Guide to doing business in Myanmar

Doing business in Myanmar

Myanmar is the new frontier for business in Southeast Asia. A large and populated country just opening its doors to foreign companies and investors, Myanmar is rich with opportunities in many sectors. However, Myanmar also presents several technical and legal challenges to be managed and overcome by new comers.

Business administration and compliance in Myanmar

Put together by PricewaterhouseCoopers Myanmar, the following guide covers many aspects of Myanmar’s business landscape, from regulation and taxes to sectors overviews and incentives for investment. It will come in handy for companies, investors and professionals willing to benefit from the promising business perspectives of Myanmar.

Though some official information can be found in the website of the Directorate of Investment and Company Information of Myanmar, the PwC report presents extra details and statistical data together with more economic and legal background.

Highlights for business in Myanmar

The report starts by reviewing how foreigners have been primarily investing in infrastructure for the Power and Oil & Gas sectors, as the development of the energy sector of Myanmar is key to fuel the growth, from its current state of under-equipment.

Investment have also been strong in the sectors of Transport & Communications and Mining, together with Real Estate and Hotel & Tourism, two sectors that are strongly influenced by the boom in real estate prices spurred by the arrival of tourists and expats.

The PwC report goes on to cover key aspects of the Burmese economy and its special economic zones, together with the various administrative information: company types and formation, accounting and taxes practices, employment and human resources…

Myanmar Business Guide – summary

Myanmar Business Guide - PwC report
Click on the cover to open the PDF report from PwC

1. Foreword – page 4

2. The economy – page 8

  • Economic prospects – page 9
  • Regulatory environment surrounding foreign investment – page 11
  • Major foreign investors in Myanmar – page 12
  • Key sectors for foreign investment – page 13
  • Domestic investments – page 14
  • Major deals in Myanmar – page 16
  • Special Economic Zones – page 18

For more information on investment in Myanmar, check this 2015 report from the US Department of State

3. Conducting business in Myanmar – page 19

  • Form of business – page 19
  • Foreign investment restrictions – page 22
  • Investment incentives – page 23
  • Investment guarantee and protection – page 26
  • New laws in pipeline – page 26

4. Accounting and audit regulations in Myanmar – page 27

  • Statutory requirements – page 27
  • Myanmar financial reporting standards – page 28
  • Books and records – page 29

5. Taxation in Myanmar – page 30

  • Corporate income tax – page 30
  • Personal income tax – page 36
  • Commercial tax – page 38
  • Other taxes – page 40

6. Human resources and employment law – page 41

  • Employment of foreigners – page 41
  • Work permit processing and requirements (Managerial, supervisor, expertise) – page 42
  • Labour Laws in Myanmar – page 42
  • Permanent residency in Myanmar – page 42

7. Other considerations – page 43

  • Commercial registration and licensing requirements – page 43
  • Exchange control – page 44
  • Foreign exchange – page 44
  • Foreign ownership of land and property – page 45
  • Arbitration law – page 45
  • Economic and trade – page 46

8. Banking in Myanmar – page 48

  • Financial structure of Myanmar – page 48
  • Capital markets – page 55
  • Foreign exchange rates – page 57

9. Country overview – page 58

  • Country snapshot – page 58
  • Brief history – page 60
  • Demographics – page 61
  • Political system and governance structure – page 62

List of Acronyms

  • AEC ASEAN Economic Community
  • CA Myanmar Companies Act
  • CBM Central Bank of Myanmar
  • CCTO Company Circle Tax Office
  • CEPT Common Effective Preferential Tariff
  • CRO Companies Registration Office
  • DICA Directorate of Investment and Company Administration
  • FEMB Foreign Exchange Management Board
  • FEML Foreign Exchange Management Law
  • FERA Foreign Exchange Regulation Act 1947
  • IFRS International Financial Reporting Standards
  • ILO International Labour Organisation
  • IRD Inland Revenue Department
  • ITL Income Tax Law
  • LTO Large Taxpayers’ Office
  • MAC Myanmar Accounting Council
  • MEB Myanmar Economic Bank
  • MFIL Myanmar Foreign Investment Law
  • MFRS Myanmar Financial Reporting Standards
  • MFTB Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank
  • MIC Myanmar Investment Commission
  • MIL Myanmar Investment Law
  • MMK Myanmar Kyat
  • SCB State Commercial Bank
  • SEE State-Owned Economic Enterprise
  • SEZ Special Economic Zone
  • YSX Yangon Stock Exchange

Cultural tips for the Myanmar business environment

A former investment banker, Thura Ko Ko is a financial advisor, managing director of YGA Capital. He presents some of his experiences and insights for doing business and entrepreneurship in Maynmar, as part of the TEDxInyaLake event that featured talks on developing Myanmar.

The economy and society is changing fast in Myanmar, especially through technology and the use of Internet and mobile. Therefore, lots of business models, especially in banking and retail, need to adapt to this new environment.

Politics is very heavily involved in business in Myanmar, and businesses need to manage political and regulatory lack of transparency.

Myanmar entrepreneurs are very resourceful and solution-oriented. They will adapt to changing and often difficult conditions to do business.

Myanmar’s culture can also sometimes cause inefficiencies and miscommunication due to its people’s unwillingness to communicate negative or awkward aspects. Businessmen must therefore understand what is not said to properly manage their operations and go beyond “Ya Bar Dare”.

People management is of primary importance in Myanmar: businesses need to manage daily interpersonal exchanges and build long-term relations.

Video published by TEDx Talks in April 2016

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