MYANMAR’S clothing sector is expected to grow faster as a result of the country's readmission to a preferential EU trading scheme, according to sources in industry.

The European Union readmitted Myanmar to its trade preference scheme on June 12 which grants developing nations preferential access to the 27-nation bloc for several products in the form of lower tariffs.

"This is a great chance for us, but it is also a challenge. The businessmen here are not familiar with it. Especially we need to look at the quality of our products to export. Some of them didn't care about quality for a long time. We should care about it more now because our products must meet the EU standards," said Dr Aung Tun Thet, a local economist.

The EU agreed in April to lift all sanctions on Myanmar except on arms trade, economic and individual sanctions, and says it wants to support economic reforms in the country. Experts estimate that the clothing industry could employ up to two million people provided the minimum wage remains unchanged.

"Before, the local garment factories worked for eight or nine months a year and then stopped their operations for three months. Sometimes they got orders and sometimes no orders. Thanks to the GSP, they hope they will operate for the whole year," said Dr Maung Maung, the managing director from Letwa Garment Factory.

From January to March this year, the country collected over $300 million in revenue from garment exports, nearly double up from the last year, according to figures from Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association.

Myanmar's seafood exports are also expected to rise this year as the EU is implementing a plan to import farmed seafood products. — By arrangement with Daily Eleven/ANN

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