British retailer Marks & Spencer has said it will stop sourcing from Myanmar over concerns of human rights abuses in the country.
The company said it is working towards a “responsible exit” from the country, and plans to have completely exited by March 2023.
“At Marks & Spencer, ethical trading is core to the way we do business,” the retailer said. “We have continued to monitor the market closely in Myanmar, through our partnership with the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), as well as on-the-ground audit process.”
In September, the ETI urged fashion retailers to reconsider their connections with suppliers in Myanmar, a country which has been under political turmoil since its army’s coup against the government in February 2021.
A report commissioned by ETI said there was “evidence of forced labour and exploitation at a sector level”, with workers also “unable to exercise their right to freedom” in alignment with international labour standards, among other alleged violations.
Marks & Spencer said that in light of the findings of the report, “it is impossible for our Global Sourcing Principles to be upheld” in Myanmar.
It 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.”
The retailer said it will continue to work with relevant stakeholders including the ETI over the coming six months to ensure its suppliers “adhere to national laws and human rights are upheld”.
It is also looking at what additional measures can be put in place “to mitigate the effects of the decision on the individual workers in Myanmar”.
Marks & Spencer’s decision comes after fast fashion giant Primark announced in September it would stop sourcing in Myanmar following the same report.