Oct 12, 2022
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M&S exits Myanmar manufacturing on human rights worries

Oct 12, 2022

M&S is to end sourcing goods from Myanmar by next March, amid concerns over human rights abuses. The slow withdrawal is to ensure a “responsible exit”, it said, noting “ethical trading is core to the way we do business”.

Official findings under a 'Myanmar Enhanced Due Diligence Sectoral Assessment' showed “it is impossible for our Global Sourcing Principles to be upheld”, M&S said this week. 

The UK retail giant said it has continued to monitor the Myanmar market closely through its partnership with the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), as well as via an on-the-ground audit process.

In a statement, M&S said: “We do not tolerate any human rights abuses within any part of our supply chain and are now working towards a responsible exit from Myanmar, in line with our Responsible Exit Policy, which will see a full exit by March 2023”.

It added: “Over the next six months, we will continue to work closely with relevant stakeholders including the Ethical Trading Initiative throughout the consultation process, to ensure that our suppliers adhere to national laws and human rights are upheld. We are also looking at what additional measures we can put in place to mitigate the effects of the decision on the individual workers in Myanmar.”

Myanmar’s military-run regime has been accused of widespread violations of human rights after seizing complete power in February 2021. Last month, the ETI urged brands and retailers sourcing from Myanmar to review their presence in the country.

The body’s recent report, based on its internationally-recognised ETI base code of labour practices, showed it wasn’t possible for businesses sourcing in Myanmar to apply normal human rights due diligence.

And M&S’s withdrawal looks to be following the ETI code assessment to the letter: “Should companies choose to exit Myanmar they must do so responsibly, and in consultation with social partners. The impact of exiting Myanmar on workers and their families, needs to be a clear focus in this consultation.”

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