Myanmar became the seventh member of the SASEC partnership in March 2017. Its participation in SASEC is expected to further promote and accelerate inter-subregional cooperation between South Asia and Southeast Asia and beyond, and will contribute significantly to achieving the future development goals of both subregions.
Myanmar became a full member of SASEC in February 2017, following several years as an active Observer. Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal formed the project-based partnership in 2001. Maldives and Sri Lanka joined SASEC in May 2014.
Myanmar's National Comprehensive Development Plan (NDCP) A Prosperous Nation Integrated Into the Global Community 2030 envisions a prosperous country integrated into the global community, supported by strategic thrusts in economic development, environmental protection, and the strengthening of governance and public institutions. In view of the changing global and regional economy, Myanmar intends to focus on integration into the global economic system, emphasizing institutional and policy changes, and implementing sectoral and regional strategies.
SASEC Technical Assistance in Myanmar
ADB-financed technical assistance has supported SASEC activities in Myanmar to help advance the country’s engagement in regional cooperation activities, including under the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) framework. Myanmar has actively participated—first as Observer, and then as full member—in SASEC regional technical assistance projects that have supported regional cooperation forums, knowledge-sharing initiatives, and capacity building.
Direction of Intra-regional Trade
The value of Myanmar's merchandise exports and imports trade with other SASEC member countries, using International Monetary Fund data from 2015, is captured in the tables below.
Myanmar's 5th largest import source worldwide is India, with imports at nearly $518 million. Its 25th largest import source is Bangladesh, valued at nearly $26 million.
India and Bangladesh are among Myanmar's largest export destinations—India is Myanmar's 4th largest export market, with exports valued at around $875 million. Bangladesh is Myanmar's 12th largest market, with exports from Myanmar at around $109 million.
Source: IMF Direction of Trade Statistics
Myanmar Trade - ImportSource: IMF Direction of Trade Statistics
Myanmar Trade - ExportSource: IMF Direction of Trade Statistics
Ease of Doing Business
In 2017, Myanmar reduced the cost of registering a company, and simplified the process of incorporation by removing the requirement to submit a reference letter and a criminal history certificate, making it easier and more cost effective to start a business.
However, delays and higher cost of processing incoming cargo at Yangon port affected ease of trading across borders.
Source: Doing Business
Note: The World Bank/International Finance Corporation's annual flagship Doing Business Report measures the ease of doing business by ranking economies from 1 to 189, based on quantitative indicator sets that can be compared across economies and over time, with first place being the best and indicating a regulatory environment is conducive to business operation. Of immediate relevance to SASEC aims and goals are indicator sets on Starting a Business, and Trading across Borders.
Logistics Performance Index (LPI)
Myanmar’s overall LPI score for 2016 is 2.46, up from 2.25 in 2014, but under the South Asia regional average score of 2.62. The overall 2016 rank of 113 out of 160 countries is an improvement from 145 in 214, and a result of better scores on the six core dimensions of LPI.
Source: World Bank LPI
Note: The LPI overall score reflects perceptions of a country's logistics based on six core dimensions: (i) efficiency of customs clearance process, (ii) quality of trade- and transport-related infrastructure, (iii) ease of arranging competitively priced shipments, (iv) quality of logistics services, (v) ability to track and trace consignments, and (vi) frequency with which shipments reach the consignee within the scheduled time. The scores for the six areas are averaged across all respondents and aggregated to a single score using principal components analysis. A higher score indicates better performance.
Myanmar LPI 2010-2016
Source: World Bank LPI
Industry growth in Bangladesh in FY2016 was higher than expected, in line with a strong garment sector. Services growth also boosted the economy, supported by higher wages in the public sector. Bangladesh can expect lower inflation in 2017 thanks to domestic factors such as ample food supply and slow private sector credit growth, and still low global fuel and commodity prices.
Bangladesh experienced solid growth in 2015 as it continued to benefit from lower commodity prices and strong FDI inflows. Frontier economies and small states in Asia and the Pacific are expected to continue to record steady growth. Bangladesh’s growth is expected to accelerate to 6.6% in 2016 and to 6.9% in 2017, helped by lower commodity prices and strong investment in the manufacturing sector.