Sunday, 26 January 2020

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Yesterday once more for EU-Myanmar trade ties?

Mzinecover-newAung Win, a garment export businessman, says he’s a bit north of 50 in terms of years but doesn’t feel it at all. An old flame has returned to his side and it’s like the years have been peeled away. The only reason to note this highly personal detail is that that, metaphorically, it’s happening in his business life as well. The Europeans are back.

He’s reached an agreement (discussions began last year) with a Dutch buyer recently and now his factory is geared up to output a 10,000-item order for that partner, in time for the winter season.

The entrepreneur has been in the garment export business since 1996. His factory in Mingaladon was fully owned and Aung Win gained significant experience in the export market by shipping garment/textile items to European countries, especially to Spain between 2000 and 2008.

The garment trade in Myanmar grew steadily after 1990, encouraging businesspeople to set up shop. However, in 2004 the emerging manufacturing sector was dealt a big blow when the U.S. – the market for some 25 percent Myanmar’s garment exports – put sanctions in place. The EU had in place a 12 percent duty on garments made in Myanmar. The U.S. has removed or suspended most of its sanctions regime and the EU has gone further in dropping the whole lot – arms excepted – and the 12 percent duty has been removed.

SME2Aung Win says he saw his Spanish orders dwindle somewhat, particularly after 2008, but the looms kept running as newer customers from Japan placed orders. The Japanese, for whom quality is very important, could be very picky. However, the ability to please Japanese customers is not lost on other potential buyers who think that if something is good enough to retail in Osaka, then it’s good enough for most elsewhere. Thus, he still gets orders from Spain and has brought the Dutch on board.

What does the businessman see in the coming months and years as far as the garment export market goes? “I cannot predict which market [the EU or Asia] will be mostly exported to in the future,” he offers. “Currently, most garment factories are mainly exporting CMP (cutting, making, packaging) products to the Asian market.” The main destinations for finished clothing and textiles products are Japan, Korea and sometimes China.

Manufacturers will have to ensure quality he says. Previously what was sent to Europe had the volume but lacked a bit of quality. Local businesses need also ensure a commitment to meeting deadlines and they have to take the initiative in networking and scouting out new international markets.

It’s also more than simply keeping the machines humming and the fully loaded trucks heading to port. Businesses need good employees and keeping skilled workers is a must. Failure to do that means the best employees will go elsewhere and those specifications and deadlines will become harder to meet.

For full article, get the May 30 edition of Mizzima Business Weekly (M-Zine+)

Mizzima Business Weekly (M-Zine+) is available in print in Yangon through Innwa Bookstore; at hotels, airlines and restaurants; and, also through online subscription at

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