Myanmar’s Textile Industry Gets Boost From EU Project
Dec 11, 2019

A new phase of the European Union’s SMART Myanmar project, called SMART Textiles & Garments, will bring together brands including H&M, Bestseller and C&A, trade unions and business associations to boost social and environmental sustainability in Myanmar’s garment industry.

The project, funded by the EU, was officially launched in Myanmar on December 6. It will cover with more than hundred garment and textile factories in Yangon, Mandalay, Bago, Pathein and other regions. European and domestic experts will provide on-site assessment and training on topics such as human resource management systems and workplace communications, occupational safety and health, chemicals and waste management and energy efficiency.

“The project’s aim to is to further strengthen sustainable production practices and responsible supply chains in Myanmar and Europe,” said Jacob Clere, team leader of SMART Myanmar.

The SMART Myanmar project has been working with garment factories since 2013 to promote sustainable consumption and production of garments bearing the label “Made in Myanmar,” a concept with emphasis on resource efficiency and social responsibility. SMART Textiles and Garments builds on SMART Myanmar and will expand training and capacity building programmes for social and environmental performance to more than hundred garment and textile factories in different locations across the country.

Move to more sustainable practices in garment production

SMART Myanmar has proven to be an extremely relevant programme for Myanmar’s apparel industry and its shift to more sustainable practices, according to Pedro Campo Llopis, deputy head of development cooperation of the EU Delegation to Myanmar.

“Europe is one of the world’s largest consumer markets and European consumers pay a lot of attention to where the products they buy come from and how they are produced. Sustainable production and respect for international labour standards are therefore important topics in the EU’s trade relations with Myanmar and this makes our cooperation with the Myanmar garment sector through the SMART Textiles and Garments programme so important,” Campo Llopis said.

In the country’s fiscal year 2018-19, Myanmar-made garments were among the largest export categories, with over $4 billion worth of garments exported, according to Myanmar’s Ministry of Commerce. Myanmar’s garment industry serves largely the European market and has created job opportunities for thousands, mostly women.

The project launch comes in the same month as the EU is about to reassess its preferential trade framework with Cambodia over human rights concerns, which would badly hit the country’s garment industry.