Danish clothing brand Bestseller poised to resume Myanmar sourcing

Myanmar’s garment industry, already hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, has been further paralyzed by the withdrawal of orders by several international clothing brands. (AFP/Jiji)

According to an independent report commissioned by the Danish clothing brand Bestseller, the company should resume sourcing from Myanmar as the withdrawal of international companies could cause poverty and famine, media Nikkei Asia report.

Following the military coup in Myanmar, Bestseller joined other brands including Swedish H&M in pausing orders in the country. Bestseller’s report by lawyer Jonas Christoffersen, former head of Danish Institute for Human Rights however shows that the company should resume business in the country “as quickly as possible.” 

The report aimed at determining whether Bestseller’s sourcing from three factories within an industrial zone linked to military conglomerate Myanmar Economic Holdings (MEHL) breached European Union sanctions by supporting the junta. According to research, however, the report stated that Bestseller was not found to have a direct or indirect economic relationship with the military.

The report said, “We do not believe that there are reasonable grounds to assume that the three factories are located on plots of land that are owned, directly or indirectly, by the military. Neither do we believe that there are reasonable grounds to assume that the three factories have paid administration fees, directly or indirectly, to the military.”

The report did however state that withdrawing its activities in Myanmar, Bestseller would be a “clear violation” of Bestsellers’ corporate and social responsibility because an exit of international companies would likely cause an economic meltdown in Myanmar.

Dorte Rye Olsen, Bestseller’s sustainability manager stated on Monday that the company would “continue undaunted to establish decent working conditions in Myanmar,” and that the “majority of workers” were back at factories. Dorte Rye Olsen added that the newer EU sanctions made it “doubtful” that new orders would be placed at the three factories in question and Bestseller did not state when exactly the company plans to resume orders at other factories.

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