Fast fashion retailer Primark has announced that, in light of the unfolding situation in Myanmar, which is currently under military regime after a coup last year, it will be making a “responsible exit” from the country.
Its decision follows the Ethical Trade Initiative’s (ETI) independent assessment of human rights and responsible business conduct in the region, which it outlined in a recently published report.
According to the ETI, its typical business standards are currently not being met by Myanmar’s garment sector, which is in turn impacting businesses’ abilities to carry out normal human rights due diligence.
In its report, the organisation ultimately concluded there was “evidence of forced labour” in the sector and urged fashion retailers to cut ties with their Myanmar-based suppliers.
Primark expressed its concern over the situation and noted that, prior to the report, it was leveraging its ethical audit programme and partnerships in the region to monitor its presence in the country. However, it decided to base future decisions on ETI’s assessment.
In a release, the retailer said: “As a responsible business, our first priority is the safety and wellbeing of the people who make our clothes and products. We are also conscious of the workers whose livelihoods rely on employment at our suppliers’ factories.”
The brand said its “only option” was to begin working towards an exit from the country, which it will carry out in collaboration with partners and stakeholders in Myanmar.
It added that it is currently looking into further measures to be put in place to support workers in its supplier factories as it proceeds.