According to information released by the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA), the primary impediments to the growth of Myanmar’s garment manufacturing industry include a lack of skilled workers, the persistence of international sanctions, and the distance separating the country from its primary markets.
Of these obstacles, MGMA officials stressed that the lack of skilled workers was the most pressing.
U Myit Soe, President of the MGMA, stated that the quality of garments produced in Myanmar owed to the country’s lack of skilled textile workers. Daw Khaing Khaing Nwe, the MGMA’s General Secretary, implied that the lack of skilled labor resulted from garment workers leaving central Myanmar for better-paying jobs in China and Thailand once they had acquired a high level of skill.
MGMA officials also stated that US economic sanctions against Myanmar were hampering the growth of its garment sector. The US has maintained sanctions against Myanmar since the country came under military rule in the early 1960s. While the country’s recent efforts toward democratization have reopened the possibility of lifting these sanctions, the US is still pushing for the Burmese government to sever all military ties with North Korea before it steps back from its economic punishments.
In addition to labor shortages and international pressures, the MGMA stated that Myanmar’s geographic remove from its primary markets was putting stress on its garment sector. Most of Myanmar’s garment exports are bound for either Japan or South Korea, and the relative distance of these countries from Myanmar puts pressure on Burmese lead times.