【日時】 March 8, 2018, 15:00-18:00
【場所】Faculty of International Politics and Economics, Aoyama Gakuin
University, Building No.8, 4th floor, Seminar room
“Growth of Myanmar Garment Industry in the 2010s: Focusing on Relocation
of Apparel Production from Thailand”
By Atsuko Mizuno (Kyusyu University)
“New Dynamics of Bangladesh’s Apparels Enterprises in Post-Rana Plaza
Period: Reflections from an Enterprise Level Survey”
By K.G. Moazzem (Center for Policy Dialogue, Bangladesh)
10 minutes break
1) Tatsufumi Yamagata (IDE)
2) Akihiko Ohno (Aoyama Gakuin University)
17:10-18:00 General discussions
1. Dr. A. Mizuno’s paper
Myanmar increased its apparel exports from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, but declined after US imposed an import ban on all its products in 2003. Thereafter, Myanmar garment industry stagnated until the end of 2000s. A large number of Myanmar workers migrated and worked in Thailand apparel industry. Previous study has shown that the garment firms, which were late in upgrading were likely to hire foreign workers during the period of structural adjustment. Unskilled migrant workers have provided Thailand breathing space to upgrade the industry by allowing the country to continue with labor-intensive production. However, Thailand’s apparel exports reached a peak in the latter half of the 2000s, and then began to show a downward trend. Meanwhile, apparel exports from Myanmar began to increase in 2010, and have continued growing since the power transfer to the new government in 2011. Production reallocation in East Asia region, has been the main factor of this increase whereby labor-intensive production is shifted to lower-income countries. Additionally, preferential tariff treatment for Least Developed Countries have influenced the reallocation of apparel production. Higher production costs and labor shortages forced the garment manufacturers in Thailand to implement industrial upgrading, and move some production to the neighboring lower-income countries, including Myanmar, in order to stay competitive and even achieve some growth. Thus, the apparel production has been relocated from Thailand to Myanmar despite the continuing labor migration from Myanmar to Thailand in the 2010s.
The study reveals that Myanmar’s apparel exports have been highly concentrated in a few major markets, namely Japan, EU and Korea, along with the rapid increase of apparel export, while Thailand has diversified its export markets despite the decrease in apparel exports. Myanmar’s apparel exports are also highly concentrated in respectively narrower range of and lower value-added products than Thailand’s apparel exports. Additionally, garment industry in Myanmar handles CMP (Cutting, Making and Packing) and has very weak domestic upstream and downstream sectors. In contrast, Thailand apparel industry has developed a comprehensive and totally integrated production and supply chain cycle.
Therefore, the reallocation of apparel production between Myanmar and Thailand has not only provided momentum to the growth of Myanmar garment industry, but has also evolved production networks, horizontal specialization and vertical integration between them. The continuous flow of labor migration from Myanmar to Thailand has been giving an interactive impact on reallocation of apparel production between the two countries.
2. Dr. K.G. Moazzem’s paper
With the tragic industrial accident in Rana Plaza in 2013, Bangladesh’s apparels enterprises have exposed to multiple weaknesses and challenges. More importantly, such accident put adverse effect on competitiveness and sustainability of apparels enterprises. Because of various initiatives undertaken over the last five years, apparels enterprises
have experienced with diverse level of upgrading with regard to economic, social and gender related issues. This is found through an in-depth study being carried out by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD),a think tank based in Bangladesh. The CPD has carried out a baseline survey over 200 apparels enterprises during March, 2017-December, 2017 with a view to explore the level of upgrading of these apparel enterprises during post-Rana Plaza period as well as to examine their level of competitiveness and sustainability under the ongoing restructuring, remediation and compliance assurance initiatives through various national and international arrangements and agreements.
The study reveals that due to special focus on social compliances under the ongoing initiatives, apparels enterprises have experienced positive changes on decent works particularly on workplace safety and workers’ wages. However, such changes did not take place in case of economic upgrading particularly with regard to process, product and functional upgrading. Besides long term sustainability issues of apparels enterprises such as gender related issues have not yet got due attention. Hence, the upgrading in the sector may not be considered balanced in all counts which may affect enterprise level competitiveness and sustainability of a large section.
The study has conducted the baseline survey to collect data of RMG enterprises with regard to management, production and marketing, human resources, remediation of enterprises, cost and return and worker related issues. Besides, the study collected data under high frequency data survey (HFDS) to measure both line and worker level efficiency of selected enterprises. Based on the collected data, the study measures the level of upgrading of each of the sample enterprises under three pillars – social, economic and gender embedded upgrading. Unlike the social upgrading, the progress in economic upgrading of sample enterprises was found to be quite diverse and most importantly did not keep pace with that of social upgrading in a large section of enterprises. In other words, the benefit of social upgrading is most likely not to be ensured by a section of enterprises because of slow progress in terms of productivity and efficiency, weak management and less diversity in product baskets etc. The gender-embedded upgrading
which is considered to be a major indicator for sustainability, has yet to take due cognizance by the entrepreneurs.
Overall, the effort to upgrade Bangladesh’s apparels enterprises through the ongoing initiatives may turn to be one-sided and less balanced. Under such circumstances, a section of enterprises would confront pressure on their return owing to additional compliance related investment and costs. Given the lack of investment in technology,
products, processes and management, a part of these enterprises may find it difficult to ensure their level of efficiency which would affect their competitiveness. Taking into cognizance of these changes, Bangladesh’s apparels sector need to ensure balanced upgrading with regard to social, economic and gender related issues by ensuring adequate investment on technology, product and functional issues as well as on gender related issues.