BUSINESS ARTICLE

Growing Delivery Services in Myanmar during COVID-19

Before the time of COVID-19, delivery services were not widely used as most Myanmar people like to buy things by checking with their own eyes. Nevertheless, since COVID-19 is mostly spread through coughing, sneezing and droplets left on surfaces, the local authorities ordered the bars, dine-in restaurants, entertainment facilities throughout Myanmar to close. Besides, more and more people are practicing social distancing and staying at home. Therefore, services that deliver food, groceries, home essential, clothing, cosmetics, electronic devices, medical supplies and packages are widely used since March, 2020.

Yangon Delivery Services (Popular Food Delivery Services)

  • Food2u
  • Food Panda
  • Grab Food
  • Hi-so Mall
  • Yangon Door2Door (Not only for food but also for packages and letters)

During COVID-19 period, these food delivery services are spreading their network with as many restaurants as possible in order to provide more varieties of food to the customers. They also offer a lot promotions with free of charge delivery to customers. Colorful bicycles from these companies can be seen in the streets of Yangon delivering food and goods to customers everyday.

People use delivery services in order to avoid the risk of getting infected by the corona virus. However, there is still risk of being infected between customers and delivery staffs. As delivery staffs have to enter several restaurants, touching the doors, counters and cash. To reduce the contact, customers can choose to leave the deliveries at doors. In addition, cashless payment can be chosen rather than cash on delivery.  But there are many customers who still use cash on delivery payment. So, it is needed to wash the hands for 20 seconds before eating to be safe.

Moreover, the delivery staffs also need to pay attention to the condition of food in delivering to the customers. If something happened to the food while delivering, they make sure to satisfy the customer as soon as possible or they will lose a customer soon as there are many choices.

In addition, customers can set the time and date to deliver as they want. So, if you set the perfect time for breakfast, your food will be at the door by the time you wake up.  Since the location can be changed each time, customers can also send food to their friends and families by paying for them from online.

Direct distribution and Door to door delivery services are widely used today’s distribution channels. Manufacturers/distributors deliver their products directly to retailers and end consumers through online sales. Mini vans are being used to carry goods during COVID period.

City to city Delivery Services in Myanmar

During this pandemic, there is an increase in demand of delivery services not only within the city but also city to city in Myanmar. Since people are not allowed to go to other cities without any apparent reasons so far, these deliver services are mainly used to deliver the packages or letters. There is also the door to door service which can keep the customers safe in their house. In delivering other cities, customers can choose the relevant packaging as well as shipping according to the kind of package. Moreover, the instant tracking is also available so that people can feel secure about their shipping. People mainly use the parcels andcourier services such as Royal Mail, Royal express, SBS Express and Marathon Express to deliver their packages or letters. They provide same day pickup and delivery in Yangon city. In the time of COVID-19, the Marathon Express also connect with taxi drivers and freelance cyclists in order to cover the increased delivery demand within the city. Moreover, the highway express company like Shwe Thia also offers city to city delivery services of packages even their main service, the passengers transportation, isn’t allowed so far. For major cities within Myanmar, overnight or next-day delivery service is provided since these companies have partnered with many local buslines and transportation providers nationwide. Efficient delivery services become active from China border (Muse) and Thai border (Myawaddy) to domestic market.

Inbound and Outbound Delivery Services

  • DHL Express
  • UPS
  • EMS (International)
  • Royal Express
  • BeeXprss Courier Service Myanmar
  • Others

Inbound and outbound delivery services are widely used especially during the COVID-19 period. These companies offer delivering small packages to oversized packages and products to and from other countries. There are also a number of available services such as pick-up services, door-to-door service and internet tract and trace services etc. Based on the size of package, the cost of shipping and shipping methods are differed. The common words they all assure are “security and reliability”. They are offering the secured and reliable inbound and outbound delivery services to the clients all across the world.

Other delivery services

With a population of 54 million and 22 million internet users, and 6.6% annual growth in those users, the country’s digital transformation is now very underway, alongside increasing demand for online services. There are also delivery service providers who work privately without connecting with express companies. These providers mainly use social media like Facebook in finding the clients. They post about their services on their personal pages as well as on the public groups. They also assure the safety and hygiene of the track and package so that the clients feel safe with the delivering process. Development of cold chain logistic in Myanmar is expected and huge market potential along with growing advanced delivery services.


Growing Online Shopping in Myanmar during COVID-19

In the first week of the official announcement about COVID-19 in Myanmar in March 2020, there was a panic buying especially among people who lives in urban areas. However, it is controlled after one or two weeks as consumers aware that COVID-19 will be a long-term battle. Then people started to reduce panic buying and try to adapt the situations during the time of COVID-19. The COVID-19 demands social distancing which makes most people stay at their homes. They have to work from home and even shop from home that is a better option that keep them safe. Therefore, the number of internet users in Myanmar has increased followed by the number of online shops. Especially during COVID-19, the online shops are useful to us from buying groceries to even cars and apartments.

After social media has become a part in our daily life, in Myanmar, Facebook is the most popular one. So, many retail sellers are using Facebook in order to reach their customers easily. Moreover, there are a number of online shopping websites, which become more popular during COVID-19.

Popular Online Shopping Websites in Myanmar during COVID-19

  • Shop.com.mm
  • OneKyat
  • Rgo47.com
  • MogoZay
  • City Mall Online

These websites are also available in applications which be installed in the mobile phones. These websites sell both local and international products in many categories such as clothes, shoes, groceries, mobile phone gadgets, household products, beauty care products and much more. Especially in the time of COVID-19, they also focus from vitamin supplements which support antibody and health to products like mask, face shield and hand gel. Unlike other websites, OneKyat is a Buy and Sell C2C marketplace where users can sell, buy or trade used or news items with each other. OneKyat is especially popular for mobile phones, electronic items and cars. Nevertheless, it is sure that every website manages to provide quality products in order to satisfy people who don’t want to go out.

In placing the order, the customers can buy the goods on the website or from the hotline call. They can also put the order via Facebook Page, too. Then, the customers can choose whether to pay by online payment like credit or debit cards or cash on delivery. They also have delivery service to cities across Myanmar.

Food and Restaurant

During the time of COVID-19, most of the restaurants are starting to do home deliveries by connecting with different food delivery companies or by their own. They mainly used facebook for informing the customers about their new delivery services. On facebook, almost all kinds of food, from breakfast toast to seafood dishes and nearly all restaurants, from fast food shops like KFC, Lotteria to first class restaurants are available. Moreover, many homemade food like fish paste sauce to Burmese curry dishes are also available on their personal facebook pages.  Customers can place the order by a hotline call or from chatting.

Facebook Live Sale

Apart from Facebook Online Shopping Pages selling by chatting or phone calls, the current popular method is Facebook Live. Currently, many online shops especially jewellery shops are selling their products from Facebook Live by inviting actress, actors or social influencers to get good engagement from people. In Myanmar Facebook Live Sales trend, the current most popular actress is Htet Htet Moe Oo and she is selling for different jewellery shops and even luxury car and house companies on Facebook Live. There are also some people selling clothes, shoes, bags and their homemade food from Facebook Live.

Benefit of Online Shopping

The main benefit of online shopping to consumers is being convenience and having anything you need. Shopping can be done within a minute without moving an inch as well as almost anytime. Moreover, we can shop anything we need from online, from a paper to even a house. The second benefit is having variety of choices with better prices. Almost every brand or item can be found in online shopping. Moreover, when the product comes to the customers from the manufacturers directly, better prices are available since there are no traders in the middle. The third benefit is that consumers can send gift easily even to the person in different city. All they need to do is to choose the item and pay for the gift. Then, all packaging and shipping will be done on the day and time they want. For the fourth, online Shopping has always been a good choice for those who don’t like crowd. Especially during this COVID-19 period, it can also ensure safety.

Online sale creates benefits to businesses

Almost all businesses are suffered by the impact of COVID-19. At that time, they have to manage the risk and look for the opportunities to survive. Then, they become to sell their products from online by using their own websites or from facebook pages. Even though online sales cannot normally reach their normal sale, it creates benefits to business. By selling from online effectively, their brand name is reached to more consumers and can gain new consumers even from other regions. It can also help save their marketing, operation and labour cost.

Challenges of Online Shopping

The biggest challenge in online shopping business is ‘trust’ between business and consumers. In buying from online, customers have to give their personal information like their address and phone numbers. In this case, it is important for the online shops to keep these data private. The other problem is the quality of the products. They have to give to the customers as they promise. In the earlier times, there were some cases about lying people from online shopping pages. But now, people know that they must check carefully about the pages or the person when they buy from online or else, they can choose the official websites and pages which are more secure.

For businesses which sell from online, they have to care about their reputation. They need to have good reputation for quality of their products. In such case, they need to manage good packaging and delivery system well. They have to make sure their products reach to the consumers as promised.

Prospect for future online shopping

All in all, it cannot be denied that online shopping businesses are great help to people especially in the time of COVID-19 and it is surely to continue growing in post COVID period.  Potential products and services via online shopping in future can also be customized items for a specific consumer based on that consumer’s preferences and choices.


Assistance and Support for COVID affected business and communities in Myanmar (1)

Assistance and support to businesses

In an effort to meet the exigencies faced by Myanmar as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Myanmar Government has launched the COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan since 27th April, 2020. The COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan (CERP) comprises seven goals, 10 strategies, 36 action plans and 76 actions, each with an estimated timeline and designated authority in charge, covering a broad range of extraordinary fiscal measures, combined with a set of human-focused and commonsense policy responses. Moreover, the implementation of the plan is monitored in order to enhance transparency and accountability of the government. Therefore, Goals and Action Plans contained within this Comprehensive Response Plan are taken place in a coordinated manner, with appropriate and sufficient oversight. The flow of information must be organized, timely and coherent. Among the actions the government has committed to, a total of K1908 billion were provided including K200 billion from COVID-19 MSME fund, K100 billion to restaurants and teashops, K600 billion to the local farmers at MMK 50,000 per acre of farmland through Myanmar Agricultural Development Bank according to the data on 4th September, 2020. [1]

First MSME Fund Loan

The Myanmar Government set up an initial K100 billion (K50 billion from the Social Security Fund and K50 billion from the government budget) COVID 19 Fund to provide immediate loans to enterprises designated in priority sectors hit hard by the COVID-19 shock in late March,2020. The categories included Cut Make Pack (CMP) manufacturing enterprises, hotels and tourism, and small and medium enterprises. These businesses can submit loan applications to COVID 19 Fund at 1% rate of interest for a one-year period. Loan applications can be submitted via online as well as in person and the application period is from 30th March to 9th April,2020. In this batch, more than 4,250 businesses applied through Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) for the loan and 3,393 of them received the loan in line with the loan procedures, according to the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations. [2]

The businesses are distinguished into six different sectors under the categories of (1) Garment industry, (2) Hotels and Tourism, (3) Manufacturing and Production sectors, (4) Basic commodities and Restaurants, (5) Service sectors, and (6) others. Allocation of the first MSME loan with types of business can be seen below:

Allocation of Financial Assistance and Loan to the Affected Businesses

No.BusinessQuantityAmount (Kyat mln)Percentage
1CMP (garment)456,3126.24%
2CMP (others)2750.07%
3Hotels34015,72115.55%
4Tour Industry2363,7573.72%
5Restaurants2205,1825.12%
6MSME for foodstuffs, commodities, Products manufacturing industry and services2,55070,08169.30%
 Total Amount3,393101,128100.00%

Source: Global New Light of Myanmar

Second SMSE Fund Loan

The second batch of COVID-19 loan is planned to be paid out to the businesses stricken by the coronavirus impacts starting from end of September. The loan applications were received between 29th July and 10th August. Over 7,600 businesses from the regions and states other than Yangon manually applied for the loan at the UMFCCI State and Region offices. The UMFCCI received more than 10,000 applications including 800 online applications. The amount of second loan will be K100 billion but only K20.77 billion was issued to 1,041 businesses in the first round. 

The priority sectors for the second batch of COVID loan are agriculture and livestock enterprises, manufacturing businesses, import-substitution businesses, food and beverage businesses, overseas employment agencies, export and import businesses, and vocational schools.[3]

Agriculture Loan

Myanmar Agricultural Development Bank (MADB) under the Ministry of Planning, Finance, and Industry has lent agricultural loans to farmers every year. The MADB lent Ks 1,684 billion in 2018-19 FY and Ks 1,747 billion in 2019-20 FY. The government increased the per-acre agricultural loan from Ks 100,000 to Ks 150,000 in 2016-17 FY. The loan for other crops is raised from Ks 50,000 to Ks 100,000 per acre during 2019-20 fiscal year.  During COVID-19 period, the ministry arranges up to K600 billion COVID-19 special loan for 12 million acres of land with an interest rate of five percent. The plan is to support an additional loan of K50,000 per acre to farmers in addition to the regular agricultural loan for the monsoon season. [4]

Other remedies

Other non-financial assistance can be seen as follows;

  1. Interest rate cut

      The Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) has cut its key interest rates for three times, 3 percentage points in total within two months. The changes on the rates were effective on 1st May 2020.

  • 1st time – 0.5 percentage point cut on 12 March 2020
  • 2nd time – further 1 percentage point reduction on 24 March 2020
  • 3rd time – a further 1.5 percentage point cut on April/May 2020 [5]

2) Extend tax payment deadline

In late March 2020, the government pushed back the income tax deadlines for both the second and third quarters, as well as the monthly commercial tax deadlines. Income tax payments that were originally supposed to be paid by March 31 for the second quarter, June 30 for the third quarter and September 30 for the fourth quarter can now be made through December 31st. The monthly commercial tax for the period from March to November in the current fiscal year can also be paid by 31st December 2020.[6]

3)   Relief license and registration fees

As part of the COVID-19 relief programs, the Road Transport Administration Department (RTAD) has relieved overdue payment of vehicles and driver licenses by notifying those people who did not register their vehicles and driver’s licenses in March, April, May and June. [7]Moreover, RTAD has also lowered the vehicle registration fees for imported private used cars starting from August 7 to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19. For the vehicles with the engine power of 1,350 CC and below, the department reduced the registration fees to 15 percent from 30 percent, and to 25 percent from 50 percent for 1,351-2,000 CC engine power, 40 percent from 80 percent 2,001-5,000 CC and 60 percent from 120 percent for 5,000 CC and above.[8]

Additional support for businesses

Other support and remedies are essential for business to survive under COVID crisis. The government should provide fiscal support without endangering debt sustainability. It includes tax concessions and cash flow support to business sector other than MSMEs. More measures will be required to achieve economic recovery in Myanmar and proper arrangements for smooth supply chain are also essential.

[1] The Global New Light of Myanmar (27.9.2020)

[2] Eleven Media (19.6.2020)

[3] The Irrawaddy (28.4.2020)

[4] Myanmar Times (8.7.2020)


Assistance and Support for COVID affected business and communities in Myanmar (2)

Assistance and support to community

It has already been 6 months since Myanmar was suffered due to the coronavirus pandemic. Even though some people have learned to adapt their day-to-day living with the current pandemic, there are still many people in Myanmar who are having a hard time coping up with the aftermath of COVID-19. The 2017 Myanmar Living Conditions Survey (MLCS) reveals that 24.8 percent of the population was poor.[1] Urban poverty in 2015 was 14.5% according to Myanmar’s Urbanization Report of the World Bank. So, the Myanmar government is making the necessary effort to remedy the impact of COVID-19 from different aspects.

The Government has taken a number of concrete measures to ease the impact of COVID-19 on industries as well as households, including rolling out an electricity subsidy scheme across the country and distributing basic food items to people without regular income.  According to the released data in September 2020, the government provided a total of K1655 billion to community. [2]

Government assistance to community

No.TitleSubjectKyat Billion
1.Household Support1st time (5 Rations) 5.3 million 2nd time (Kyat 20,000 for 2 times) 5.4 million71.103 218.112
2.Household (3rd time)(Insurance of 20,000 kyats rate) 5.6 million113.535
3,Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement35.923
4.Exemption of Electricity ChargesApril, May, June  107.379
5.Electricity Charges in Taninthayi Region 1.518
6MFI loanMicrofinance sector100
7Health careMinistry of Health and Sports provides intensive care, personal protective equipment and healthcare services915.38
8Department of Rural Development (MOALI)Cash for work for rural populace92.6
 Total 1,655.55

(Source: Official sources)

Other supports

There is an underway plan to provide the loans to the people engaged in the film, music, theatre, periodical and media fields under separate programmes according to the committee to remedy the economic impacts caused by the pandemic.[3]

Since Myanmar confirmed its first COVID-19 cases in March 2020, volunteer groups across the country have helped local authorities and health workers to transport patients and prepare quarantine centers. In the response to the pandemic, the Myanmar government formed a new National Volunteer Steering Unit to systematically organize volunteers. According to the President Office, the new unit will track the number of volunteers at quarantine centers across the country, monitor the needs of quarantine centers, prepare free health care and medical checkups for volunteers and arrange preventive equipment, food, drinks and transportation for volunteers. [4]

Donation and support of well-wishers to the community in various means such as donation of test machines and testing equipment, food and medicines, support in quarantine centres and hospitals are also much effective to community.

Support for poor community

As one fourth of population in Myanmar are poor, COVID-19 affected poor communities. Poverty is related to rural residents, bigger household size with more young children, education level of household heads and main income earners, agro-based livelihood, disabled persons and limited access to infrastructure and market. Urban households have been affected by lost employment and lost income since May 2020. According to food security survey, many households are facing in security and adequate diet. COVID has also impact on negative education outcome. Since less than 20% households received government support, the government should plan for well-targeted and social assistance programs to cover all poor communities.[5]

[1] Myanmar Living Condition Survey 2017 by Central Statistical Organization

[2] The Global New Light of Myanmar (27.9.2020)

[3] The Global New Light of Myanmar (11.9.2020)

[4] The Irrawaddy (27.4.2020)

[5] Ending Poverty in Myanmar, World Bank Webinar 15 Oct 2020


Assistance and Support for COVID affected business and communities in Myanmar (3)

International assistance to Myanmar to response COVID

Assistance from other countries

In order to recover from the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the implementation of COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan (CERP) is estimated to cost US$2-3 billion. So, Myanmar is set to receive around US$2 billion from other countries as well as international organizations. In the early stage of COVID in June 2020, Myanmar received the loans of US$700 million from International Monetary Fund, $270 million from Japan, $250 million from the World Bank and $30 million from the Asian Development Bank, in total $1.25 billion. [1]Mobilization of funds from government budget and international assistance has reached over 4 trillion kyats (about US$ 3 billion) topping 3.4% of GDP.[2] Myanmar has to receive more than US$ one billion from other countries (government to government support) and UN and international organizations.

During April to October 2020, Myanmar receives over US$ 300 million in cash and other medical assistance from other countries to response COVID as follows;

  • Japan provided US $280 million on COVID-19 Crises Response Emergency Support Loan

On 1st September 2020, the Ambassador of Japan and the Deputy Minister for Planning, Finance and Industry of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar signed Exchange of Notes regarding COVID-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan (Investment Promotion and Financial Sector Development Program Loan) of 30 billion yen (approximately 280 million US dollars), with the aim to provide emergency budget support for the coronavirus crisis response in Myanmar. The repayment period of the loan is 40 years (including a 10-year grace period) with 0.01% interest rate per annum. [3]

In addition, the loan is the second financial support provided under the overall emergency support package for Myanmar, following 5 billion JPY low-cost financing for SMEs launched in June. In parallel with the implementation of such projects, JICA is working on the next emergency support project under the package in close cooperation with the Myanmar government to provide greater thrust to the recovery of the private sector and the livelihoods of the people.[4]

  • US$18.5 million support from U.S Government Health and Humanitarian Assistance

As one of the largest bilateral donors to Myanmar’s COVID-19 response, the U.S Government is providing more than US$18.5 million including approximately US$10.3 million for health and US$8.2 million in disaster and humanitarian assistance, including to support vulnerable people and host communities.

  • Support from EU

Six European Union states deferred debt payments from Myanmar worth nearly US$100 million for 2020 in July 2020 to help the country’s efforts to focus on economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. EU also set up Euro 5 million (Kyat 7.9 billion) emergency cash fund through Myan Ku project. The fund has supported over 5.4 billion kyats to over 70,000 garment and footwear workers.

  • Support from India

India also pledged to assistance to Myanmar to help treat the growing number of COVID-19 positive patients. At the meeting of 5th October 2020, India officials handed over 3,000 vitals of Remdesivir, an antiviral medication approved for the treatment of COVID-19.  [5]

  • Support from China

The Chinese government has donated medical supplies to Myanmar by four times to assist in the fight against COVID-19. The medical supplies included disposable masks, N95 masks, googles and personal protective equipment (PPEs).[6]

  • Support from Korea

The Export-Import Bank of Korea will provide US$ 30 million Emergency Equipment loan from its Economic Development Cooperation Fund (ECDF). The loan term is 40 years with 0.01% interest rate.

[1]   State Counsellors discusses remedies to lessen COVID-19 impacts on economy, Global New Light of Myanmar, 17 June 2020

[2] Election 2020: Key Issues for business webinar by AustCham and EuroCham Myanmar, 16 Oct 2020

[3] https://www.mm.emb-japan.go.jp/profile/english/press/20200901.html

[4] https://www.jica.go.jp/myanmar/english/office/topics/press200901.html

[5] Myanmar Times (6 October 2020)

[6] http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-06/09/c_139126200.htm


Assistance and Support for COVID affected business and communities in Myanmar (4)

International assistance to Myanmar to response COVID

Assistance from UN and international organizations

During April to October 2020, Myanmar receives over US$ 680 million in cash and other material assistance from UN and international organizations to response COVID as follows;

  • Support from UN organizations

More than 20 UN agencies in Myanmar are joining to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and support the organization’s efforts to protect lives and boost livelihoods. These efforts have involved technical and capacity building support, including delivery of 95,000 test kits to scale-up testing capacities, provision of personal protective equipment (PPE), support to migrant workers returning from abroad and socio-economic and livelihoods support. The United Nations emergency agency World Food Programme (WFP), one of the UN in Myanmar agencies, has provided food and nutrition to tens of thousands of people affected by COVID-19 in Myanmar. WFP has teamed up with the Government to provide food and nutrition assistance to the migrants who have arrived Myanmar which contributes to a well-organized quarantine management system. In July, WFP has provided nutritious meals for 41,500 returning migrants upon their arrival through various border gates, and for 43,000 in quarantine sites in Kachin, Kayin, Mon and Shan states; as well as Ayeyarwaddy, Bago, Magway, Tanitharyi and Yangon regions. [1]

  • International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved US$ 356 million emergency assistance

IMF Executive Board Approves a US$ 356.5 Million Disbursement to Myanmar to address the COVID-19 Pandemic. To address the urgent balance-of-payments and fiscal needs, the IMF has approved US$ 356.5 million emergency assistance for Myanmar under the Rapid Credit Facility and the Rapid Financing Instrument.

  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a US $250 million loan

On 21st August,2020, The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a $250 million loan to help the Government of Myanmar respond to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic by mitigating the impacts on people’s health, livelihoods, and the economy, while also ensuring that the poor and vulnerable benefit from the country’s economic recovery.

Moreover, as safe piped water with better sanitation and hygiene is critical in controlling the spread of COVID-19, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a US $180 million loan to develop and upgrade the water supply system in Yangon.[2]

  • US$ 50 million credit from the World Bank for the Myanmar COVID-19 Emergency Response Project

In April 2020, the World Bank approved a US$50 million loan for the Myanmar COVID-19 Emergency Response Project to help Myanmar fill a critical gap in its contingency plan to urgently increase hospital preparedness and surge capacity in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, protect health workers, and treat patients. [3]

  • The U.S Agency for International Development (USAID)/ Burma support

Since February 2020, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)/ Burma provided a total of US$ 8.3 million in Heath funding for COVID-19 activities. In April and May 2020, USAID provided US$ 6.5 million in COVID supplemental funding to the multi-donor Access to Health Fund. USAID assistance through this fund has already supported 350 health facilities and community quarantine centers and facilitated reaching 135,275 people through community-based surveillance work including contact tracing and fever testing.

Moreover, USAID allocated US$ 1.8 million of its Emergency Response Fund to Myanmar through existing global agreements with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and the Breakthrough Action activity, implemented in Myanmar by Save the Children, for health activities beginning in late March. In addition, USAID donated 31,500 surgical masks, 1,500 each of face shields, face masks, gowns, and shoe covers and 1,000 safety goggles. [4]

  • US$ 15.8 million support from Livelihoods and Food Security Fund

Livelihoods and Food Security Fund LIFT has announced funding of USD 15.8 million to support Myanmar’s COVID-19 preparedness and response. The funding is estimated to benefit 5.9 million people in Myanmar at a time when the country is making urgent preparations to respond to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. LIFT’s assistance will be delivered through a front-line response by its implementing partners and it focuses on supporting the most vulnerable: migrants, the elderly, internally displaced people, pregnant women and those with children under the age of two. LIFT’s donors are the United Kingdom, the European Union, Switzerland, Australia, the United States of America, Canada and Ireland. [5]

Myanmar Economic Recovery and Reform Plan (MERRP)

Myanmar Economic Recovery and Reform Plan (MERRP) is a new, comprehensive and inclusive medium-to longer-term plan, being developed by the government to achieve speedy recovery of Myanmar economy. The plan consists of six goals, 16 strategies and 135 action plans. Myanmar needs more support from International organizations and other countries for the implementation of the MERRP.

[1] United Nations in Myanmar (15 July 2020)

[2] Asian Development Bank (21 August 2020)

[3] The World Bank (29 September 2020)

[4]  U.S. Embassy in Burma (21 July 2020)

[5] Relief Web (9 April 2020)


Changing Business Model During and After COVID Crisis in Selected Industries (1)

Impact of COVID-19 and Business Sector Respond to Crisis

All ASEAN countries are suffering from the socio-economic impact of the Covid-19. In the early stages of the pandemic, the rapid spread of the virus in China led to the disruption of supply chains and freezing demand limiting the flows of travel, trade, and investment. As the rate of infection increased in Southeast Asia, the impact of the pandemic brought immediate interruption in all sectors of the economic activity, primarily by containment measures imposed through lockdowns, community quarantines, temporary business and school closures, necessary social protection for the vulnerable population and measures to further assist SMEs and other affected firms, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Containment Measures in ASEAN Member States

   Source: OECD

Governments of the ASEAN Member States imposed strict domestic containment measures. The restriction of large-scale events, restaurants and travel, as well as school closures and lockdowns are having a negative impact on economic activities. These lockdown measures, although to a different scale and scope, imposed by the ASEAN countries are slowing down or even stopping economic activities in certain sectors, having a ripple effect to others. Other western countries were also significantly affected by the outbreak, including the US and the EU, are also among the region’s largest trade and investment partners. The WTO has estimated that world trade is expected to fall by between 13% and 32% in 2020, exceeding the decline brought on by the Global Financial Crisis.[1]

Since the COVID-19 crisis struck, organizations in vulnerable sectors worldwide have seen their revenues drop substantially in a matter of weeks. Countless companies have taken reactive steps to ward off major losses, such as establishing remote work arrangements, securing supply chains, reducing employee workload, cutting costs, and applying for government support. One of the business sector responses to COVID-19 was offering the same (or similar) products and services through an online channel, which occurred through the digitization of physical products or through a technology-mediated delivery solution. Another response was by companies and factories which took advantage of market demand by deploying existing infrastructure to produce different products or to offer new types of services. Suddenly struggling to meet the demand for their products and services, some companies needed to quickly maximize their infrastructure to increase production and delivery capacity. As a response, a number of organizations worldwide are changing their business models and taking inventive steps to find new infrastructure and collaborate with external partners to increase their production or delivery capacity amid Covid-19. For example, Amazon hired an additional 100,000 employees in the United States to meet increased demand from homebound online shoppers, so it partnered with the ride-booking company Lyft. Lyft was encouraging its drivers to pursue positions as warehouse workers, delivery people, or grocery shoppers to earn additional income, and applications for Amazon positions are available through the Lyft driver web portal.[2]

[1] COVID-19 crisis responses in ASEAN Member States. OECD

[2] Three Response Strategies to COVID-19 Business Challenges, MIT Sloan  Management Review


Changing Business Model During and After COVID Crisis in Selected Industries (2)

Changing Business Model during COVID-19 Crisis

All the companies and businesses in all sectors have to be predictive and proactive in their decision-making to preserve business continuity and build enterprise resilience. According to the EY, the immediate responses and implementing plans by the businesses and companies worldwide during the Covid-19 pandemic are as follow.[1]

Source: MMR/ Ref: EY

  • Prioritizing employee and customer safety with continuous engagement

Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the employees in the workplace is essential as it would help to engaging and reassuring the business continuity plan (BCP). One of the adjustments companies make is to initiate or expand flexible work arrangements and other policies that allow people to work remotely and safely. Depending on the sector, companies reorganize teams and reallocate resources, and establish employee wellbeing programs and policies that support a safe working environment. Additionally, companies produce regular communications that align with current government and health authorities’ policies to help employees remain engaged as they and the organization navigate through the crisis.

  • Developing strategy for business continuity plan (BCP)

Most businesses were experienced significant disruption to their business-as-usual operations and faced business underperformance throughout the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. To responses this, companies and businesses evaluated short-term liquidity, assessed financial and operational risks, considered alternative supply chain options and determine how the COVID-19 crisis affects budgets and business plans.

  • Communicating with relevant stakeholders

Clear, transparent and timely communications are necessary when creating a platform to reshape the business and to secure ongoing support from customers, employees, suppliers, creditors, investors, government and regulators.

  • Applying the government support programs

Government from ASEAN nations has released several financial, social insurance and tax-related policies to support companies. Companies identified and determined which support from the government is best for their organization.

  • Planning for business recovery

Companies made decisions and took actions during crisis with recovery in mind. Companies plan to reshape their business strategy to thrive in the future when the crisis is over.

Covid-19 also accelerate the developing new business models and improving risk management process, restoring the supply chain management, promoting the digital platform applications, and producing customized products and services are included in the changes of business models in the medium-term.

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the drivers of technology were focused on cost reduction and productivity. The goal was to make well run businesses run better. As businesses adapt to the new realities caused by COVID-19, the roles of technology will be a critical for developing the long-term business model changes as follow, according to the SAP survey developed by the South Asia Press Room.[2]

  • Achieve resiliency – to steer the company through challenging times with agility.
  • Deliver profitability – with transparency across both the top and bottom line, supporting business growth and increased productivity and
  • Act sustainably – by reducing carbon footprint, minimizing waste and transitioning to the circular economy.

Adapting and aligning marketing, sales and customer service techniques will be vital if businesses are to survive in the future. Smart businesses will align insights and behavior data across teams to build a digital picture of their prospects and customers. Digital led businesses will be data driven and would not be focused on aligning their processes internally.  In the Longer term, companies will need to consider how robust their business, management team and initiatives were in facing the crisis. It will also be important to consider and reset the business assumptions that support the supply chain and other concentrations that many businesses have been exposed to over time.

[1] COVID-19 business continuity plan: Five ways to reshape, EY

[2] Businesses must ‘innovate and transform’ post Covid-19 disruption to be competitive, South East Asia Press Room


Changing Business Model During and After COVID Crisis in Selected Industries (3)

Changes and Development of Business Models in ICT Sector

The ICT sector has the potential to be one of the more resilient segments and would rise again quickly. The sector does not appear to have been as badly hit as others. In the immediate days and weeks after the Covid-19 crisis hit, most of the companies have changed to digitize at least some part of their business to protect employees and serve customers facing mobility restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The crisis has stimulated company observations and the need for businesses to re-evaluate near-term and long-term supply chains, resource deployment, and liquidity. Major technology companies have ceased marketing operations, canceled essential events and conferences, and announced financial results below market expectations. For example, Microsoft lowered its revenue estimates in the quarter ended March 2020 due to the impact of the epidemic with lower sales of Windows software and surface devices.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, there was historic deployment of remote work and digital access to services across every domain as part of plan to change the business models. Most B2B, G2B and G2G meetings are online. People use all types of teleconferencing such as audio, audio graphic, computer, video, business television (BTV), and distance education etc. Banks have transitioned to remote sales and service teams and launched digital outreach to customers to make flexible payment arrangements for loans and mortgages. Grocery stores have shifted to online ordering and delivery as their primary business. Schools in many locales have pivoted to 100 percent online learning and digital classrooms. Doctors have begun delivering telemedicine, aided by more flexible regulation. Manufacturers are actively developing plans for lights-out manufacturing which are fully automated and require no human presence on-site. Thus, players in ICT industry shifted their business models in targeted customers by directly providing ICT services to all players from various industries which are in need of computing platforms to operate their businesses. In the short-term, ICT players are providing a lot of the tools to enable companies, schools, hospitals, etc. to operate remotely and there has been a huge push to make that happen. For the longer term, companies are holding discussions and engaging with their customers to work out what more robust, sustainable solutions ought to be implemented.[1]   

  Source: MMR

As a common, ICT companies reduce the cost base and capital of their operations, supply chains, and organizations overall and to transition their fixed costs to variable costs aggressively wherever possible. Many organizations have shifted to remote-working models almost overnight. A remote-first setup allows companies to mobilize global expertise instantly, organize a project review with 20 or 200 people immediately, and respond to customer inquiries more rapidly by providing everything from product information to sales and after-sales support digitally. In effect, remote ways of working have driven the faster execution and this step change in remote adoption is now important enough to reconsider current business models, according to the McKinsey. Moreover, companies have already launched analytics and artificial-intelligence (AI) initiatives in their operations. Companies have laid out an agenda that focuses on four efforts: refocusing and accelerating digital investments in response to evolving customer needs, using new data and AI to improve business operations, selectively modernizing technology capabilities to boost development velocity, and increasing organizational agility to deliver more quickly.[2]

While the major impact in ICT industry is expected to be on Hardware business, the Software and Services businesses are also expected to slow down as the spread of Coronavirus goes beyond the boundaries of Asia. Thus, the ICT companies are focusing on the adoption of collaborative applications, security solutions, cloud services, big data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) which have huge potentials to see big growth in the future.[3] Meantime, ICT companies are strategically looking for funding and investment over the next six months as institutions focus on existing portfolios, and waiting to see the longer-term impact of the economic shock. As ICT companies need funding and investment for the long-term to operate businesses, they are reorganizing to form the quality management team and develop new business plan to attract the investors. In addition, ICT companies apply business models that support changes to the way companies work, such as working from home, virtual meetings, online consultations, and the accelerated use of data to allow businesses to be more agile. On the other hand, well capitalized ICT companies are accelerating their strategic plans through acquisition.

Furthermore, ICT companies are changing their business model to focus on providing technology services such as digital media, Over the Top (OTT) content players, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), Big Data, Cyber security, and Data security technologies which would become rapid growth as most workforces are operating remotely. In addition, most of the ICT business are more investing on providing cloud services which is significantly growing due to the higher usage of content, gaming downloads, video conferencing, and the impact of remote access to corporate networks. For example, Huawei, equipment maker, recently posted a surge in its technological services comprising AI, video conferencing, and wireless network coverage across the Asia Pacific, given the on-ground communication challenges to ensure smooth connectivity.[4]

As the Covid-19 pandemic increases the reliance on digital technologies, the ICT sector expects the growth opportunities. ICT firms are anticipating introducing new services, products and solutions as part of plan developing new business model. ICT companies in the sector are substantially investing in their digital strategy and balancing short-term efforts with long-term measure along with practical steps such as refreshing plans, updating employee policies, communicating frequently, and carrying out succession planning. Even though businesses are struggling with current losses, the ICT industry might be one of the few sectors which would be growing in the long run.

[1] How new Covid-19 realities impact ICT sector M&A, Comms Dealer

[2] The COVID-19 recovery will be digital: A plan for the first 90 days, McKinsey Digital

[3] How Covid-19 will change and open new opportunities for ICT Industry, Industrial Automation India

[4] COVID-19: Consequences and opportunities for the ICT sector, Fractal


Changing Business Model During and After COVID Crisis in Selected Industries (4)

Changes and Development of Business Models in Food and Beverage Sector

Covid-19 is having a profound effect on the business world. Recent community lockdown and quarantine in many countries have forced people to stay home, which have dramatically reshaped the food and beverage sector by surging the demand for retailers and decreasing for food service. During the Covid-19 pandemic, disruption in supply-chain has forced businesses to search for alternative delivery routes and types of products. According to Reuters, a decline in air traffic, as well as world-wide enforced quarantines have reduced the capacity for companies to move fresh produce long distances, which have caused issues for both farmers with product they cannot move and importers needing raw materials.[1] Some food & beverage businesses that are able to keep up with demands have been doing very well, when startups, which usually can adapt faster to the changes, are having an advantage when they seek and obtain funding. Some changes in the Asia food and beverage industry is as follow:

(a) Packaged-food businesses, retail services and online sales are on the rise while the restaurants’ revenues have decreased substantially.

(b)  Restaurants have been forced to rely solely on takeout and delivery options rather than dine-in customers for revenue, which has changed many of their business models.

 (c)   Smaller manufacturers are being shutout as large retailers are not placing orders with them and are instead focusing on big orders from larger manufactures to satisfy customer demands.

Source: MMR

While online grocery sales are growing rapidly, it cannot take additional demand because of the logistics capacity. Businesses are trying to resolve the rapid increase in the number of orders and shortage of labor to fulfill these orders. One of the significant business model changes in food & beverage sector is that liquor companies re-directed their production lines to manufacture sanitizer hand sanitizer to supply the rising market demand. Furthermore, food and beverage businesses alter shifts to around-the-clock, take new safety precautions, change product mixes, increase delivery options and redefine business as usual. With these measures, the food and beverage industry has adapted at a rapid pace, responding with ideas and plans to protect employees and customers, and keep up with demand.

Additionally, many businesses changed the way to reach their customers by selling through via mobile order-and-pay system along with free delivery services.  Stores and restaurants found that they could no longer rely on their old business models, so they changed from traditional sales to online selling. Supplier such as farmers began selling direct to consumers, although some simply dumped produce, creating images of a severed supply chain. Manufacturers stepped up to shift production for safety and medical equipment, while grocers started working around the clock to restock shelves, and big food companies shifted production to meet the needs of the public.[2]Most of businesses are trying their best to keep staff as long as they can by utilizing them to perform multiple functions such as delivering, cooking and cleaning.  For example, PepsiCo, Mondelez and Hormel Foods are a few among the businesses rewarding their workers with bonuses, additional leave time and raises. As for the workplace safety, stores and manufacturers took precautions to protect their workforce and customers. Restaurants and retailers are also limiting the number of shoppers permitted through their doors at any one time, with monitors managing lines at three or six feet intervals.

As people have adapted to working from home, business in food & beverage industry are also establishing D2C (Direct to Consumer) delivery and investing in food delivery directly to homes and offices is a key growth area during the Covid-19 pandemic. Using digital and online platform becomes the main strategy for most of the food % beverage companies. For example, Carlsberg Malaysia is pinning its hopes on digital marketing and e-commerce to recover from huge revenue and profit drops suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak. In hopes of recovering from this revenue decline, Carlsberg Malaysia has opted to shift focus away from the traditional on-trade channel such as coffee shops despite this having customarily always been its strongest performer, and focus on digital efforts instead.[3]Moreover, it has planned to optimize its cost saving measures, building on an existing business strategy along with other initiatives such as offering limited-edition packaging promotion, changing the packaging styles to attract the customers, and take away services.

Thus, continuing the business successfully in amid and post Covid-19 pandemic will depend on the each company’s ability to shift with the demand for current products needed in the market with changes and development of the new business models. Food & beverages companies and businesses which can survive in the crisis are the one which can develop the adaptive business model by fulfilling the customer demand with effective and innovative ways such as offering free online food delivery services to customers, making value added products, and changing the production line to manufacture products which have huge market demand.

[1] Changes in Food and Beverage Industry, Green Hasson Janks

[2] Food And Beverage Companies Evolve, Innovate And Contribute Amid COVID-19 Crisis, Forbes

[3] Carlsberg Malaysia pins hopes on e-commerce after Covid-19 sinks financials, Food Navigator Asia


Changing Business Model During and After COVID Crisis in Selected Industries (5)

Changes and Development of Business Models in Garment and Fashion Sector

Covid-19 pandemic has shaken the global fashion industry which is worth US$ 2.5 trillion by destabilizing the whole supply chain. The industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Billions of dollars of clothing orders placed with manufacturers around the world have been cancelled. COVID-19 has exposed a fundamental weakness in the traditional fashion system: matching supply and demand. Industry leaders have aware that the old way of doing businesses, for example, seasonally manufacturing items abroad without any advance customer feedback and then these items sell in retail stores around the world does not work. Thus, apparel and fashion companies have put their assets to good use in the crisis, for example, turning over their factories to make face masks or hand sanitizer, donating products and services to healthcare workers, or helping employees find temporary roles with companies that are hiring. Industry expert in apparel and fashion sector assume that on-demand manufacturing is an important part of the plan of changing business model during Covid-19 pandemic. Major players believe that there would be no inventory, no fabric waste, and no warehousing if the major players practice the on-demand manufacturing in the garment and fashion sector. On-demand production allows fashion brands to reduce their upfront cash need and minimize excess inventory. Therefore, top players in the industry are changing their business model with both economical and sustainable plan.[1]

Meanwhile, the common immediate responses of apparel and fashion companies during Covid-19 pandemic are – (a) lead with compassion and protect the employee (b) manage the cash flow (c) review in-year inventory position and assess the supply chain (d) increase digital marketing and online platform and (e) maintain decent connections with consumers. As the plan for medium term, companies anticipate on preparation of reopening stores which were closed in huge amount, reassessing merchandising plans for fall 2020 and spring 2021, and connecting with brand loyalists. For the long-term plan, many companies in the sector focus on developing the portfolio and financial resilience, building their operating model around digital and Omni-channel marketing, and anticipating shifts in consumer sentiment and behavior.[2]

Source: MMR/ Ref: McKinsey

As for the garment sector, development of a new business model by Bangladeshi apparel makers would be relevant and applicable for other ASEAN nations during the pandemic. The new business model state that suppliers and buyers will hold similar responsibility for placing orders and buyers will contribute to purchasing raw materials to avoid the order cancelation.

Source: RMG Bagladesh

As a way to save bank charges, almost all brands/retailers have stopped working through irrevocable letters of credit which are usually called “Master LC.” Instead, they have started the practice of using sales contracts or purchase orders. An irrevocable letter of credit is a financial instrument used by banks to guarantee a buyer’s obligations to a manufacturer. It is irrevocable because the letter of credit cannot be modified unless all parties agree to the modifications. In addition, brands and retailers or clients need to engage in financial investment in the supply chain.[3]

[1] How Fashion Manufacturing Will Change After The Coronavirus, Forbes                                                                   

[2] Perspectives for Fashion Industry in a time of crisis, McKinsey

[3] Covid-19 pandemic: New business model a must for the sustainable fashion industry, RMG Bangladesh


Changing Business Model During and After COVID Crisis in Selected Industries (6)

Business Model Changes and Recommendations for Businesses in Myanmar

Rapid growing of COVID cases in Myanmar and the global COVID-19 pandemic is dealing a severe blow to Myanmar’s economy and business sector. Economic growth in a baseline scenario is projected to drop from 6.8 percent in FY18/19 to just 0.5 percent in FY2019/20, according to the World Bank’s Myanmar Economic Monitor. All restrictions together clearly have negative impacts on businesses and socio-economic sectors, including international trade (border, air and maritime). As various containment measures were imposed, companies located in the main business hubs ensure that employees were able to work remotely. Some firms in Yangon began to trial work from home policies in mid-March, following the lead of international companies with remote working experience. By the end of that month, the list of firms allowing at least part of their workforce to operate from home included banks, media outlets and telecoms operators. Working remotely in Myanmar has been made more feasible in recent years by expanding internet access: the total number of internet users rose from 18m, or 33.1% of the population, in July 2019, to 22.2m, or 40.8%, in January 2020 and it is believed to increase more in July 2020.[1]

These factors led to the development of the digital economy in Myanmar, with the pandemic leading to the businesses rising online sales. Grocers, pharmacies, and e-commerce marketplaces are sustaining consumer access to essentials food, medication, toiletries, and others via online. Thus, most of the retail and service businesses in Myanmar shifted to online and digital purchasing. Consumers who would like to avoid going crowded area and direct interactions orders foods and other products via online, so smaller retailers and brands are having opportunity to deliver goods and take online orders. For those businesses which does not set-up with solid E-commerce capabilities can reach consumers and take orders through social platforms such as Viber, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook accounts and local Facebook pages.

With COVID-19, people are cooking more at home. As a result, the supply may shift more towards local producers, whose focus was mainly on the grocery stores, rather than more exotic foods that are often ordered by restaurants. This may also find the support from the government to secure the production of the essential product within the county borders as a precaution to secure the supply chain in case of future pandemics. Farmers began selling direct to consumers, although some simply dumped produce, creating images of a severed supply chain. Hence, investing in food delivery directly to homes and offices is a key growth area in Myanmar, as people have adapted to working from home and establishing D2C (Direct to Consumer) delivery will be likely be prevailing trends even after COVID-19. Due to the rising e-commerce activity, there is also huge demand for the warehouse services.

For the garment sector, it is recommended that manufactures must attract the foreign investors by number of certified green factories and the apparel makers have invested a lot in technology to make the industry sustainable in terms of environment and labor rights. Meanwhile, government should provide technological support to the local companies and businesses for producing value added services and products to substitute the imported goods and products.

The future of businesses circumstances in the post-pandemic period would be a lot different from the old situations. The expected Covid 19 -driven macro trends would be look like as the following:

Source: OC&C Consultants

[1] The post-Covid-19 future of Myanmar’s office market, Oxford Business Group


Impact of Covid-19 on Myanmar and Potential Industry Sectors, July 2020 (1)

COVID-19 and World Economy

The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2).[1] The outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Then, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30 January 2020, and a pandemic on 11 March. As of 30 July 2020, more than 16.8 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in more than 188 countries and territories, resulting in more than 662,000 deaths; more than 7.37 million people have recovered. (WHO Report)

Starting from mainland China, the pandemic spread across the world, killing people in the North America, Europe, Asia and Latin American and pulling the world economy down.  The pandemic has spread with alarming speed, infecting millions and bringing economic activity to a near-standstill as countries imposed tight restrictions on movement to halt the spread of the virus.

The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on emerging market economies far exceeded that of the global financial crisis. According to the World Bank, the coronavirus pandemic has taken a devastating toll on the global economy, and the global economic growth is forecasted to shrink by 5.2 percent in 2020 when the IMF said it shrink by 3 percent. Advanced economies are anticipated to shrink 7 percent when the emerging and developing economies will shrink by 2.5 percent.

The economic impacts have been even more severe as emerging market economies were hit by multiple shocks. Particularly hit are tourism-dependent countries due to a decline in travel and oil exporters as commodity prices dropped down. With global trade and oil prices projected to drop by more than 10 percent and 40 percent respectively, emerging market economies are likely to face massive struggles.[2] Moreover, the situation of global stock markets raises serious concerns as the stock prices seem to be dropped down since the beginning of the crisis.

Many people have lost their jobs or seen their incomes cut due to the coronavirus crisis. Unemployment rates have increased across major economies as a result. Millions of workers have also been put on government-supported job retention schemes as parts of the economy, such as tourism or hospitality, came to a standstill under lockdown. Even in the countries with low unemployment levels presently, there are no guarantees that employers can avoid layoffs after the wage supports end, but all of these countries have seemingly traversed the worst wave of peak COVID-19 deaths and cases, and they are gradually re-opening.

The decline of World Economy due the Covid-19 pandemic is the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s, according to the IMF. The travel industry has been badly damaged, with airlines cutting flights and customers cancelling business trips and holidays as many countries introduced travel restrictions to try to contain the virus.

According to OECD, the GDP declines more than 20% and a surge in unemployment in many countries. Even in countries where containment measures have been relatively light, early data are already making clear that the economic and social costs of the pandemic will be large. Growth prospects depend on many factors, including how COVID-19 evolves, the duration of any shutdowns, the impact on activity, and the implementation of fiscal and monetary policy support. In the wake of the Global Crisis, uncertainty in the world economy led many firms to reassess their business models.[3] Rather than relying on global supply chains, an increasing number of firms invested in robots and advance technologies.  

[1] Naming the Coronavirus disease (Covid-19), WHO

[2] COVID-19 Response in Emerging Market Economies: Conventional Policies and Beyond, IMF

[3] OECD Economic Outlook June 2020


Impact of Covid-19 on Myanmar and Potential Industry Sectors, July 2020 (2)

Impact of COVID-19 to Myanmar economy

The coronavirus was confirmed to have reached Myanmar on 23 March 2020. As of 31 July 2020, about 353 confirmed cases have been reported in Myanmar and resulting as 6 deaths and 295 recovered, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS).

Since the world economy is slow down as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic in worldwide, the growth of Myanmar’s economy also drastically declined due to its major trade partners in Asia and Europe are at risk for economic recession due the virus impacts.

Initially, economic growth is expected to reach 6.4% in 2019-2020 FY due to the growing investment in the transport and telecommunication sectors and government’s planned infrastructure spending before the 2020 elections, according to the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry (MOPFI) and the World Bank. Myanmar had strong performance in the first six month period from October 2019 to April 2020 and its GDP growth rate was estimated to 6.3%.

However, the GDP growth for Myanmar will likely slow down significantly to 4.2% in 2019-20 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but if the virus is confined quickly, it would recover to 6.8% in 2021, according to the Asia Development Bank (ADB). Meanwhile, the World Bank has downgraded Myanmar’s GDP growth forecast for 2019-20 fiscal year to 0.5% percent down from 6.4%,[1]  as all sectors are hit, with adverse effects of varying intensity projected across all sectors.

Among the various sectors which are highly affected by the Covid-19 impacts in Myanmar, Tourism, Cut-Make-Package (CMP), and Small-Medium-Enterprises (SME), are in high vulnerability. People in poor conditions are impacted by the loss income and negative impacts of the economy. The net profits of private banks went negative for the first time in a decade as their ability to lend at a profit is severely limited by high interest rates required by the Central Bank of Myanmar, according to the World Bank.

Still, Myanmar has seen a moderate domestic impact from the global COVID-19 due to its reliance on international trade, investment and technology. Export volumes for simple manufactured goods have seen the biggest impact. The garment sector, which employs over 700,000 workers and accounts for $4.6 billion in export revenue, has faced both supply and demand shocks and Myanmar exports 70% of garment products to European countries. China supplies 90 percent of raw materials for the sector; however, exports to Myanmar were halted between January and March. Just as supplies were returning to normal in April, demand for Myanmar garment products collapsed.[2] According to the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, more than 60,000 factory workers in Myanmar have already lost their jobs since the start of the crisis, including those working in the garment factories that supply some of the world’s biggest fashion brands. About 175 factories stopped operations and 105 factories have not been able to pay wages to the workers yet, according to the Myanmar Times on 28 April 2020. Many garment factories have reduced working hours and cut jobs, while some have permanently or temporarily shut down. Without new orders, many factories will be forced to reduce their workforce and working hours, and close either temporarily or permanently.

Meanwhile, the foreign investment sector is unable to provide the desired investment flows. Outbreaks in key investment partners have already caused delays to projects valued in the billions of dollars. Most of the foreign investors and infrastructure developers has been suffering financial losses due to the outbreak and scaling back on the planned projects. However, investments are unlikely to be enough to rise up the entire economy and Myanmar must formulate a medium-term economic plan to deal with the uncertainty in the future.

According to the World Bank, the COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted Myanmar’s economic expansion, and while Myanmar is expected to narrowly escape a recession, helped by a strong start to the fiscal year, policy responses, and the limited disease outbreak, the growth recovery is at great risk.

[1] Myanmar Economic Monitor June 2020, World Bank Myanmar

[2] Covid-19 Threatens Myanmar’s Economy, The Diplomat


Impact of Covid-19 on Myanmar and Potential Industry Sectors, July 2020 (3)

Impacts of COVID 19 on Myanmar Business Sector

The impacts of COVID-19 on Myanmar businesses shows that nearly two-thirds of businesses expect to face cash flow problems and the majority of the businesses are operating with lower turnover, according to the Asia Foundation. The survey developed by The Asia Foundation, backed by the DaNa Facility and aid from the UK, revealed on June 8, 2020 that the businesses in the survey estimated that they require about 18 million kyats (US$12,851) in additional cash flow in order to survive until September 2020. The survey also estimated that as a nationwide, businesses need an additional 900 billion to 2.1 trillion kyats (US$642 million-1.5 billion), equivalent to 0.7-1.7% of the International Monetary Fund ’s (IMF) projection of Myanmar’s GDP for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

That survey is a nationwide poll of 750 local businesses and is the largest survey so far of the impact of the pandemic which covered the two weeks ending May 10. During that period, 29% had completely closed and 92% reported lower sales due to Covid-19, with 74% losing more than half of sales. The key reasons for reducing operations or closing were employee safety and lack of customers[1]. The manufacturing sectors for textiles, apparel and leather as well as the accommodation sector are among the industries facing the highest levels of risk. Additionally, accommodation and food and beverage services were also suffering because potential national and international customers have been unable to travel. The government’s instructions to people to stay home and avoid gathering in groups of more than five have had a particularly large impact on the food and beverage sector, according to the survey. The retail and wholesale industry reported facing relatively smaller risks to its survival. The profitability of enterprises were declined and it was reported that only 22 percent being profitable due to the Covid-19 impacts.

The Asia Foundation survey found that businesses had laid off on average 16% of their employees due to Covid-19. With many small businesses yet to access government funding, many could run out of cash soon. Among the composition of the laid-off employees due to Covid-19 impacts, the non-executive and non-managerial employees of the companies such as manual rank and file employees are the most with 84% while the technicians follows with 10%. Only a few amounts of accountants, supervisors and managers are laid-off during this covid-19 period, according to the Asia Foundation.

Moreover, 9 out of 10 businesses in Myanmar are severely affected by the Covid-19 impacts according to the Business Sentiment Survey released by the Myanmar Marketing Research & Development (MMRD). MMRD has conducted online survey and face to face interviews to around 2,000 businesses in Myanmar, and the survey on 30 June 2020 revealed that about 94% of the businesses replied their businesses are running in poor situation.

Businesses from export sector were also largely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic according to the “Myanmar COVID-19 Impact Survey” conducted by the Market Research Association of Myanmar and International Trade Centre (ITC) in May 2020. Nearly 300 exporters, which are operating in the 12 priority sectors of the National Export Strategy (NES) 2020-2025, were surveyed and it was reported that all the companies interviewed were affected by the pandemic and its containment measures in varying degrees. Nearly 30% of the businesses were strongly affected, while 46% were moderately affected. The tourism sector was hit the most, followed by the textile and garment sector, and micro-businesses with less than five employees were disproportionately affected. Resulting from the containment measures and lockdown order, many companies had to reduce the logistics services and shut down the businesses temporarily. Delays due to increased border checks/closures, additional sanitary regulations/procedures, logistics arrangements, shipping, new circulars and temporary measures from the Covid-19 Control and Emergency Response Committee were the most cited issues according to the survey.

Small businesses are essential for Myanmar’s economy to recover fast from the pandemic as the economic growth is forecasted to slow down to the 0.5% in 2019-2020 FY. Meantime, Covid-19 is threatening to devastate Myanmar’s business community, especially the developing MSMEs, which are the backbone of the economy and main drivers in the economic recovery. Thus, it is recommended to increase more of the publicity of government policies and schemes to support MSMEs, and to encourage businesses and banks to actively seek an agreement to restructure loan interest and principal payments, according to the Asia Foundation.

[1] Covid-19 shuts down a third of Myanmar businesses, Myanmar Times


Impact of Covid-19 on Myanmar and Potential Industry Sectors, July 2020 (4)

Government Measures to response COVID-19

In order to tackle the socio and economic issues resulted by the coronavirus pandemic in Myanmar, government and stakeholders from private sectors are cooperating and attempting to recover the country’s economy with relief plans and business models. This pandemic has extensively disrupted economic activities and it is expected to have a long-term impact on various sectors.

The coronavirus was confirmed to have reached Myanmar on 23 March 2020. On 31 March, the Committee for Corona Virus Disease 19 (COVID-19), headed by Vice President-1 and made up of members from the various union ministries, was formed by the President to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Myanmar.[1]

To relieve the impact on the country’s economy, the government announced a series of stimulus packages in late March, including a COVID-19 fund for small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and textile and tourism businesses. The government also announced a deferral of commercial taxes and quarterly income taxes as well as exemptions from the 2 percent advance income tax on exports. The deadline for payment of income tax, which is due on 31 March and 30 June 2020, has been extended to 30 September 2020 for the most affected sectors such as hotel & tourism, manufacturing, and SMEs. Similarly, the deadline for payment of commercial tax, due from 31 March to 31 August, is also extended until 30 September, 2020.

On 18 March, the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry (MoPFI) announced the establishment of the Covid-19 Fund to help boost the economy. The initial 100 billion Myanmar Kyats (50 billion from Revolving Fund, and 50 billion from Social Security Board Fund), equivalent to approx. EUR 64.5 million, will be managed by the Myanmar Economic Bank. The fund is to provide support, in the form of low-interest loans, to the business sectors that are most affected by Covid-19 such as Cut-Make-Pack (CMP – i.e. garment companies), Hotel & Tourisms and SMEs. The fund is aimed to help the local business owners run the business and be able to pay wages. The loan with 1% interest rate will be available for one year. On 19 March 2020, the Ministry of Health and Sports issued guidelines with instructions for factories and workplaces to prevent infections of Covid-19. [2]

On 27 April, the government launched the ‘Overcoming as one: Covid-19 Economic Relief Plan’ which includes seven short term goals to be completed before the end of year. This includes the plans to provide monetary stimulus packages, exemption of tax and fees, easing the strains on banking sector and affected firms, promoting investment and international trade. For labour and workers, the plan is to provide health care benefits including medical and travel benefits for unemployed workers registered under the Social Security Board from six months to one year from the date of unemployment.

The Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population (MoLIP) has provided social security benefits to a total of 26,305 workers of factories, workshops and workplaces affected by the restrictions against COVID-19 pandemic on 26 May 2020. As part of a move to contain the spread of COVID-19, all local factories had to close from 20 April to 15 May for mandatory inspections by the ministry concerned. Garment factories are allowed to reopen only after inspection, because they are not listed under ‘essential businesses’. Workers from those factories who registered for social security under the Social Welfare Program will receive 40 percent of their salaries for the unemployed days in accordance with the Social Security Law.[3]

On 6 July 2020, the MoPFI announced the government’s decision to provide additional 100 billion Kyats to the “Covid-19 Fund” which had set up in April 2020 to assist local businesses which are the most adversely affected by the covid-19 situation. The MoPFI also notified that the special loans with the 1% interest rate for 1 year have been made available by the government as a measure for the businesses to survive in the Covid-19 period. The additional loan would be granted as priority to the businesses in the agriculture and livestock sectors.

Currently, the government has allocated about 101 billion Kyats in loan to the 3,393 businesses which conform to the specifications in announcement dated 29 March 2020 of the work committee by diving into seven times.

Allocation of Financial Assistance and Loan to the Affected Businesses

No.BusinessQuantityAmount (Kyat mln)Percentage
1CMP (garment)456,3126.24%
2CMP (others)2750.07%
3Hotels34015,72115.55%
4Tour Industry2363,7573.72%
5Restaurants2205,1825.12%
6MSME for foodstuffs, commodities, Products manufacturing industry and services2,55070,08169.30%
 Total Amount3,393101,128100.00%

Source: Global New Light of Myanmar

In addition to the current financial assistant to the affected businesses, government will allocate around 1.5 trillion Kyat in 2020-2021 FY to support those struggling from disruption caused by Covid-19, according to the MoPFI. The funds have been provided by international institutions such as IMF and JICA.

Regarding with the measures related with foreign direct investment (FDI) and foreign workers, the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) is facilitating the stay permit and visa extension process to be conducted digitally. Meantime, the MoPFI called for investments for manufacturing COVID-19 related medical products using vacant state-owned factories. Initiatives have also been taken to better support and ease processes for high impact investments, e-commerce, infrastructure, and agriculture enterprises. For the trade sector, government announced on March 17, 2020 that the advance income tax of 2.0% on exports will be waived until the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2020. As for the measures regarding with protection of essential products, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) has banned speculation in the market of selling and distributing health aid equipment related to COVID-19, medicines, and consumer goods. Moreover, there will be waiver of the “specific goods tax,” customs duties, and commercial tax on “critical” medical supplies and products related to the prevention, control, and treatment of COVID-19.[4]

[1] Myanmar leader forms new anti-COVID-19 committee, Myanmar Times

[2] Covid-19 impact and responses: Myanmar, Fair Wear

[3] Myanmar gov’t provides social security benefits to Covid-19-affected workers, Xinhua Net

[4] Government and institution measures in response to COVID-19, KPMG


Impact of Covid-19 on Myanmar and Potential Industry Sectors, July 2020 (5)

COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan (CERP)

The COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan (CERP) was launched on April 27, 2020 by the government to tackle the coronavirus crisis which resulted impacts on socio and economic problems. The CERP focuses on improving the macroeconomic environment through monetary stimulus; easing the impact on the private sector through improvements to the investment, trade and banking sectors; assisting laborers, workers and households; promoting innovative products and platforms; strengthening the health care system; and increasing access to COVID-19 response financing, including contingency funds.

The CERP comprises seven goals, 10 strategies, 36 action plans and 76 actions, each with an estimated timeline and designated authority in charge, covering a range of fiscal and social measures. It also includes commitments to increase funding for local businesses from 100 billion kyats (US$71.4 million) to 200-500 billion kyats. Under the plan, the government plans to establish a separate 100-billion-kyat fund by the end of 2020 for designated commercial banks to promote trade financing. According to the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry (MoPFI), the government is preparing to spend up to 5 percent of GDP for economic recovery from the pandemic. Myanmar’s GDP is more than US$70 billion, which means that $3-3.5 billion is expected to be spent on stimulus efforts.[1]

The goals of the CERP are as follow:

  • Goal 1: Improve macroeconomic environment through monetary stimulus
  • Goal 2: Ease the impact on the private sector through improvements to investment, trade & banking sectors
  • Goal 3: Easing the impact on laborers and workers
  • Goal 4: Easing the impact on households
  • Goal 5: Promoting innovative products and platforms
  • Goal 6: Health care systems strengthening, and
  • Goal 7: Increase access to Covid-19 response financing.

The CERP is a timely intervention by the Myanmar Government to cushion the financial, social and economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Several of the measures have already been implemented and has gradually aided the management of the crisis. It has received a positive response from the public as it benefits both businesses and individuals. The CERP will see the government increasing its spending to the extent necessary to support the Myanmar economy and its people. The measures are targeted at both large and small enterprises as well as the at-risk population who are undoubtedly feeling the adverse impact of the pandemic harder.[2]

Still, there are concerns regarding with the government’s CERP. It was pointed out by the researchers and academics that the two major concerns about the CERP were the lack of a clear implementation strategy and the huge amount of borrowed funds it requires as Myanmar loans could end up being an additional burden on the country. Nevertheless, CERP is intended to support the trade and investment environment and with the concrete measures to protect and promote MSMEs. It is included easy access to credit, tax incentives, credit guarantee and waiver and deferent of different types of levies and fees. All are aimed to ensure that the sectors can recover and restore production capacity and employment as soon as the movement restrictions are eased. In order to ensure the efficient and effective relief plan for the businesses and all relevant sectors, government should work in close coordination with stakeholders from private sectors, trade bodies like UMFCCI and trade promotion specialists like ITC for investment and exports especially for the MSMEs, and the researchers and academics for the policy recommendations.

[1] Two-Thirds of Myanmar Businesses Struggle to Survive Pandemic, The Irrawaddy

[2] Myanmar: The COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan, Global Compliance News


Impact of Covid-19 on Myanmar and Potential Industry Sectors, July 2020 (6)

Impacts on Garment and CMP Sector in Myanmar due to Covid-19

Myanmar garment and CMP industry constitutes one of the main exports of the country, bringing substantial revenues to the country and employing around 600,000 workers, more than 90% being women, in over 600 factories, according to the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA).  Myanmar’s manufacturing sector is largely concentrated in garment and textiles produced on the cutting, making, and packaging (CMP) basis, and it contributes to the country’s GDP to a certain extent. The CMP industry has emerged as a very promising one in the export sector. The garment sector’s export earnings are projected to reach up to 10 billion US dollars in 2024, according to the government’s initial goals.

However, as the Covid-19 pandemic occurs globally, a number of garment factories in Myanmar are shutting down or limiting their operations due to a shortage of raw materials, a consequence of the closure of factories in Mainland China and cancelled and reduced orders from Europe and elsewhere. Moreover, the majority of the CMP enterprises import raw materials, mainly from China. These businesses have faced shortages of raw materials starting from February-end, owing to the current negative impact of the corona virus. At present, some CMP garment factories have shut down on the reason for the lack of raw materials due to the Covid-19 negative impacts, leaving thousands of workers unemployed.

Thus, exports of garments in Myanmar under the cut-make-pack (CMP) system were only worth $3.6 billion from October to July in the past ten months of fiscal 2019-2020 FY, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce (MOC).[1] The export volume of CMP garment decrease about US$ 60 million compared to the same period in the last fiscal year. Anyhow, the CMP and garment products export accounts for over 25% of overall country exports during 10 months in 2019-2020 FY. When garment export markets are analyzed, Myanmar exported 45% of garment to EU and the rest were Japan, South Korea and the US in 2019 and show that the sector is diversified.

Currently, the Covid-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on global garment supply chains.  Global brands and retailers are cancelling orders from their supplier factories and many governments are imposing restrictions on travel and gatherings.  As a result, many garment factories are suspending production and either firing or temporarily suspending their workers and trying to reduce the overall wages. The apparel industry in Asia is also highly sensitive to labor costs increases. Many garment manufacturers have relocated from China where wages have been increasing steadily for over a decade. 

One of Myanmar’s big advantages is that its labour costs remain extremely competitive, and in particular are significantly lower than labour costs in Cambodia and Vietnam, where both of those countries have large garment manufacturing sectors.  Wage costs in Myanmar can be as low as approximately USD$64 per month. In Thailand, the monthly wage for a factory worker is approximately USD$358, in Vietnam approximately USD$150, and in Cambodia approximately USD$88. In the post Covid-19, the setting and scene are most likely that many economies and industries of the world would be pulling out of China, and that new investors might be looking for fresh territories for investment.[2] Therefore, lower labour costs in Myanmar could attract the global garment companies which are trying to reduce their worker wages and Myanmar garment and CMP industry would have huge potential for the post Covid-19 scenario.

[1] Myanmar exports CMP garment worth $3.6 bn in 10 months, Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)

[2] Manufacturing in Myanmar, Charltons


Impact of Covid-19 on Myanmar and Potential Industry Sectors, July 2020 (7)

Manufacturing and Processing Sector

Manufacturing and processing sector contributed 24% of GDP in 2018-19 FY. The Myanmar manufacturing sector was recorded an accelerated downturn in April as a result of Covid-19, according to a survey from IHS Markit. The manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) is a composite single-figure indicator of manufacturing performance. It is derived from indicators for new orders, output, employment, suppliers’ delivery times and stocks of purchases. Any figure greater than 50.0 indicates overall improvement of the sector.[1] Indicators for output, new orders and employment, accounting for 75 percent of the weight of the PMI, all sank to new record lows in April.

The IHS Markit pointed out that Myanmar Manufacturing PMI was 29.0 in April, 38.9 in May and 48.7 in June 2020 from 45.3 in March, which signal a severe decline in manufacturing business conditions in Myanmar. Although the PMI figures seemed to improve, the manufacturing sector was continued to decrease in June with a manufacturing PMI score of 48.7. It remained beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. Individually, output and new business both expanded for the first time since February, while there was a further drop in employment.

However, Myanmar manufacturing sector was recovered in July 2020 and the PMI score increased to 51.7. It is stated that recovery of Myanmar manufacturing sector and economy is faster than regional countries due to the China’s quick economic recovery, according to the Oxford Business Group (OBG). Although demand from Japan, India, Europe and US decreased, manufacturing and new orders from China have increased and thus, the Myanmar manufacturing sector has recovered from the downturn cause by the Covid-19 pandemic. Still, the local manufacturing labor force is on a decline although manufacturing and new orders increased in July, 2020.[2] 

According to World Bank’s Economic Monitor June 2020, industrial production is expected to contract by -0.2 percent in FY2019/20 as lockdown measures restrict access to labor, the closure of the overland border with China disrupts the supply of industrial inputs, and both domestic and international consumer demand remain soft. Myanmar which has a labour force of 22.4 million in over 50,000 registered industries and other SMEs offers a large pool of low-cost workers for foreign manufacturers and has emerged as one of the most popular production bases in Southeast Asia for labour-intensive industries, namely industries that require substantial amounts of human labour to produce products. The government of Myanmar and international organizations focused and committed to support small firms to mitigate the Covid-19 impact. Despite Covid-19 crisis period, FDI approved amount for Manufacturing Sector stood third place by 18% (US$ 795 million) after the investment in Real Estate Sector of 21% (US$ 896 million) and Power Sector of 39% (US$ 1.7 billion) in 2019-20 FY (from October to June).  The manufacturing businesses permitted up to June in 2019-20 FY are rubber, shoes, animal feeds and aqua feeds, purified drinking water, lighting fixtures and accessories on CMP basis, assembling and manufacturing motor vehicles, processing rice and rice related products, garment, processing value added agriculture products,  and fiber cement board.

[1] Myanmar PMI, The Global Economy

[2] Myanmar economy to recover fast from pandemic, PMI rising: business report, The Myanmar Times


Impact of Covid-19 on Myanmar and Potential Industry Sectors, July 2020 (8)

Agro-based food industry Sector

An agriculture account nearly a quarter of Myanmar’s GDP and employs over 12 million people, or around 54% of the labour force. It has also contributed to around 20% of export value over US$3 billion annually. Rice is the most common crop in the country, followed by pulses and maize. Impacts of Covid-19 on agriculture sector were delayed commodity flow, loss of markets, suspension of export sector, crops destroyed due to lack of supply chain facilities, strict restriction on trade policy of neighboring countries and decline of investment.[1] The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MoALI) announced on May 13 that jobs and financing for farmers will be made available under the CERP plan.  MoALI will harness a total of 400,000 acres of farmland on which it will work under a joint venture with the Myanmar Rice Federation to produce seeds for planting. This will take up half the land. The remaining half will be used for the growing and harvesting of crops. Funds are expected to come from the government budget as well as international financing. This also aligns with the CERP plan, under which the government has pledge to support farmers with small-scale faring and seed production.[2]

The CERP plan also details specific measures to support the agricultural sector, including cash or lending support for smallholder farmers who have lost revenue in order to support input purchases in time for monsoon planting, the establishment of rural cash-for-work programs, to be implemented by the end of the year, and the facilitation of rice exports to maintain incentives for farmers to plant this season.

World Bank approved on 26 June 2020 for a $200 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) to increase agricultural productivity and diversification and enhance market access for Myanmar farmers.[3]

Agriculture sector (20 % of the economy in 2019-2020 FY) has proved resilient with growth estimated to slow by less than in other sectors, to 0.7 percent in 2019-20, thanks to strong crop production offsetting a weakening livestock and fisheries sector. Therefore, both governments’ measures for agriculture industry and incoming demands of agriculture products from abroad made the agro-based food industry as one of the potential sector to be growth under the Covid-19 crisis. Currently, the exports of agriculture products have been valued at about US$ 3.07 billion for the 9 months since October to June in the 2019-2020 fiscal year, an increase of US$ 504.7 million compared with the year-ago period which earned US$ 2.56 billion, according to the Ministry of Commerce. The chief items of export in the agricultural sector are rice and broken rice, pulses, corn, and rubber. Fruits and vegetables, sesame, dried tea leaves, sugar, and other agro products are also shipped to other countries.

Currently, the Ministry of Commerce is working to help farmers deal with challenges such as high input costs, procurement of pedigree seeds, high cultivation costs, and erratic weather conditions.[4] Myanmar has already set the goal of turning itself into an agro-based industrial country as it possess huge swathes of vacant and fallow land, plenty of labour, and ready internal and external markets. Moreover, the government has added Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Sector and Food Processing Sector as part of the potential export sectors to prioritize under the National Export Strategy (NES) 2020-2025. Meanwhile in 2019, Myanmar signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Japanese business entity to set up a new industrial zone in Yangon, where quality food-based products will be manufactured and in which the main raw material will come from domestic sources. Thus, Myanmar has huge potential to become value-added exporters of agriculture products and to fulfill the world’s food requirement under the global Covid-19 pandemic.

[1] Discussion on Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture sector, The Global New Light of Myanmar, 19 June 2020

[2] Myanmar Livestock sector decline may pose longer term food security issues as the result of  COVID – 19, ThaiBizMyanmar

[3]   Press Release-Myanmar: Project to Boost Agricultural Productivity, Support Farmers in Wake of COVID-19, World Bank, 26 June 2020

[4] Agro exports up $466 mln as of 12 June, The Global New Light of Myanmar


Impact of Covid-19 on Myanmar and Potential Industry Sectors, July 2020 (9)

Rise of E-Commerce and E-Payment amid Covid-19 pandemic

The size of Myanmar’s E-commerce (electronic commercial) market was approximately USD 6 million in 2018. However, it is expected to see strong growth in 2020 and expand rapidly within the next 5 years. To avoid being infected by the Covid-19 virus, consumers who have formed the habit of online shopping are becoming more likely to order food and choose daily necessities and fresh food online instead of going to an offline supermarket. Food and clothes e-commerce is seeing an explosive growth in Myanmar under the Covid-19 epidemic. Current foundations in place to spur future growth in Myanmar’s E-commerce sector include a growing young and tech-savvy population, increasingly innovative door-to-door logistics solutions that have been adapted to meet local needs, and a vibrant start-up scene, with more of the young entrepreneurial generation looking to develop new business solutions.[1] Growth is set to begin in Yangon and Mandalay, the two largest economic cities, and sectors set to benefits from the growth of E-commerce are retail, healthcare, clothing and entertainment. With 30 percent of Myanmar’s people living in cities, and 70 percent of the population is under 40 years old, there is a massive potential for huge growth of E-commerce industry.

E-commerce is getting more active in Myanmar due to COVID.  Most activities are;   

  1. Online shopping by retail sales direct to consumers
  2. Online marketplaces, which process business-to-consumer (B2C) or consumer-to-consumer (C2C) sales
  3. Business-to-business (B2B) buying and selling
  4. Digital marketing
  5. E-payment

One of the factors to boost the E-payment in Myanmar, the Department of Trade under the Ministry of Commerce announced in April 2020 that it will grant e-license for over 190 import items in the third time. To carry out the fully online licensing system during the emergency period of Covid-19, H.S codes for 91 import items and 73 export items have been issued for the first time, 455 more import items are available for the online licensing system in the second time, and 196 import lines for the third time. Government has launched the online licensing system for export and import businesses starting from 1 April, intending to reduce the person-to-person contact and mitigate the spread of Covid-19. Therefore, the process of license applications, fee payment and receiving licenses can be done with the MPU E-commerce pay and the MCB E-commerce Pay of the Myanmar Citizens Bank under the new service.[2]

Meantime, local retailers have called for a law to regulate E-commerce and help grow the industry. The government needs to improve its legislative and regulatory framework to effectively govern the industry and take care of concerns regarding consumer protection, information privacy, security of financial transactions and cybercrimes, as well as a need for better logistic infrastructure and higher online payment penetration to improve the better E-commerce industry. Thus, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) aims to increase trust between the buyers and sellers by increasing selling through marketplaces and platforms and so, voluntary registration of online shops is setting to do with the announcement in July 2020. This registration system will build further trust between online businesses and consumers. Moreover, it will also allow disputes to be settled in a fair and legal setting. Therefore, the informal social e-commerce businesses are going to transform into registered marketplaces. In addition, the MOC is regulating the E-commerce industry via instructions and orders as it prepares to draft a policy framework to adopt E-commerce laws and guidelines at the end of 2020.

Myanmar’s Covid-19 Economic Recovery Plan (CERP) also identifies the need for expanding the digital connectivity to support e-commerce, digital mode of service delivery and in giving a big push for e-governance. According to Myanmar Economic Monitor June 2020 released by the World Bank, developing ICT skills among entrepreneurs, building out electronic-payment systems, expanding digital literacy, retailed licensing and clarifying the legislative and regulatory framework for e-commerce could enable the retail sector to cope with the impacts of social distancing while providing a digital platform to support the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). 

[1] E-Commerce in Myanmar: A Rising Tide, AEC Business Advisory

[2] Third-time e-licence for 190 import items to be granted: MoC, The Global New Light of Myanmar


Impact of Covid-19 on Myanmar and Potential Industry Sectors, July 2020 (11)

Covid-19 Impacts on Transports and Logistics

Movement restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have left many people confined to their homes. Offices have instituted work from home policies, while factories and workshops were forced to close in late April pending government inspections. Some businesses have shuttered altogether, either permanently or until COVID-19 prevention rules are rolled back. While COVID-19 has brought parts of the economy to a halt, the transport and logistics sectors have to keep moving. Although demand for transport had dropped because of the pandemic, there were still exports to send to port and imports to deliver to factories and warehouses, shops around the country in need of restocking and markets that require fresh produce.[1]

Many orders for garments being cancelled and shutdown of some factories led to the less need for trucking industry. Of the 2,500 trucks under the Myanmar Container Trucks Association, only about 30 percent were on the road at the moment during the April and May 2020. Ships were still coming to the ports and unloading goods and still picking up exports, but many of the goods were resting around at the ports because many factories were closed, or there were not enough workers at the factories or warehouses to accept deliveries. To ease the cost on businesses and to help keep the transport system running, the Myanma Port Authority reduced charges for demurrage, imposed when a ship is not loaded or unloaded within an agreed time, as well as storage fees on April 6, 2020.

Moreover, the customs department has announced that importers will be able to secure online customs clearance for their goods on a national basis as a measure to support businesses during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. This can be secured via the Myanmar Automated Cargo Clearance System (MACCS) which is the country’s existing online customs clearance system. By using the MACCS, the user can pay duties via any computer that has an Internet connection. So, the user will not need to go to the Customs Department offices to pay duties and the trade would be faster.

Although demand for transport and logistics services in Myanmar decreased in April and May 2020 due to the containment measures and lockdown orders from the government, rising online shopping customers makes the market opportunities of logistics companies goes up. Starting from June 2020, transportation services become normal again after government lifted the lockdown orders and night curfews.

Meanwhile, the small package delivery businesses under the logistics industry increase in huge amount when the trucking industry declined in the April and May. This is due to the increasing e-commerce and online shopping industry as the packages bought by the customers are needed delivery services. Community lockdown led to the more people staying at home and bought the things they need via online, so the small package delivery businesses needed to recruit more people to deliver the packages door to door on time. These courier services and small package delivery businesses will increase more in the future along with the growing E-commerce industry.

Currently, there are over ten express and delivery service companies registered officially, but there are more than 150 small package delivery businesses which are unregistered. Growing express, couriers and parcel delivery services, which is part of the logistics sector, could generate taxes for government budget if the government could release the new postal law and regulations to license the unregistered delivery businesses. 

[1] Keep on trucking: transport sector remains on the move despite COVID-19, Frontier Myanmar


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