The overall picture of trade in Myanmar last year was affected by COVID-19, resulting in a lockdown, shops closing, and public and private activities being prohibited. In February 2021, Myanmar underwent a major political upheaval, with the country’s administration being placed under the State Administration Council since then.
These factors have led to an economic slowdown. Since 2010, Myanmar has seen average annual growth of 8% to 10%, but in 2021 the World Bank has estimated it will be -10%.
According to Thanawut Naigowit, Director of Thai Trade Center in Yangon, the political changes in the country have made western countries shift their stance towards the ASEAN nation.
“The US, EU, Japan and South Korea are reluctant to funding investment projects in Myanmar,” he says.
He suggests any new entrepreneurs wishing to penetrate the Myanmar market ought to monitor the situation in the country closely, as well as to study trade regulations to mitigate investment risk. “Such a case, any trades with a group of persons in the military, or a company under the Myanmar Army that is a Targeted Sanction by the western countries, will also be boycotted,” he says.
According to Naigowit, Myanmar consumers are familiar with Thai products and trust in their quality.
“The quality and standard of Thai products are placed in the same market segment as those from Japan, Korea, EU and the US, but Thai goods are sold at a more affordable price,” he says.
To promote Thai products in Myanmar, Thai Trade Center, Yangon annually organises the following activities: Top Thai Brands – an annual event to showcase Thai products to people living in Yangon; Mini Thailand Week – an event held in a secondary city, this year in Taunggyi in Shan State; and Instore Promotions – a sales promotional event held at renown shopping malls and supermarkets in Yangon.
In addition, Thai Trade Center, Yangon also organises regularly online business matching activities in conjunction with the DITP that focus on potential export products, such as food, pharmaceuticals, agricultural machinery and lifestyle products.
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Words by Natthinee Ratanaprasidhi