Discussion Papers

No.430 Myanmar’s Apparel Industry in the New International Environment: Prospects and Challenges

by KUDO Toshihiro

September 2013


Myanmar’s apparel industry had long been denied access to Western markets due to sanctions against its military government. The birth of a “civilian” government in March 2011 improved Myanmar’s relations with the international community, and Western sanctions were largely lifted. Regained market access is expected to trigger rapid growth of Myanmar’s apparel exports. This paper examines this impact with a comparison to Vietnam’s apparel industry.
The industry’s prospects are getting bright, but the business environment has recently changed drastically in Myanmar. A new challenge for Myanmar’s apparel industry is remaining globally competitive. This paper also examines advantages and disadvantages that apparel firms in Myanmar experience. Although its abundance of low-wage workers remains a source of competitiveness, Myanmar needs its government to play a more active role to build the foundation of the industry.

Keywords: Myanmar (Burma), apparel, international market, export, sanctions, economic growth
JEL classification: F14, J39, L67

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