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Thai garment exporters eye Myanmar market


BANGKOK AT LEAST six of Thailand’s leading garment manufacturers have plans to invest in Myanmar this year, news reports said on Saturday.

“The election on April 1 will show that Burma will not move backwards,” Vallop Vitanakorn, an advisor to the Thai Garment Manufacturers Association, told The Nation newspaper.

Myanmar, also called Burma, will hold a by-election to fill 48 parliament seats left vacant when the current cabinet took office.

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy are contesting the polls, deemed an important benchmark for Myanmar’s political reforms.

Vallop predicted that six of Thailand’s top garment manufacturers will open factories in Myanmar in the second half of 2012, to take advantage of the neighbouring country’s low labour costs, about one-third that of Thailand’s.

The Thai government plans to increase minimum wage by 40 percent on April 1, in keeping with the campaign promises of the Pheu Thai Party that won the July 3, general election.

Rising labour costs and labour shortages have already prompted Thai garment manufacturers to shift their factories to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam where they have invested more than 200 million dollars in recent years.

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