As the country’s garment industry prepares to grow with the help of new foreign investment, the local dyeing industry is facing problems.
Shortages of electricity, skilled labour and paint are handicapping the dye industry, some sources say.
“I have plans to enlarge my factories as the garment sector has great expectations, but I still face problems in getting enough electricity, labour and paint for the dyeing process,” said U Kyaw Kyaw last week, owner of A Plus Three Silk Screen Painting in Hlaing township.
Currently, the paint used in the dyeing process is imported from China, Thailand and Japan. Small companies cannot afford to buy the 15-60 kilogram (33- to 132-pound) cans, so they buy 5-pound (about 2.3kg) packets of paint powder instead, he says.
“The paint in the packets is mixed with some kind of powder used in food products. Most of it is made in China,” he said, adding that the fake powder could damage clothing.
He said 80 percent of garments produced needed to be dyed before export or local sale. “Most of our orders are from women who want a flower pattern on a shirt. I try to find quality products so I can get export orders, which are up 25pc compared with the same period last year,” he said.
The price for painting a shirt for the local market is K250, and K200 for an exported shirt. Dyeing a shirt intended for the export market is cheaper because the volume is higher – an export order can be for at least 8000 shirts, while local orders run only to about 1000 or 1500 pieces, he said.
Ko Nyan Sint Aung, a dye factory manager who worked in Malaysia for three years in industrial dyeing, said dyeing in Myanmar was mostly done by hand, but the quality of the work rivalled that of foreign products.
“If the dye is good quality and the workers are skilled, we can get more export contracts,” he said, adding that the electricity supply would also need to be made more reliable to ensure companies could better plan their operations.
However, U Min Naing, the manager of Golden Third Silk Screen Painting factory, said that they had received a contract order from the Japan Garment Factory, for which they were using paint imported from Japan.
“Orders are about 30pc up for this year because we got an order for at least 20,000 shirts for one design. But a local order would be for only 300 to 600 shirts,” he said, adding that there was no trade association through which the industry could negotiate the most competitive prices.
Dyeing companies are not part of the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association, he said.
“We are totally reliant on the garment sector. We hope it will continue to develop so we can get more export orders,” he added.