Myanmar’s investment potential – is it an option?

By Divya Chowdhury
March 12, 2014

Would you consider investing in Myanmar? Only 4 percent of Myanmar’s 60-million population belongs to the consumer class in comparison with 23 percent in Indonesia, around 1 in 10 Burmese owns a mobile phone, and the country has one of the lowest rankings on the International Transparency Index. But increasingly more corporates and investors seem to be turning to the land of jades and gems in the wake of a ‘more business-friendly government’.

Earlier today on GMF, we chatted with  Krishna Ramachandra, a lawyer at Selvam & Partners about the prospects of investing in Burma. Here are some excerpts from our Q&A with him:

Notable changes in Myanmar over the last few years:
“I have been going there actively in the last 3 years and notable changes would be a) vibrancy in activity at a business and commercial level, b) signiifcant increase in traffic, and c) a lot more foreigners and foreign companies setting up shop i.e. restaurants, signage and instructions we get as a law firm.”

“Resource companies are predominantly Chinese but real estate, hospitality opportunities are driven more by other non-Chinese investors.”

Key to next phase of development:
“Lack of power is an issue – not sure of exact numbers.. that is why electricity/ power roll out is key to Myanmar’s development. Most businesses use generators and have come to live with the brownouts and blackouts. In our office we get brownouts once in a while.”

A business-friendly government:
“the government  is taking pragmatic approach - extremly friendly and anything that helps to promote the development of the labour force in terms of training and economic benefit will be looked upon favourably.”

“Foreign investors are coming in because they see a myriad of opportunities across industries. Not all countries are blessed with resource and geographical positioning myanmar.”

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