Twelve delegates from Myanmar government ministries, associations and business went off to Germany on the last week of March for a study mission on promoting sustainability and increasing productivity among the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the garments industry.
The initiative is part of SMART Myanmar, a project funded by the European Union (EU) to promote the sustainable production of garments made by SMEs in Myanmar, and implemented by the Confederation of the German Textile and Fashion Industry, project partner.
EU Ambassador to Myanmar Roland Kobia said: “We are happy to see that EU projects are building capacity and supporting stronger economic and trade relationships between Myanmar and the EU.
“Responsible investment practices are key to ensure that this combination turns into a lasting success for businesses, but also for the poorer and the marginalised. I am sure that this mission will be a good source of inspiration for Myanmar companies and institutions.”
Khine Khine Nwe of Myanmar Garments Manufacturers Association (MGMA) said: “The study mission is timely as consumer demand for more socially and environmentally sustainable products is increasing, especially among developed markets such as the EU.”
She said the growing trend is particularly apparent in the consumer goods industry, in which the garment industry contributes significantly.
“The issue of sustainability is thus gaining priority in the development of policies, as well as business strategies, for both public and private sectors.”
Juliane Schroeder, consultant at Confederation of the German Textile and Fashion Industry, said: “Being the organizer of this study mission to Germany, we are very happy to share with the delegates best practices of the implementation of social responsibility and environmental sustainability in the public and private sector in Germany and Europe. As partner to the project, we believe that long- lasting relationships with responsible business partners will have positive effects for both sides.”
Simone Lehmann, project manager of Sequa, said through the three-year SMART Myanmar project, the EU, along with its partners, aim to help Myanmar’s garments industry enter the European markets.
“SMART Myanmar targets to showcase the best sustainable consumption and production (SCP) practices of 10 to 15 Myanmar garments manufacturers in Europe in 2015.”
SMART, or SMEs for Environmental, Accountability, Responsibility and Transparency, is part of the EU Switch Asia Program designed to promote the adoption of Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) among Small and Medium sized Enterprises and consumer groups in Asia.
The EU-funded project will run until December 2015, and primarily fosters to increase the competitiveness of SMEs in Myanmar, especially in the Garment Sector, by promoting sustainable production of garments “made in Myanmar.”