|Workers iron and arrange clothing at a garment factory at Hlaing Taryar industrial zone in Yangon, March 10, 2010.(Photo by=REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun)|
[Asia News Communication = Reporter Reakkana] Business struggles amid COVID-19 pandemic, but after a Feb 1 coup that sparked mass protests and a deadly crackdown, during which Li Dongliang factory was set on fire amid a surge of anti-Chinese sentiment, orders stopped, Reuters said.
His story is emblematic of the perilous situation facing a sector critical to Myanmar's economy, which accounts for a third of its exports and employs 700,000 low-income workers, according to UN data. Li said he and many of his peers consider moving to other low-cost garment hubs like China, Cambodia or Vietnam, as big fashion brands like H&M and Primark have stopped trading with Myanmar due to the coup.
Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association revealed that Chinese nationals like Li fund nearly a third of Myanmar's 600 garment factories,by far the largest investor group. Around two other Chinese-funded garment factories in Myanmar, employing a combined 3,000 workers, had decided to close, said Khin May Htway, managing partner of MyanWei Consulting Group, which advises Chinese investors in Myanmar. She said the two firms were her clients but declined to identify them citing privacy. Foreign investment in garments surged in Myanmar over the past decade as economic reforms, an end to Western sanctions and trade deals helped establish the sector as the greatest symbol of its nascent emergence as a manufacturing hub.