that allow cost-cutting polices to reign supreme with little worry and any checks and/or balance.

The collapse of a shoe factory in Cambodia earlier this week is just one example of how Bangladesh’s headline-grabbing catastrophe is not an anomaly.

Additionally, Myanmar also offers competitively priced labour, which the industry migrates to instinctively. Comparatively, Myanmar has a per capita income of $1,950, according to the World Bank, while Bangladeshis earn $1,940. While minimums wages are officially posted, there is paltry assurance that they are enforced, especially when factories are aligned with local law enforcement, as the breaking story of enslavement of workers in Indonesia also demonstrated this past week.

Asian nations need to beware inconsistent views in the industry as well to safeguard not just their citizens, but also their budding manufacturing sector’s reputation.

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, has stepped out of an industry-wide accord to address the Bangladesh factory collapse, which recorded over 1,100 deaths. The US retail giant instead wishes to hold its own safety inspections, joining several other major retailers in opting out of any attempt of unity.

The crushing truth is that over 70 per cent of Myanmar’s citizens still subsist from the agriculture sector, and any opportunities to be associated with enticing foreign brands will hook in farmers from across the plains and down the mountains. Indonesia, the Philippines and Cambodia are also in this boat.

Myanmar needs to wisen up, and quickly. Events happening around it will be instructive, not the retailers conducting inspections only because they are pressured to.

 

 

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Using Bangladesh as a cautionary tale, Myanmar should carefully assess the newly found attention it’s receiving to avoid becoming the next garment industry bedlam.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

textile-industryUsing Bangladesh as a cautionary tale, Myanmar should carefully assess the newly found attention it’s receiving to avoid becoming the next garment industry bedlam.

The lifting of sanctions held against Myanmar for decades has since guided the irrepressible hunt conducted by the “fast-fashion” industry to the greenfield potential of the emerging market as if they were seeping out of Bangladesh through osmosis.

Of the 33 investment approvals Myanmar has extended to foreign investors for the first four months of 2013, 15 have been for garment-related industries, according to statistics compiled by the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration, the investment promotion body of the government.

This plying of foreign interest is by no means a spontaneous show of affection, however. Myanmar, like Cambodia, Bangladesh and Vietnam, displays significant shortcomings in terms of worker safety laws, and bars labour unions as well, that allow cost-cutting polices to reign supreme with little worry and any checks and/or balance.

The collapse of a shoe factory in Cambodia earlier this week is just one example of how Bangladesh’s headline-grabbing catastrophe is not an anomaly.

Additionally, Myanmar also offers competitively priced labour, which the industry migrates to instinctively. Comparatively, Myanmar has a per capita income of $1,950, according to the World Bank, while Bangladeshis earn $1,940. While minimums wages are officially posted, there is paltry assurance that they are enforced, especially when factories are aligned with local law enforcement, as the breaking story of enslavement of workers in Indonesia also demonstrated this past week.

Asian nations need to beware inconsistent views in the industry as well to safeguard not just their citizens, but also their budding manufacturing sector’s reputation.

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, has stepped out of an industry-wide accord to address the Bangladesh factory collapse, which recorded over 1,100 deaths. The US retail giant instead wishes to hold its own safety inspections, joining several other major retailers in opting out of any attempt of unity.

The crushing truth is that over 70 per cent of Myanmar’s citizens still subsist from the agriculture sector, and any opportunities to be associated with enticing foreign brands will hook in farmers from across the plains and down the mountains. Indonesia, the Philippines and Cambodia are also in this boat.

Myanmar needs to wisen up, and quickly. Events happening around it will be instructive, not the retailers conducting inspections only because they are pressured to.

 

 

 

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