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Japanese apparel buyers willing to invest in Myanmar
Aug '10
The Pearl River delta has lost its gleam for foreign producers to some extent, as wages in China continue to rise. However, if Myanmar decides to accelerate the slack, it needs to develop its infrastructure, inform industry sources.

Hideki Arai of Asahi Kasei Trading Company said that, China was the key producing base for textile and cloth manufacturers from Japan. But now, as business conditions in China have deteriorated significantly, a lot of companies are envisaging immense potential in the ASEAN countries, and hence, are planning to relocate elsewhere.

Eitaro Kojima, Managing Director of Japan External Trade Organization's (JETRO) Yangon office, averred that, Japan has a protective free trade agreement with ASEAN nations, the ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership. More so, there are also in place several other mutual agreements that place the nation in an advantageous position to gain as China loses.

U Myint Soe, President, Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA), spoke of the immense availability of labour in the country at comparatively cheaper rates to be potential enticements, which could be utilized to draw investments from Japan. But then, he added that, for this purpose they needed to build on the capacity of their workers, as Japanese markets are extremely conscious with respect to quality checking.

Presently, the volume of clothing exports from Myanmar to Japan are on a higher side than compared to exports from Bangladesh to Japan, said Kojima.

As revealed by the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers' Association's data, country's clothing exports to Japan has been on a rise since five years with US $53 million in 2005, which grew to $71 million in 2006, $96 million in 2007, $133 million in 2008 and $149 million in 2009, said Soe.

However, Kojima maintained that, Bangladesh before long would beat Myanmar as new factories are already taking shape in the country. Also, while Bangladesh churns out fabrics on its own, Myanmar need to import a majority of its basic materials.

He further stated that, as per his beliefs Bangladesh would surpass Myanmar as regards exporting to Japan, for another reason and that is, the comparatively higher number of Japanese factories rooted in Bangladesh.

More over, Kojima averred that, although he is unsure of the number of new Japanese-funded factories, which are on their way to Bangladesh. But he is sure that, other than merely orders, there are no new factories planned for Mayanmar.

Soe added that, if private firms can develop new lines and provide apparels of a certain quality, then Mayanmar is likely to receive more opportunities. Currently, there are merely four Japanese-owned firms in Mayanmar, with an additional number of 20 or so firms working towards supplying the Japanese market.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk - India

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