The opportunities for Western commercial activity in Myanmar have expanded greatly since the government began implementing a series of democratic reforms over the past two years.
The cease-fire with ethnic rebels, the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, the amnesty granted to hundreds of political prisoners, the institution of more progressive labor laws, and the expansion of freedom of expression have enabled Myanmar to emerge from decades of isolation.
The much-heralded transformation has resulted in closer ties to the United States, the EU, and Australia, including increased foreign aid and the restoration of diplomatic relations. Western investors and businesses have begun actively pursuing opportunities in this market which, because of sanctions, was off-limits for decades.
The recent headlines coming out of Myanmar are alluring to businesses across many sectors:
• 7-8% GDP growth forecast through 2020
• Vast, known extractive deposits
• Huge pent-up consumer demand
• Need for major infrastructure investment
• Large youth population creates relatively low-cost labor market
• Strategic location at the crossroads of China, India, and Southeast Asia, with access to over 3 billion consumers
• Emerging pipeline and deep sea port network along critical shipping routes
But these headlines can be deceiving if they are considered in isolation. Myanmar still has much to prove before it can be considered among Asia’s leading economies. A full understanding of the complex and rapidly changing environment is required to succeed in Myanmar:
It is not actually a “virgin” market. There is a high penetration of influential incumbents, including China, Thailand, Singapore, and India, who maintain control over the critical growth drivers.
Complex geopolitics are driving much of the current liberalization and near-term growth, including uncertain relations with China.
Myanmar is not a traditional “emerging market.” It is more a “fallen” or “stumbled” economy that used to be a regional leader.
Ergo is well-placed to identify and assess opportunities in Myanmar. We maintain a robust network of highly connected on-the-ground sources as well as a local team with decades of in-country business experience. Ergo can help clients interested in Myanmar by:
Assessing how the rapidly evolving regulatory environment affects particular opportunities
Investigating target partners, including scrutiny of current or prior presence on the SDN (Specially Designated Nationals) list and FCPA / UK Bribery Act concerns
Conducting market studies on any sector, separating hype from reality, evaluating the competitive landscape and crafting optimal entry strategies
Profiling key local targets, and examining their social networks and influence channels to enable optimal engagement
Minimizing risk exposure through scenario-mapping potential developments in the political, legal and economic spheres
For further information about Ergo’s capabilities in Myanmar, please contact us.