Myanmar, or the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (formerly Burma), is the second largest country in Southeast Asia, with a population slightly over 51 million. Administratively, Myanmar has seven states and seven regions, many of which are divided along ethnic lines.
As the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia, Myanmar has one of the lowest population densities in the region, significant untapped agricultural potential, and a rich endowment of natural resources and labor.
Myanmar government officials stress that the country will remain an agriculture-based economy for the foreseeable future, with the goal of developing its agribusiness into one of the leading food suppliers in Asia.
This should be achievable, given that the country’s geographic location at the intersection of China and India makes it well positioned to regain its traditional role as a regional trading hub and key supplier of not only agricultural products, but also minerals and natural gas.
Assuming current policies remain on track, Myanmar’s economy is expected to sustain high growth rates for the foreseeable future, fueled by ongoing economic reforms and foreign investment. Several key industries, such as power, petroleum, infrastructure, and telecommunications, should be key contributors over the next five to ten years.
However, the immediate market for Western consumer products will remain somewhat limited. While Myanmar’s population is slightly smaller than Thailand’s, only about 4% are considered in the “consuming class” with incomes above subsistence level. As incomes rise, however, demand for such products should grow significantly. The most optimistic estimates project a quadrupling of the country’s GDP by 2030, during which the urban population is expected to double.
As one of the least developed countries in Asia, Myanmar has market opportunities in nearly every sector. The following hold particular promise: