With its political opening, Myanmar is also experiencing an economic boom in various business sectors. Though companies face many challenges in areas of workforce skills and infrastructures, the general outlook for business in Myanmar remains quite positive for the coming years, as elections should create further opportunities.
Challenges for business in Myanmar
The dramatic political and economic opening of Myanmar after decades of military rule has allowed businesses to reach untapped resources and competition-free markets. But as exxplained by Alexander Fieldman, president of the US-ASEAN business council, this situation also has created several challenges for business in Myanmar.
The availability and reliability of telecommunications, Internet and electricity is an issue for most companies. Yet, the situation is however improving fast, in the major cities, such as Yangon and Naypyitaw.
Several Southeast Asian and Japanese companies are also moving into Myanmar to develop infrastructures such as roads, bridges, airports or ports. American companies have also been present for a while, as GE has been in the healthcare sector.
There is a large young population in Myanmar but it suffers from a lack of education as universities have been closed by the previous military power. To tackle this issue, several companies have engaged into training their own workforce to improve productivity, or hire younger, foreign trained employees.
The legal system can also be a challenge: ensuring a proper framework for business, and options to resolve disputes can often be difficult.
The upcoming elections of 2015 will be a turning point for the political systems. Waiting for this deadline, some believe that reforms are slowed down by the current authorities to cool the political scene.
Overcoming challenges in Myanmar
On the ground, people such as Andrew Richards, CEO of Yoma Strategic Holdings, believe that whoever is elected will be a reformist leader and that Myanmar is still a land of opportunities. In Myanmar the situation is not as dark as depicted in foreign media.
- Educating their own workers, companies can significantly increase productivity, which will also ultimately benefit to the country as a whole.
- In order to overcome the lack of rules for business and legal transparency, businesses should find local partners to avoid potential problems.
CNBC videos from November 2014