Many foreign manufactures interested in the Myanmar market are curious as to what Myanmar already imports.
I’ve profiled a few of Myanmar’s important import sectors below:
Due to the rapid pace of new construction projects and the continual changeover from manual to mechanized labor in agriculture, Myanmar has a huge need for light and heavy machinery.
Government factories and private enterprises do not have the capital or expertise to manufacture quality machinery in Myanmar. Much of the machinery that is imported into
Myanmar comes from China, with secondary suppliers being Japan and Thailand. There is still a lot of construction work that needs to be done to upgrade Myanmar’s infrastructure, so I
expect these machinery imports to remain high for the foreseeable future.
Oil and Fuel
Although Myanmar does have its own oil resources, production is not able to meet demand, and Myanmar is a net importer of oil and fuel. The Myanmar government has offered subsidies
on gasoline for a long time, making it cheaper in Myanmar than in other Asian countries. As the government’s budget has recently been made public, many are starting to question this
subsidy, as obviously the treasury loses a lot of money with this system. The retail side of this market (i.e. petrol stations) has recently been opened up to private enterprises, however there
are still no international oil companies in this market.
Any visitor to Myanmar will notice the abundance of brightly colored fabric worn by both women and men. Myanmar is one of the few remaining countries with a lively tailoring
industry, and many people prefer to buy raw fabric and then have it tailored, rather than buying ready-made clothing. This has created a lot of demand for fabric which is only produced
in Myanmar in small quantities. A large import market has opened up with China, India, and Thailand to fill this need. Fabric is usually imported in large rolls by traders who then sell these
rolls to retail shops -which in turn sell the fabric by the yard to individual customers.
An economy that cannot produce its own consumer goods will necessarily have to import them. Over the last decade, as incomes have been rising for middle-class and wealthy Myanmar, a
large market has opened up for branded consumer products. Because of sanctions, not all international brands are available in Myanmar at the moment, but investors should understand
that Myanmar people are just as brand conscious as consumers anywhere else in the world. Walking into pricier restaurants and cafés, you will certainly see young Myanmar with their
iPads and brand-name jeans. Besides these branded goods, Myanmar also imports necessities like shampoo, beverages and light bulbs.