Dec 4, 2011

Business Opportunities in Myanmar (Burma): The Door is Opening

Myanmar is opening to foreign investment, trade and opportunities.  The next decade will see a far different Myanmar than we see today.  Prior to the present government, Myanmar was the second richest nation in Southeast Asia. 

As experience in Southeast Asia predicts, these opportunities will be largely won by those that enter the Myanmar market first.  The best JV partners will be, largely, won over the next few years.  Additionally, the best concessions will be given to first comers.

A visit to a hotel in the capital, that just a few years ago contained only a handful of foreign tourists, is now full of foreign business people mainly from Europe, America and East Asia.   Some hotels are, now, fully occupied.  This situation was unheard of only last year.

At present, international sanctions in Myanmar prohibit most exports from the country, however, few imports are prohibited from being exported to Myanmar.  However, few companies have been willing to export to Myanmar because of fear that selling to the nation may harm companies brand image and the wrongful impression that few export opportunities exist.

Once sanctions are lifted, it is expected that American, European, Southeast Asian and East Asian Asian companies will follow the handful of companies doing business in Myanmar at this time. 

It is expected that the EU will loosen sanctions early next year and the U.S., after the visit of Secretary of State Clinton, will also follow suit this upcoming year if the nation meets the promises made to Mrs. Clinton during her trip.   However, no reason exists to not explore export opportunities at this time and, also, start to contact potential joint venture partners. 
The nation has large reserves of oil, gas, timber, fish, rice, and precious and semi-precious gems that have not been exploited effectively in decades.  The major challenge to explotitation, as is normally the case in this part of the world, is infrastructure.  The World Bank and Asian development bank are working on projects at this time.

The nation, additionally, desperately needs basic consumer products, industrial machinery, and skilled professionals in the service sectors.  The country has the resources to purchase these goods and services, but few are selling.

At present only a handful of international companies are selling products to Myanmar.   The companies include Unilever, Total SA, PTT, CNOOC, and Jebsen & Jessen.  China's CNOOC seems to have a very active presence in Myanmar, but the details of their projects are not known.

We will be writing more articles on Myanmar on this blog over the next couple of weeks. 
As a Firm that loves to do work in Myanmar and loves the kind people, we are looking forward to more benefits trickling down to the people, while assisting clients entering a country with a bright future, proud past and an energetic population.

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SeanHayes@ipglegal.com
www.ipglegal.com