Myanmar’s garment factories are facing the risk of shutdown as the coronavirus in outbreak China has restricted import of essential raw materials, according to the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA). Representatives from the country’s commerce ministry and MGMA met early this week to address the issue, but no solution could be found.

The country’s garment industry imports up to nine-tenths of raw materials from China and the rest from Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and South Korea.

Many Chinese garment raw material suppliers for Myanmar’s factories are struggling to function properly, according to a report in a Myanmarese newspaper.

Most apparel units have stopped running overtime due to dwindling stocks. Normally, clothing factories run 10 hours on week days, including two hours of overtime, as well as overtime on weekends. But many factories are closing on weekends and not running overtime on week days, the report said.

MGMA’s U Khin Maung Oo said factories that still have stocks will not survive till March and those that have run out of stocks will have to close.

The Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM) estimates that more than 500,000 people work in the apparel sector in the Yangon region, with nearly 300,000 employed in 500 to 600 garment factories in Hlaing Tharyar town alone. Of the 29 industrial zones in Yangon, Hlaing Tharyar compound is the biggest in terms of size, workforce and garment factories.