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A Practical Guide to Doing Business in Myanmar

Myanmar is a Least Developed Country (LDC) in ASEAN and it has exhibited fairly strong economic growth in recent years. It is the seventh largest ASEAN economy (ahead of Cambodia, Laos and Brunei). Services, industry and agriculture respectively account for about 46%, 28% and 26% of the country’s GDP. In the wake of political uncertainty and sluggish foreign investment evident in 2015, the economy managed to stabilise in 2017 after shrugging off weak agricultural production and exports in the preceding year. The IMF’s World Economic Outlook, October 2017 projects Myanmar to remain one of the fastest growing economies in Asia over the next two years, primarily as a result of private and public investments in the manufacturing, energy and transport sectors. In the Article IV Consultation concluded by the IMF in November 2017, however, it was cautioned that a second wave of reforms is needed to accelerate the country’s growth momentum, with capacity development seen as imperative to fostering medium-term inclusive growth.

Broadly stated, Myanmar’s civilian government is committed to further improving the investment climate and adopting policies friendly to foreign direct investment (FDI). This, combined with Myanmar’s close proximity to mainland Southeast Asia, China and India, makes the country one of the low-cost and attractive places in which to invest in the region. Meanwhile, Myanmar is considered a challenging country to do business in ASEAN, and is ranked 171th out of 190 economies in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2018 report. The main challenges faced by Myanmar include:

  • Starting a business is a time-consuming process in Myanmar (ranking 155 out of 190) compared to other countries in the East Asia and Pacific region.

  • Workforce – Myanmar has a population of about 53 million with around two-thirds of the people reaching working age. However only 10% of the population has attained the tertiary education level. 

  • Infrastructure – Both national and regional infrastructure and logistics links need to be further developed. 

  • Corruption and bureaucracy – There is extensive red tape to gain access to certain permits and licences.

The opportunities for Hong Kong companies to invest in Myanmar are broad, as the country needs significant investment in transport infrastructure, telecommunications, healthcare, urbanisation and manufacturing (inside and out of special economic zones). This business guide provides practical information for Hong Kong companies on investing and doing business in Myanmar.

 

  1. Regulatory Environment
  2. Establishing a Presence
  3. Intellectual Property Protection
  4. Staff Recruitment
  5. Tax Considerations
  6. Import/Export Procedures
  7. Further Information


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