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.

Trade Snapshot

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 2020, is captured in the tables below.

Myanmar's 6th largest import source worldwide is India, with imports at $713 million. Its 31st largest import source is Bangladesh, valued at $23 million.

India and Bangladesh are among Myanmar's largest export destinations—India is Myanmar's 4th largest export market, with exports valued at $786 million. Bangladesh is Myanmar's 31st largest market, with exports from Myanmar at $23 million.

Myanmar Trade in SASEC Subregion Source: IMF Direction of Trade Statistics, as of October 2020

Myanmar Trade - Import

Source: IMF Direction of Trade Statistics, as of October 2020

Myanmar Trade - Export

Source: IMF Direction of Trade Statistics, as of October 2020


Ease of Doing Business

In 2020, Myanmar made it easier to do business by enacting reforms in the following areas:

  • Starting a Business: Myanmar introduced an online platform for company registration and reduced incorporation fees.
  • Dealing with Construction Permits: Myanmar strengthened quality controls for becoming architects and engineers and made building permit requirements available online.
  • Registering Property: Myanmar streamlined deed registration and appraisal and published the fee schedule of its land administration system.
  • Protecting Minority Investors: Myanmar strengthened protection for minority investors by requiring greater corporate transparency.
  • Enforcing Contracts: Myanmar published performance measuring reports to make it easier to enforce contracts.

Source: Doing Business, accessed June 2020

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 190, 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 2018 is 2.3. The country saw an improved score in timeliness (2.91 from 2.85) and a dip in its scores in the five other categories. It scored 2.28 in logistics competence and 2.20 in both international shipments and tracking and tracing. Myanmar ranked 137 out of 168 economies in 2018.

Myanmar LPI 2018

Source: World Bank LPI (accessed December 2018)

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.

Economic Outlook

Asian Development Outlook

Growth in Myanmar is expected to slow to 4.2% in fiscal year (FY) 2020 and pick up to 6.8% in FY2021. The external risk brought by the global coronavirus health crisis will contribute to weaker earnings from exports and services in 2020. The expected fiscal deficit will be manageable. Creating jobs and building climate change resilience will be needed to empower Myanmar's rural economy.

Source: Asian Development Outlook 2020 (ADB)
East Asia and Pacific Economic Update

GDP growth in Myanmar is at 6.5% in 2018/2019, owing to weaker growth in services. While tourist arrivals accelerated, high inflation has led to lower real private income, affecting private consumption. Growth will reach 6.8% in 2021/2022 with the projected pick-up in agriculture. Policy measures to encourage investment, such as those for the energy sector, are expected to strengthen manufacturing and construction sectors.

Source: East Asia and Pacific Economic Update, October 2019 (WB)