Sheffield Chamber of Commerce is to lend its expertise to help the Burmese textile industry get up and running following the recent democratic elections.
The Chamber has joined an international partnership to help support budding businesses in Burma.
The project, one of the first global economic partnerships with Burma for many years following the elections, will help the Burmese garment and textile industry to become an international exporter.
Sheffield Chamber is the only UK partner to join the £2m Switch Asia scheme, part of a European Union funded project.
The aim is to help small and medium-sized firms in Burma to establish the capacity and structure to develop new business. Sheffield Chamber will also be on the look-out for business opportunities for Sheffield companies.
The scheme, which starts next month, is expected to run for three years. Sheffield Chamber will provide support to the Chambers of Commerce in Burma and to businesses directly.
Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said: “The principle aim of the Switch Asia business support programme is to allow Burma to compete with India, Cambodia and Vietnam within the textiles industry.
“Businesses must first meet certain criteria to sell goods abroad, including meeting health and safety requirements, suitable working practices and implementing good practice in environmental issues, such as waste management and energy saving.
“We have got involved because of the contacts we are making to support our export growth across a number of sectors, but also because we can use this to get contacts and business for a number of our members.
“Asia is one of the regions predicted to deliver significant growth over the next few years and they will want to buy products that we make here in the Sheffield City Region. Lots of other European countries seem to be there so it’s time we went and got a bit of the action.”
Sheffield Chamber will provide training support for individuals who will then train business support organisations and company workforces.
It will also provide support and guidance to help businesses exploit new trade opportunities within the EU and America.
Burma’s military forces stepped down two years ago, transforming the country from an authoritarian state into a democracy after 50 years of military control.
The elections saw the release of long-time dissident, Aung San Suu Kyi. Burma is one of Asia’s poorest countries.