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Myanmar: National Export Strategy Expected to Boost Textile Sector

Myanmar made another move to boost trade abroad with the launch of its first ever national export strategy, a five-year plan designed to push the country toward “sustainable export-led growth and prosperity.”

The burgeoning nation wants to expand its overall exports, diversify its products and trade with more markets. But according to the Myanmar Times, the country must first face its “low-value added, low productivity and low quality” economy, as executive director of the International Trade Centre (ITC) Arancha Gonzalez puts it. And the new strategy is expected to improve on those issues.

Speaking at the National Export Strategy’s launch event last week, Gonzalez said Myanmar wants to use trade to generate more inclusive growth, more sustainable development and more decent jobs. The export strategy was drafted by Myanmar’s Ministry of Commerce with aid from the public and private sectors.

Myanmar’s current GDP per capita, according to the Myanmar Times, is $910 and Gonzales said the number could triple by 2030. The country’s trade volume has increased substantially in recent years, but according to Commerce Minister U Win Myint, it hasn’t reached full potential.

From January 2014 to January 2015, Myanmar’s total apparel exports to the U.S. increased nearly 300 percent to 2.25 million. But 40 percent of Myanmar’s exports go solely to neighboring Thailand, though the export strategy is expected to diversify the country’s trade.

The National Export Strategy will focus on textiles and garments, rubber, rice, beans, pulses and oilseeds, fisheries, forestry products, tourism and four “cross-sector functions” including: access to finance, quality management, trade facilitation and logistics, and trade information and promotion.

The plan only just moved into implementation phase at last week’s launch, and according to Gonzalez, “The important thing now is to transform it into action on the ground … [as] part of the transformation of the economy of Myanmar, a transformation that we see needs to happen for the benefit of the people,” Myanmar Times reported.