Small and medium weaving businesses are facing difficulty to continue their trade amid rising prices of raw materials and the decline in sales of their products, said some weaving business owners in Amarapura township in Mandalay Region.
The prices of raw materials such as silk yarn, has increased sharply compared to the cotton price, and that is why the silk weaving business has almost stopped, said Ko Thae Ko Ko, a businessman in Pangyi village tract in Amarapura.
“Silk thread price has increased up to about K160,000 (US$117.50) per pack, and it was about K80,000 per pack three years ago. Cotton thread price has increased to about K47,000 per pack, and it was about K42,000 per pack before.
“Lowering the selling prices of finished products also affected the weaving businesses. There is no problem if businesspersons can store finished products in this difficult situation; however, there is problem for those who have to run their businesses with the money they earn from selling the finished products,” said Ko Thae Ko Ko.
Small and medium weaving business people said although the prices of raw material have increased, they cannot raise the prices of finished products due to competition from products from other countries such as China and India.
“Weaving machines can produce about seven longyis. If there are 10 machines, nearly 70 longyis can be produced. The number of subsistence scale looms is increasing. Retail merchants cannot take in large amounts as there are plenty of products. We need to wait for them when they tell us to do so. But we have to pay wages for the workers. We are managing our work although the raw material prices are increasing. Now, we are nearly at a standstill in our industry,” said Ko Thae Ko Ko.
Trade has been declining badly for the past six months. Although the raw and finished material prices are unstable, wages are being paid depending on the designs of the textiles, said U Nyunt Wai, owner of a loom in Amarapura township.
“As the number of looms is enormous, some looms cannot resist the market forces. It is very sad as the skilled loom owners have shut down. According to my experience, the market sometimes drops, especially for hand-loomed silk. But it gradually becomes lucrative again. We are keeping our business going and expecting a good market,” said U Nyunt Wai, whose family has been in the weaving business for generations.
Although local looms produce garments that are better quality than Chinese-made garments, the prices cannot be raised too much. Local cotton fabrics weaved by machine cost around K5000 but Chinese-made ones cost only about K2000, said Ko Thae Ko Ko.