As the last remaining frontier market in Asia (except North Korea) to open up and connect to the global economy, Myanmar is perceived as a significant economic opportunity for countries across the world, yet regarded as also having one of the most unstable environments. The country’s landscape is changing quickly in response to the political, social and economic reforms that began in 2011. In 2016, Myanmar was recorded as the fastest-growing economy in Asia with 8.6% GDP growth.

With a fast-growing consumer market and underdeveloped industry sectors, Myanmar is attracting large international companies in an array of sectors including oil and gas, financial services, telecommunications, hospitality and infrastructure. Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows significantly increased to USD 9.48 billion in 2016 from USD 1.4 billion in 2013. The country’s natural and freshwater resources are strengths that can deliver rich economic and social value to its citizens. Myanmar has a young population with a median age of 30.1. The demographic profile is a strong enabler for economic expansion.

If Myanmar maintains its high rate of labour productivity growth, exhibits improvements in the use of capital, sustains innovation and gains in operational efficiency, its economy is projected to quadruple in size by 2030.

Download Market Report

Myanmar’s 2017 Fact File

World Giving Index Rank

2016
1 1 in 2015
  • 91%giving money
  • 55%volunteering time
  • 63%helping a stranger

Population

2016
56.9 million

GDP (PPP)

2016
USD 304.7 billion World Rank 53

Poverty

2010
25%

Per capita GDP (PPP)

2016
USD 5,832 World Rank 127

Global Competitiveness Index

2015
131

Source: CIA, Charities Aid Foundation (CAF, 2016), Credit Suisse (2016), OECD (2016), World Economic Forum (WEF, 2016), World Bank (2017)

Economic Context for Investors

  • Favourable
  • Moderately favourable
  • Unfavourable
Factors Index Score/Rank Description
GDP Growth 2016
Index Score/Rank
8.1%
The economy advanced 8.1% in 2016, higher than 7% growth in 2015. In 2017, forecast of GDP growth is between 7.5 to 8%.
Governance 2015
Index Score/Rank
-1.2
Myanmar ranked above 9% of all the countries in the World Bank’s Governance Indicators.
Consumer Market 2015
Index Score/Rank
USD 33 billion
Consumer spending decreased by 6% from 2014 to 2015. Political and economic struggles have affected living standards. In the last few years, however, the retail sector has grown by 15%, backed by rising disposable incomes.
Labour Force 2016
Index Score/Rank
31 million
The national workforce increased by 1.4% from 2015 to 2016.
Infrastructure 2015
Index Score/Rank
2.1
The country ranked 134 of 138 countries in terms of infrastructure in the 2015 WEF’s Global Competitiveness Ranking. Citizens do not have adequate access to basic infrastructure and services including electricity, transportation, and communication.
Financial Access 2014
Index Score/Rank
23% of the population
Myanmar has the most underdeveloped banking sector in Southeast Asia. Myanmar’s banking assets-to-GDP ratio was 49%, the lowest in ASEAN in 2016. However, asset growth of 18% over the next 3 years marks future growth prospects.
Digital Access 2015
Index Score/Rank
22% of the population
Mobile phone adoption has also increased significantly to 76 mobile-cellular subscriptions per 100 inhabitants.
Ease of Doing Business 2016
Index Score/Rank
170/190
Myanmar’s Ease of Doing Business rank slightly improved from 171 in 2015 to 170 in 2016. Key constraints include the regulatory environment, weak infrastructure, and an underdeveloped financial sector.
  • Favourable
  • Moderately favourable
  • Unfavourable

SDG Dashboard

After two years of strong economic growth and macroeconomic stability, Myanmar faced a more difficult economic environment in 2015–16. In response, in 2016 the government of Myanmar announced an inclusive economic development policy, which focuses on: (i) national reconciliation, (ii) a competitive private sector, (iii) strengthening financial management and macroeconomic stability, (iv) infrastructure development, (v) agriculture and livestock, (vi) reducing domestic inequality and job creation, (vii) attracting FDI, (viii) developing human capital and skill, (ix) reform of state-owned enterprises, (x) economic liberalisation, and (xi) developing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

  • No Poverty
  • Zero Hunger
  • Good Health and Well-Being
  • Quality Education
  • Gender Equality
  • Clean Water and Sanitation
  • Affordable and Clean Energy
  • Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • Reduced Inequalities
  • Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Responsible Consumption and Production
  • Climate Action
  • Life Below Water
  • Life On Land
  • Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • Partnerships for the Goals
  • Sustainable Development Goals

Source: sdgindex.org (2016)

Government Focus on Development Gaps

Focus Area SDG Goals Gap Government Focus
Agriculture
SDG Goals
  • No Poverty
  • Zero Hunger
  • Decent Work and Economic Growth
Gap
In 2015, 49.3% of Myanmar’s rural population derived their income from agriculture, making it an important focus for rural poverty alleviation. The average annual income per farmer was USD 194 in 2012, lower than those of Thailand (USD 706), Indonesia (USD 730), and Bangladesh (USD 507).
Government Focus
Agriculture is a key focus in Myanmar’s 12-step development agenda enacted in 2015. The policy centres upon technical training, use of high-yield variety seeds, sustainable practices, and fair sprices.
Education
SDG Goals
  • Quality Education
Gap
In 2014, Myanmar’s primary school enrolment was 86.4%, lower than the South Asian average of 89%.
Government Focus
The Education Development Plan 2001–2030 aims to improve delivery of instruction, vocational training and teacher training as well as promote technology in education to ensure universalisation of primary and secondary education.
Energy access
SDG Goals
  • Affordable and Clean Energy
Gap
50.2% of the population has access to electricity, and only 8.3% has access to non-solid fuels.
Government Focus
The Energy Master Plan (EMP) covers renewable energy options for solar, hydro, wind, and biomass electricity, and generation for grid connection and off-grid applications. Myanmar is looking to increase public grid connection ratio to 45% by 2020, and reducing use of firewood to 20% by 2030.
Health and sanitation
SDG Goals
  • Good Health and Well-Being
  • Clean Water and Sanitation
  • Sustainable Cities and Communities
Gap
Myanmar registered high neonatal and maternal mortality rates at 26.4 per 1,000 live births and 178 per 100,000 live births, respectively in 2014.
Government Focus
To achieve universal healthcare by 2020, the government is looking into increasing tax-based financing, insurance cover, maternal and child health voucher schemes and township-based health protection schemes.
Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) growth
SDG Goals
  • Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • Climate Action
Gap
SMEs accounted for more than 90% of all enterprises in Myanmar in 2015. Only 20% of all SMEs have formal outstanding loans, indicating that they largely rely on informal lenders.
Government Focus
Myanmar established the SME Development Centre under the Ministry of Industry in 2013 with the aim to increase SMEs’ share in GDP to 36% within 3 years. The Small and Medium Industrial Development Bank (SMIDB) offers low interest loans to SMEs.

Social Economy

Myanmar has an underdeveloped social economy with significant growth potential given investor interest and emergence of enablers.

There are 645 NGOs and 600 SEs in Myanmar.

Category Factor Rating Description
SPOs
Factor
Legislative environment
quarter Cooperatives, private enterprises and associations are typically preferred over NGO as legal structures for SPOs.
SPOs
Factor
Government support for SEs
quarter Government support is completely lacking for SEs.
SPOs
Factor
SEs across sectors
half SEs in Myanmar are most active in livelihood enhancement, vocational training, and microfinance, with some targeting the BoP population.
SPOs
Factor
Presence, size, and maturity of SEs
half There are about 645 SPOs in Myanmar, the majority of which are in the early stages. Few SEs such as Pomelo and Good Sleep are operationally profitable.
Investors
Factor
Philanthropic contributions
three-quarter Myanmar has consistently scored high in individual giving. A significant share of the population donated money (91%) and volunteered (55%) in 2016.
Investors
Factor
Presence of social investors
half Despite restrictions, development finance institutions (DFIs), international agencies and impact funds are keen to invest in Myanmar.
Investors
Factor
Corporate sector
half The number of CSR programmes is growing and the largest ones have become foundations such as City Mart Holdings. CSR is expected to grow in Myanmar as a result of increased international links and tourism. Partnership Opportunity
Enablers
Factor
Incubators, accelerators, and capacity-builders
three-quarter Around 10 players are actively working to strengthen the support ecosystem for SEs: Incubators and accelerators - Opportunities NOW, Impact Hub Yangon, Phandeeyar, LithuanTechUP Capacity builders - Anthem Asia, Insitor, the British Council Competitions - Code for Change, PS Business School Social Enterprise Idea, UMFCCI Business plan competition. Partnership Opportunity
Enablers
Factor
Networks and platforms
half AVPN, Insitor and Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) provide some of the most notable platforms.
Enablers
Factor
Knowledge and research
half There is a dearth of analysis on Myanmar’s social economy. The British Council and GIIN-Dalberg published research studies on Myanmar’s SE landscape in 2013 and 2015, respectively.
Enablers
Factor
Partnerships
quarter There are few known multisector partnerships in Myanmar.The Yoma Bank and IFC partnership to increase lending to SMEs is one such example.
Enablers
Factor
Impact Measurement
half Current investors use established measurement systems such as the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) scorecard or customise their metrics based on IRIS. DFIs use standard indicators.

partnership Partnership Opportunity

Demand, Supply and Support Ecosystem in Myanmar

Download report

Social Investment Landscape in Asia

Download North & South Asia Report Download South East Asia Report