The garment industry has been growing rapidly in the past two years on increased orders from Japan and South Korea, a spokesperson for the key industry body said last week.
U Aung Win, vice president of the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association, said the value of orders from Japan more than doubled between 2010 and 2011, to US$350 million from $170 million. Orders from South Korea increased to $240 million in 2011 from $120 million in 2010.
He added that the statistics for 2012 are still being collected but was confident export earnings would at least match the results from 2011.
“Garment industry export earnings are rising, which we predict will lead to an increase in the number of factories,” he said. “We are providing training at Myanmar Garment Human Resource Development Centre (MGHRDC) in Yangon. But most factories are located in Yangon and the labour density is too high already.
“We need more garment factories, and it would be better for new factories to be installed in other states and regions to reduce the labour density in Yangon,” he told The Myanmar Times.
“We are planning to build about 50 garment factories in Pathein township in Ayeyarwady Region. The first, which will be operated by Delta Industrial Group (DIG), will open in May,” he said.
He added that MGHRDC is training potential DIG employees.
Trainee Ma Zar Zar Hlaing said: “DIG called for employees early last year and started doing interviews in May. I am doing supervisory training here and will then work at the factory in Pathein.
“Only graduates can apply for supervisor positions,” she said, adding that MGHRDC arranged accommodation and food during the training in Yangon. It also paid trainees K1000 a day to cover other costs.
Mr Hiroyasu Asai, an MGHRDC trainer, said the centre had trained more than 1000 garment workers since it started in 2009.
“We have trained 700 operators, 500 supervisors and 30 maintenance staff. We will change our training to meet the demand for skilled labour at future garment factories,” he said.
U Aung Win said the future is bright for the industry.
“We anticipate that there will be more than 700 new factories in 2015 that will employ more than 100,000 people,” he said.
“The main challenge for investors is high land prices in Yangon, which is why we believe that companies will look to other states and regions to build factories, particularly since 90 percent of the people who work in Yangon’s factories come from elsewhere,” he said, adding that 90-95pc of all factories are in Yangon Region.
He added that the main advantage of setting up factories in Yangon is transportation because it has the ports able to handle imports and exports.