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Myanmar garment exports hit $2.2bn in H1

Myanmar reaped earnings of US$2.2bn from garment exports during the first six months of its financial year, new figures show.

In the period April to September 2018, exports from garment factories that operate under the Cut-Make-Pack (CMP) system increased by $1bn compared to the same period last year, according to Government newspaper Global New Light of Myanmar, published by the Ministry of Information.

"The garment sector is one of the prioritised sectors that drives increasing exports," the publication noted. "The CMP garment industry has emerged as a very promising one with preferential trade from western countries."

In its last fiscal year, 2017/18, the country was estimated to have earned around $2.5bn from CMP garment exports. This is a near three-fold increase on exports of $850m in the 2015/16 fiscal year.

The European Union is understood to have doubled its order for Myanmar's CMP garments this year, with the order estimated at around $180m.

Myanmar's garment exports are primarily exported to Japanese and European markets, as well as South Korea, China, and the US. The industry operates around 400 garment factories, employing more than 300,000 workers.

The majority of Myanmar's garment factories operate under the CMP system, while those engaged in the industry are striving to transform CMP into the Free on Board (FoB) system, according to the Commerce Ministry.

According to an overview of Myanmar on re:source by just-style, the new online strategic planning tool from the team behind the publication, while a process of reform has been underway in the country since 2011, many international apparel brands and retailers are taking a cautious approach when it comes to extending their supply chains into the region.

Myanmar's isolation from world trade for more than a decade means it is now playing catch-up in key areas ranging from compliance and sustainability, to infrastructure and energy. The country's financial institutions are still in their infancy, and there is a need for more training resources to help bridge the industry's skills gap. That said, garment exports tripled from 2012 to 2017, and the introduction of a Code of Conduct for MGMA member companies and the country's first minimum wage are helping position it as a safe and ethical supplier.

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