Local and international policymakers, industry experts, business and civil society representatives gathered recently in Yangon at the launch of a regional roundtable on the sustainable development of Asia’s garment and textile industry.
The two-day event was organised by the EU-funded Switch-Asia Programme in association with ILO.
Switch-Asia Programme, which promotes sustainable consumption and production across Asia through demonstration projects, chose Myanmar as a location for this first-time roundtable as increased international attention is being paid to the garment industry in the country.
“The garment sector presents numerous economic opportunities for the region, especially for the most vulnerable countries, as it can create jobs and increase living standards of people on a wide scale. But it should develop in accordance with fundamental social and environmental standards,” EU Ambassador to Myanmar Roland Kobia said.
He added that on the occasion of the European Year for Development 2015, the EU has taken up a role in designing a garment flagship initiative on responsible management of the supply chain in this sector.
“The Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association has been working with SMART Myanmar, a Switch-Asia project, for about two years, promoting a stronger garment industry. They have helped us learn more about social compliance standards, factory safety and ways to use more efficient and sustainable production to grow successful businesses,” Myint Soe, chairman of the association, said.
Michal Strahilevitz-Ben Eliezer, ILO’s Chief Technical Advisor – Responsible Business, said the garment industry offers a great opportunity for economic growth along with large scale employment generation.
“As a latecomer, Myanmar has the opportunity to learn from other countries’ industry experiences, which offer different models of growth, which may support the development of a local responsible and sustainable industry.”
Uwe Weber, team leader of the Switch-Asia Network Facility, said, “In particular, the new and growing Myanmar garment industry can draw lessons from other countries in the region towards a faster and more sustainable development.“