Today the EU monitoring mission arrives in Myanmar to investigate whether GSP should be withdrawn. WRITER by: LARRY JAGAN


This would be catastrophic: Causing unemployment of anything upwards of 500,000; mass exodus of young women across the border looking for work and all the dangers trafficking entails. A loss of 2 billion in dollars in exports worsening trade deficit and putting further pressure on the Myanmar currency.

In today’s Bangkok Post for good measure, with more detailed analysis.

“The EU only restored Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) status for this sector in Myanmar in 2013, 16 years after suspending it to punish the previous military regime. The textile and footwear industry has grown by leaps and bounds in the past five years as a result.

“If the EU removes GSP, more than half the workforce employed in the garment sector are at risk of losing their jobs,” Khine Khine Nwe, secretary-general of the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association, told Asia Focus. More than 90% of them are young, unskilled women, with no alternative employment prospects.

“Chinese factories employ around 300,000 people,” she said. These Chinese investors were attracted to Myanmar because of the country’s easy access to the European market under GSP. If that is withdrawn, they will certainly pull out and relocate elsewhere, probably to Thailand or Vietnam, she predicted.

This would be tragic, she said, because these women sustain their families — on average five people: a spouse and at least three children. More than a million people would suffer directly as a result, she estimated.

“A slowdown in Myanmar’s emerging garment industry would also dramatically affect the textile supply chain — such as thread and buttons — and the supporting industries — embroidery, printing, production of polyester bags and cartons — that are important for the textile and garment industry,” Myint Soe, chairman of the garment manufacturers’ association, told Asia Focus.

Kristian Schmidt, the EU ambassador to Myanmar, elaborated on the plans for the visit of the monitoring mission this week.

“The mission will assess the country’s progress in respecting the core conditions on which the trade privileges are granted, including respect for human rights, and be informed by the reality on the ground,” he told Asia Focus.”