For most of 2012, representatives of the textile and garment industry have discussed the potential of Myanmar as a new source for apparel as the country undergoes political opening and transformation. Discussion is now heating up among members of the Source ASEAN Full Service Alliance (SAFSA) since the United States waived its ban on all kinds of imports from that country under the “Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act.”
SAFSA is seeking to increase the number of ASEAN factories in the program, but members must meet stringent standards for service capability and social compliance. Led by the ASEAN Federation of Textile Industries (AFTEX), SAFSA has engaged the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) to determine prospects for offering membership to factories. The apparel industry of Myanmar could also benefit from the ASEAN Common Competency Program, which helps workers obtain skill accreditation and factories demonstrate their commitment to workforce development.
The competency program was developed by AFTEX and the USAID-funded VALUE Project managed by Nathan Associates. SAFSA is a major achievement of the Value Project. Formally established in early 2010, SAFSA helps members who meet exacting standards form “virtual vertical factories” that can meet the demands of international buyers by combining the services of multiple mills and factories.