The world knows Myanmar is re-emerging itself on the international arena and aligning itself with the rest of the open economies. Just 3 years ago in 2011, it embraced unexpected democratic roadmap, a bold act by a military behemoth which ruled the country for more than 5 decades. It was a 360 degree turn and no one imagined it would spring forth suddenly. No sooner had the semi-military controlled government initiated the reforms (not without constant challenges, with current civil unrest between the military and ethnic minorities) had the influx of investors flown into this so called last economic frontier to reap from its untapped potential. In the last 3 years, Myanmar became at the forefront of media. It hosted World Economic Forum on East Asia in capital Naypyitaw in June, 2013, as well as South East Asian games in December 2013. In the subsequent months international figures like Barack Obama, Google’s Eric Schmidt, EU leaders, conglomerates like Coca Cola, KPMG, Financial Times, ADB and other leading corporations came to explore and established their market presence. Myanmar now meets the West and there lies a bridge in the areas of cooperation, education, culture, politics, and humanitarian assistance. These are all signs of reconciliation and development.
On the economic scale, the country performed a gradual growth rate. According to Asian Development Bank the country achieved its GDP of 7.5% in 2013 as compared to 7.3% in 2012. An increase in 2% is attributable to mass flows of import goods and foreign direct investment. It is expected to perform further. In 2013, more than 5000 new businesses registered licenses to operate in the country. The highest of these is small and medium sized enterprises such as online retail businesses, services, construction, health care industries, culture and tourism, banking, financial, and IT sectors. A mirror of all these sectors is colored by streams of Japanese and European made cars and constant construction of sprawling buildings (commercial, condominium and residential) in cities like Yangon, Mandalay, and Naypyitaw. Prices of property for rent and sales are skyrocketing since demand exceeds supply. Just three years ago price of rent for a regular 14x17feet aparment in Yangon per month was only 60000 ks. Today it has skyrocketed to 300,000 ks (approximately 327 USD according to Numbeo) a move that swings dramatically. Despite this soaring price phenomenon people from all walks of life are still flocking to Yangon. All merely in search of opportunities.
However with opportunities come challenges. As new investors come in, there is a growing demand for skilled workforce and upgrading digital infrastructure, plus national investment in Energy. All these three sectors posed as major priority no. 1 in 2011. But a few national development projects have been realized recently. Oreedo and Telenor established its market in Myanmar for telecom services while New York based ACO Investment Group made a deal with Myanmar Ministry of Electric Power for Solar Energy supply. These are early, and yet palpable signs of progresses in Myanmar. The country is still attracting multinational corporations such as Oredoo, Coca Cola or even leading online startups like House.com.mm and work.com.mm which directly or indirectly provide more than 5000 jobs across the country. So there is truly a demand for business operation from emerging market like Myanmar.
A recent feature on Tech In Asia also highlights that with growing internet penetration, retail online businesses in Myanmar could contribute and gain a market share of 80% untapped which is very attractive. Commercially robust and dynamic cities like Yangon, Mandalay, Taunggyi, Lashio, Myitkyina are on the rise as medium size enterprises search for markets that deal with telecommunication, health care, and educational services. This would be the starting point of e-commerce ecosystem in Myanmar’s growing internet market.
Recently, Motors.com.mm one of Myanmar’s most comprehensive online classified cars finders showcased nearly 9000 vehicles on its website. This reflects a growing demand for automobiles with regard to investment in buying and selling through e-commerce sectors such as in (hospitality, tourism, education, banking and health care etc.)
This telecom transformation is now serving as a fulcrum for huge e-commerce operations. Along with this progress, several credible financial consultation firms such as Myanmar Business Network and Myanmar Investments are conducing latest market research and developments, and providing realistic market insights to foreign companies. It is time investors and entrepreneurs look into this emerging market. Of course it means new business plans plus grounded actions to reap exponential profits from the sporadic demands as well as to empower and contribute to Myanmar’s overall developments.
Myanmar is truly changing in the economic and development prospects. The question now remains how we should continue to make this progress as sustainable and more profitable to the public. This must be another changing face of Myanmar in another 3-5 years time.