Stronger investment contributed to faster growth in gross domestic product (GDP) last year and is expected to drive further expansion this year and next. The government maintained momentum on policy reform. Sustaining this reform agenda depends on strengthening institutions and capacity development at all levels of government. It also requires concerted efforts to reform and develop electricity supply.

Economic performance

GDP growth accelerated to an estimated 7.5% in Fiscal Year 2013 (ended 31 March 2014) from a revised 7.3% in FY2012. Growth was supported by rising investment propelled by improved business confidence, commodity exports, buoyant tourism, and credit growth, complemented by the government’s ambitious structural reform program.

Higher imports of capital goods reflected the stronger investment. Capital goods imports surged by 59.5% to $5.8 billion in 2013.

Business confidence has markedly improved in recent years, as reflected in a rapid increase in new business registrations, which exceeded 5,000 in the 10 months to January 2013, more than in the whole of the previous fiscal year. Registrations of new foreign-owned businesses rose to 375. Private sector credit maintained a rapid growth pace of 46% in FY2013.

Agriculture, which employs more than half the workforce, recovered in FY2013 after being hit by flooding in mid-2012. Natural gas output expanded with the Shwe and Zawtika gas fields starting production.

Exports of natural gas increased by 68.8% to 7.7 trillion cubic feet in the 12 months to September 2013. Gas exports were valued at $3.6 billion, accounting for almost 40% of all exports.

Selected Economic Indicators (%) - Myanmar 2014 2015
GDP Growth 7.8 7.8
Inflation 6.6 6.9
Current Account Balance (share of GDP) –5.1 –4.8

Source: ADB estimates.

Economic prospects

The economy is forecast to post higher growth of 7.8% in both FY2014 and FY2015, benefiting from rising investment and improved business confidence since the government started to rejuvenate and open the economy 3 years ago.

A number of developments last year contributed to raising Myanmar’s international profile as an investment destination, including the award of telecommunications licenses to Norway’s Telenor and Qatar’s Ooredoo, selection of investors from the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Japan as preferred bidders for developing airports, and hosting of the World Economic Forum on East Asia and of the Southeast Asia Games.

The government has initiated a broad array of reforms: unifying the exchange rate, improving monetary policy, increasing tax collection, reorienting public expenditure toward social and physical infrastructure, improving the business and investment climate, developing the financial sector, and liberalizing agriculture and trade.

Source: ADB. 2014. Asian Development Outlook 2014. Manila.