Reuters confirmed the business move with Serkan Tanka, who is Country Manager Myanmar at H&M.
“Although we refrain from taking any immediate action regarding our long-term presence in the country, we have at this point paused placing new orders with our suppliers,” Tanka wrote to the news outlet via email. “This is due to practical difficulties and an unpredictable situation limiting our ability to operate in the country, including challenges related to manufacturing and infrastructure, raw material imports and transport of finished goods.”
H&M’s Myanmar Branch Office, which is located in the Kyauktada Township of Yangon, works with 45 direct suppliers to make the clothing it sells around the world.
It is not clear how pausing new orders will impact the Myanmarese people who work for these suppliers.
Representatives at H&M did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Before the military coup that took place on Feb. 1, garment factory orders in Myanmar were down by 75% due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to just-style – an apparel and textile industry news website.
In 2020, the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association estimated there were around 600 factories that employed 450,000 garment workers.
The European Union’s SMART Textile & Garments program has launched multiple initiatives to try and improve working conditions in Myanmar’s apparel industry as well as providing support to workers struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic.
Since the start of the military coup, at least 54 protestors have died in clashes with armed forces, according to the BBC.
Protestors are fighting to end the militaristic rule and free Myanmar’s elected officials, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, 75, who is reportedly being detained.
H&M is said to be “extremely concerned” about what’s going on in Myanmar, according to Tanka.
The company is allegedly in talks with UN and diplomatic agencies, human rights experts, trade unions and other multinational businesses.
“These consultations will guide us in any future decision in relation to how we as a company can best contribute to positive developments in accordance with the will of the people in Myanmar,” Tanka told Reuters.
Reuters contributed to this report.