US Retailer Gap Plan Historical Moment in Burma
Regimes in Burma have meant that no American retailer has ever entered the country. The question is why has it taken so long for such a retailer to enter Burma? Burma’s political and economic systems have meant it has just been too difficult to do so. Burma has endured a 50 year military dictatorship with accompanying economic sanctions for western countries which only ended in 2011 when Burma became a democracy.
A message from Gap vice president Wilma Wallace for what Gap will bring to Burma reads, “By entering Myanmar, we hope to help accelerate economic and social growth in the country, and build our track record of improving working conditions and building local capacity in garment factories around the world.”
Gap will also be working with the US agency for International Development (USAID), CARE International and its PACE program to focus on the empowerment of its workers, especially women.
How are the women really going to benefit from what Gap will bring to Burma? First of all technical training and life skills education will be provided to women. Burma a developing country in a growth stage, will now, due to Gap, see more native women earning a sustainable income for the first time in their lives.
For GAP entering Burma they will see an established garment industry but as expected in an LEDC country like Burma restrictions such as poor infrastructure, electricity shortages have hampered the successful running of the industry. Gap although having training expenses will experience cheap labour in abundance making Burma such an attraction.
Gap has also emphasized their safety contribution in this plan. Dotti Hatcher executive director explains that, “Our social investments in Myanmar range from working with local and international NGOs and trade unions to make sure that our vendors provide their employees with a safe, healthy and fair workplace to focusing on the advancement, both personally and professionally, of women throughout Myanmar.”