Myanmar Open for Business

A Feature Story by ADB

A Nation Reborn

Myanmar enjoys abundant natural resources, a strategic location at the crossroads of Asia, and a large, youthful population.

Emerging from decades of economic and political isolation, the country represents a sizeable market, with wide-ranging investment opportunities.

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy's landslide election victory in November 2015 represents a clear mandate for change in Myanmar.

Myanmar needs change. One in four people in Myanmar live in poverty, one of the highest rates in Asia. Annual per capita income is just $1,270, a fifth of neighboring Thailand.

Better Times Ahead

With the election over, the people of Myanmar are hoping a new era of stability will lead to a rapid increase in foreign investment as confidence in the country’s fledgling economy grows.

Myanmar already has one of the most impressive GDP growth rates in the region.

GDP growth, Southeast Asia

A Challenging Market

Myanmar is clearly open for business, but this land of frontier capitalism is not for the faint hearted and many challenges remain for businesses trying to expand and for foreign companies wishing to establish themselves in Myanmar.

Myanmar’s transport and energy sectors need massive investment before they can drive a modern economy.

Can't Get the Staff

ADB is supporting public–private partnerships as well as sovereign loan projects to improve power generation across Myanmar.

Many businesses, like Unilever Myanmar, are having problems growing due to the severe skills shortage that’s the result of decades of underinvestment in education.

ADB is working with the government to roll out a comprehensive vocational training network that will match skills with the needs of the economy, but it will take decades for Myanmar to catch up with the rest of the region.

Trade Finance

ADB’s Trade Finance Program has been active in the country since 2012 building relationships with the government and local banks. In October 2015 the first Trade Financing Agreement was signed with Cooperative Bank.

The World Bank has played a major role in helping the telecommunications sector grow by working with the government on the legal framework for competitive, transparent contracts.

Women Entrepreneurs

It’s small and medium businesses that are crucial for job creation. Start-ups are sprouting in many places as economic confidence grows. The Yangon-based Geek Girls are promoting women’s involvement in the expanding IT sector.

Myanmar’s agenda for economic and social reform is daunting. Hopes are high that the new government will make further progress in laying the building blocks for a market economy that will lead to growth and better jobs.

ADB in Myanmar

The Asian Development Bank and its partners are working with Myanmar to include the poor in the country’s economic success by advising on government policies, supporting trade, promoting skills training and building roads, and other critical infrastructure.