Doing Business in Myanmar

Business and Economic Overview

The Myanmar economy has benefitted from the democratic transition, and economic growth is set to remain amongst the highest in the region. Nevertheless, inflation will remain high, at around 6.5% owing to expansionary policies. The economy remains undiversified and underdeveloped whilst agriculture forms a large part of the economy, as well as employing up to 70% of the population.

The export economy is similarly undeveloped, with petroleum gas, foodstuffs and textiles forming around 75% of export earnings. Myanmar is ranked 171 of 190 in the World Bank’s 2017 Ease of Doing Business Index and 155 of 190 in their Ease of Starting a Business Index. Indeed there are major obstacles to doing business or investing in Myanmar. These include an unskilled workforce, an underdeveloped banking sector, poor communication and transport infrastructures, limited energy infrastructure and the weak rule of law, as well as endemic corruption.

Nevertheless, the economy is continuing to open up to foreign investment, and the strategic position of Myanmar, between the world’s two largest markets, India and China, means that the country has huge potential.

Indeed, it has been theorised that Myanmar’s GDP could quadruple by 2030. Therefore, opportunities exist in almost every sector including infrastructure, transportation, communications, tourism, agriculture, energy, healthcare, mining, and franchising.

In particular, Myanmar has significant oil and gas reserves which have not been fully exploited nor explored, as there are believed to be large unproven reserves. Expertise in energy logistics and insurance are in high demand. Similarly, large mineral resources such as precious metals and stones can be found in Myanmar, which accounts for 90% of global jade and ruby production. As such, there is high demand for heavy equipment, mining and refining technology. 

Myanmar has also allocated $26.8 billion to the development of transport infrastructure until 2030 and is encouraging foreigners to purchase land in Myanmar, which has helped drive a construction boom; the high demand for construction materials, project planning and machinery all represent opportunities. It is highly likely that China will also continue to fund infrastructure projects in Myanmar in the near future, as part of their One Belt One Road Initiative.

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