Myanmar’s forecasted economic growth for 2016
Source: World Bank
Myanmar exported USD 1.56 billion worth of garment products in 2014, representing a near doubling of production in just two years, and the figure is expected to approach USD 2 billion in 2015, according to the Manufacturers’ Association.
“We definitely need a direct service, and went with MCC because they committed to what we needed,” says Dorothy Tao, Global Shipping Manager for Taiwanese garment manufacturer Gen International, which makes clothing for casual fashion lines such as Kirbi, Primark and H&M. “We expect this business to grow with the opening up of Myanmar’s economy.”
After decades of political and economic isolation, human rights have been at the forefront of discussions for foreign investors. Before entering the country, the Maersk Group partnered with NGOs, local companies and diplomats to mitigate risks with suppliers and thereby help customers to do the same.
There is often little awareness of issues such as health and safety, the environment and labour rights in emerging markets. Approaches such as more customer audits and questionnaires to prove commitment and an increasing focus on compliance regarding anti-corruption and facilitation payments can help.
“An important part of the entry strategy has been to assert the importance of responsible conduct in our operations, and educate and train selected suppliers in internationally recognised responsible business practices,” says Renata Frolova, Head of Responsible Procurement.
After sanctions were lifted, a business plan was developed for the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business, which was supported by a range of governments participating at a meeting held in the United Nations in December 2012.
It was developed together with the Danish Institute for Human Rights and the Institute for Human Rights and Business so that all businesses and customers can lean on it. The centre aims to give investors the background they need and help local institutions and companies to use established best practice.
Using practical examples and a self-assessment to see which processes were already in place, a training workshop for local trucking, warehousing, terminal and service suppliers in Myanmar introduced them to why responsible business is important to the Maersk Group.
“Maersk was essential in helping us access Myanmar at a time when it was very hard for human rights organisations to get visas into the country,” says John Morrison, Executive Director at the Institute for Human Rights and Business. “With Maersk, we were able to have our first roundtables in Yangon and visits to Naypyidaw, and to start a dialogue with government ministers and a range of local businesses.”