At a Glance of Myanmar Current Situation (Part-II) for Infrastructures Business

As introduced in Part (I) from Nov 1st 2013, Myanmar has been going with its reformation since 2011. Currently, it has been in their progress of FESR (Framework for Economic and Social Reform) which outlines priorities up to 2015 which is a part of National Comprehensive Development Plan (NCDP), 20-year plan for reformation.

0112-Myanmar-Peace-Talks_full_600Myanmar is currently struggling with all three dimensional reformation: Political Reformation, Economic Reformation and Peace Building (ceasing fire, negotiation, and implementation of Peace with 16 major armed forces in the country), in which most of the other countries in the world has passed through their reformation process with only one or two dimensions, (MPC, Oct 2013).

As for economic reformation, selected sectors in five-year plans (FESR) has made its industry zoneannual plan and some of those are in actions during these years including new foreign exchange management law, new central bank law to improve operational autonomy of the Central Bank of Myanmar, opening up the telecommunication sector by choosing foreign investors through bidding, permitting 100% ownership for foreign companies with exceptions, and above of all, there is much better, more attractive tax incentives for investments in infrastructure development and the creation of special economic zones to attract foreign investment for the selected sectors. An Example of this incentive is the allowance of 5-year tax holiday.

There are significant necessities for development in Myanmar’s infrastructure sector which could be one of the divers for future job creation in Myanmar just like the other important sectors including manufacturing and tourism. Myanmar overall LPI ranking shows 133 out of 155 (see in table) with 134 in infrastructure (see in table) which is showing the opportunities for foreign investment as private sector in development of basis infrastructures such as urban transportation, airports, utilities, power plants, etc.,.

Myanmar’s agriculture sector has been a dominant sector in creating country’s GDP (0.8, agri$ thousand, 2010) which is taking about 44% of overall GDP. (McKinsey Institute, June 2013) This has led the country to opposite directions with the structure of GDP contribution of other Asia countries like Thailand (4.8, $ thousand, 2010) which has below 15 percent contribution from agriculture and shifting their contribution to infrastructures, manufacturing and services.(McKinsey Institute, June 2013)

Therefore there are six other sectors in national plan to create improvements which can potentially contribute the country’s economy. Infrastructure sector is one of these six with the estimation of 8% growth rate by 2030. According to McKinsey Institute, June 2013, this sector contributes $10.5 billion to GDP in 2010 which is estimated to be $ 48.8 billion in 2030 with the job opportunities of 2.3 million which is currently having the figure of 500,000 only.

Telecommunication infrastructure has made its movement in 2013 as Norway’s telecommunication company, TELENOR and Qatar’s telecom OOREDOO has become Myanmar’s first private telecommunication operators. teleApart from telecommunication, there are other important infrastructures to develop which include transportation infrastructures (roads, sea ports, railways, airports), utilities infrastructures (energy, power, water), industrial infrastructures and real estates. Among these real estates have greatest potential growth from $ 5.4 billion to $ 25.2 billion by 2030. (McKinsey Institute, June 2013)

According to the estimation of McKinsey Institute, June 2013, the urban floor space of large cities will take around 60% of the country in total and the real estate construction costs can be or may be similar to those in Vietnam.

Table: Logistics Performance Index by World Bank 2012

Logistics Performance Index, 2012, WB Myanmar
Overall LPI score 2.33
rank 133
Customs score 1.94
rank 146
Infrastructure score 1.92
rank 134
International shipments score 2.37
rank 131
Logistics competence score 2.01
rank 148
Tracking & tracing score 2.36
rank 129
Timeliness score 3.29
rank 82

At a Glance of Myanmar current situation for International Education Providers

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Myanmar, which is known as the Golden Land, had been under Military regime for many years. In March 2011, former SPDC Prime Minister, U Thein Sein became president. Since then the country has started their movement of reformation by meeting the major opposition leader, Daw Aung Sann Su Kyi. The international community has recognized the progress in the country by easing the sanctions on the country as most have seen as opportunity.

As for general economic condition, Myanmar was left behind the other Asian countries after many years of stagnation in economy. Myanmar which is strategically located at the heart of Asia, near the Asia’s biggest markets, India and China, compared to those of others Asian countries like Thailand, China, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Philippines, it has the lowest per capital GDP.

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According to Economist Intelligence Unit; The Conference Board Total Economy Database; McKinsey Global Institute analysis, Myanmar’s per capita GDP in 2010 is said to be 0.8 ($ thousand) while the neighboring country, Thailand is said to be 4.8 ($ thousand). The major cause of this low GDP is labor productivity.  Myanmar is a country that has about the same population as Thailand but its lack of remarkable improvement in labor productivity has led to low GDP. According to McKinsey Global Institute (June 2013), a worker in Myanmar adds only $1,500 of economic value in year of work which is 70% less than other Asian countries.

Nowadays, 35% of the global population belong the consuming class of people with incomes of more than $10 a day who can spend money on discretionary goods and services as well as basic necessities. (McKinsey Institute, June 2013) This 35% in general is 2.5 billion people and 40% of this which is one billion lives in Asia, while only 4% of this one billion is Myanmar. (McKinsey Institute, June 2013)

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The current economical situation may be a bad news for international education providers of greater value services. However, Myanmar people’s willingness to gain international education standard has been growing since long ago. Parents are willing to invest in their children’s international education. They take education as investment and this seems to be a real risky investment for some Myanmar families because it can end up with debts for the other family members. Therefore, the children, themselves are very hard working and always look forwards to their further self-improvement. The families who take risk might think that something that doesn’t break them will make them grow stronger. Based on what I have known from talking to fellow Myanmar citizens, compared to Myanmar students who are studying abroad at Primary or Secondary levels of education, tertiary level students form a much larger percentage.

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Currently, President Thein Sein has introduced National Comprehensive Development Plan (NCDP), 20-year plan for reformation. However, in order to achieve this long term goal, the country in turn, has short term ones like FESR (Framework for Economic and Social Reform) which outlines priorities up to 2015. One of the goals of this includes achieving average GDP growth of 7.7%. So, this should be the good news for all the globalization companies including international education providers who have interest on Myanmar market.

According to the survey conducted by British Council Exams Services in March 2008, out of the 1,285 candidates who sat for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) from April to December 2007, 37.2 per cent of them were Singapore bound while 33.2 per cent headed for Australia and New Zealand (British Council, 2008). “At the end of the upper secondary level (grade 11), students sit for the matriculation examination to enter the tertiary level” (British Council, 2008). The education system is based on the UK’s system the British colonized Myanmar for about one century.

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Today, most of the Myanmar students are studying business related subjects. Compared to those of the elder generation, many young generations of Myanmar choose to do business as their professional career in the hope that their country might develop as others. This is because of the developing state of Myanmar’s Economy seen with their eyes. In old times, most of the parents in Myanmar want their children to be doctors as the only choice to show that their children are hard-working.  From what I am aware, most of the students studied engineering related subjects in abroad. In recent years however, another field, Business related subjects, has been chosen as a preferred course. Parents start to accept the business related subjects as career-defining subjects in the hope that there will be much more opportunities in the country after reformation of open market economy.

Now, we have to keep an eye on what will really happen next.Image

The Starting Point of Instant Noodle Culture in Myanmar

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With today’s hectic lifestyles, time-saving products are increasingly in demand. Perhaps one of the significant examples is instant foods. Since 1990, there is growth rate in consumer spending at Instant Food such as instant noodles market in Myanmar. The consumer spent at instant foods grew at an annually proportion of food expenditures.

The reasons for this are speed, convenience and price of instant foods. Now, people want quick and convenient meals because they do not want to spend a lot of time preparing meals, traveling to pick up meals or waiting for meals at the restaurants. That result, consumers rely on instant food. Knowing this, instant food manufacturers and providers are coming up with new ways to market their products that save time for consumers. The significant example is booming of the instant noodle market.

Instant noodles were first marketed by Monofuku Ando, who was born in southwestern Taiwan when the island was under Japanese colonial rule. In Japan, on August 25, 1958, the first brand of instant noodle, under the brand name Chi kin Ramen was launched. In 1971, Nissin introduced the Cup Noodles, instant noodles in waterproof polystyrene cup, to which boiling water could be added to cook the noodles. A further innovation added dried vegetables to the cup, creating a complete instant soup dish.

According to Japanese poll in the year 2000, instant noodles were the most important Japanese invention of the century. As of 2008, approximately 94 billion servings of instant noodles were eaten worldwide every year. China consumes 45 billion packages of instant noodles per year-48% of the world consumption- Indonesia 14 billion; Japan 5.1 billion; per capital. South Korea consumes the greatest amount (69 million) per year. The theory was that the increase in sales of instant noodles, which are usually cheap, occurred because people could afford it.

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”

The food that a person eats can show the major part of his or her culture; it can be said as one of the representative of the society. So, let’s see how a country with a very strong cultural belief that was known for cultural heritage is accepting the new way of living, which often call as living fast. Eating at home remain very much built in Myanmar culture and changes in eating habits are very slow in movement with barriers to eat the instant noodles in certain sector of society.

The growth in nuclear families, particularly in urban Myanmar, exposure to global media and Western cuisine and an increasing number of women joining the workforce have had an impact on eating out trends.

This has led us in a new market of eating “Instant Noodle”. The name itself says the meaning of “can be prepared very quickly”.

On the other hand, the rural markets offer new and greater opportunities to manufacturers of instant noodles in Myanmar with the increase in purchasing power and demand for a wide variety of products by the rural consumers. To tap the vast and expanding market, companies are developing effective marketing and strategies based on their study and understanding of rural consumer behavior. There are certainly significant differences in the buying behavior of the rural consumers from the stand point of product development, pricing policies, distribution and after sales services, which create difference in requirements for marketing strategies in rural Myanmar.