The new phase of the European Union’s SMART Textile and Garments project will bring together brands, trade unions and business associations to boost social and environmental sustainability in Myanmar’s garment industry. The project, funded by the EU, was officially launched in Myanmar recently. The SMART Textile and Garments project will work with more than hundred garment and textile factories in Yangon, Mandalay, Bago, Pathein and other regions.
The project, which will feature the involvement of local and European experts, will deliver on-site assessment and training on topics such as human resource management systems and workplace communications, occupational safety and health, chemicals and waste management, and energy efficiency.
“The European Union’s unwavering commitment and support plays an important role in improving decent work conditions and responsible business practices in Myanmar,” said Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population Permanent Secretary U Myo Aung during the launch of the project.
“The project’s aim to is to further strengthen sustainable production practices and responsible supply chains in Myanmar and Europe,” said Jacob A. Clere, Team Leader of SMART Myanmar. The SMART Myanmar project has been working with garment factories since 2013 to promote sustainable consumption and production (SCP) of garments bearing the label “Made in Myanmar” – a concept with emphasis on resource efficiency and social responsibility. SMART Textiles and Garments builds on SMART Myanmar and will expand training and capacity building programmes for social and environmental performance to more than hundred garment and textile factories in different locations across the country.
SMART Myanmar has proven to be an extremely relevant programme in accompanying Myanmar’s apparel industry’s shift to more sustainable practices, said Pedro Campo Llopis, Deputy Head of Development Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Myanmar.
“Europe is one of the world’s largest consumer markets and European consumers pay a lot of attention to where the products they buy come from and how they are produced. Sustainable production and respect for international labour standards are therefore important topics in the EU’s trade relations with Myanmar and this makes our cooperation with the Myanmar garment sector through the SMART Textiles and Garments programme so important,” Campo Llopis added.
Several international retailers including H&M, Bestseller and C&A, have agreed to support the new programme to boost performance within their Myanmar-based supply chains. In fiscal year 2018-19, Myanmar-made garments were among the largest export categories in the country, with over $4 bn worth of garments exported, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
Since 2013, Myanmar’s garment sector has shown staggering export oriented growth. The garment industry serves largely the European market and has created job opportunities for thousands, mostly women.