Burma - Country Commercial Guide
Distribution & Sales Channels
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Distribution networks in Burma are fragmented and unreliable outside metropolitan areas.  The majority of the retail market is comprised of small and medium-sized businesses. 

Yangon is the primary distribution center for goods imported by sea and air. Mandalay is the distribution hub for upper Burma, especially for goods imported by land from China.  Myawaddy is a border city with Thailand that plays a significant role in the distribution of Thai and Indochina products. 

The Port of Yangon, Burma’s premier port, consists of two parts. The largest one is the Burma International Terminal Thilawa, which contains two terminals and six piers and is located next to the Thilawa Special Economic Zone. The second is the old Yangon port area, covering four terminals and fifteen wharves. The Port handles over 90 percent of export/import maritime cargo and serves as the city’s and country’s central logistics hub. 

Using an Agent to Sell U.S. Products and Services

The Commercial Service Burma strongly advises U.S. businesses to consult with locally based professional service providers, including law firms, for conducting due diligence on potential agents or distributors. This is critical because Burma lacks the equivalent of a Better Business Bureau, and there is very little publicly available information on local companies. The Commercial Service Burma can also assist U.S. companies in finding appropriate agents and distributors in Burma through its matchmaking services. 

Establishing an Office

Burma’s Foreign Investment Law administered by the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) includes: 

  • Certain tax benefits, including a five-year corporate tax exemption. 
  • Company equity transferable with permission of MIC. 
  • Guaranteed protection against expropriation. 
  • Guaranteed remittance of equity upon investment exit. 
  • Guaranteed remittance of profits. 
  • Permission to lease land up to 50 years (depending on the type of enterprise) with two 10-year extensions possible. 

Since February 2021, the business operating environment in Burma has presented new challenges for local firms and foreign investors due to constant changes in trade and financial regulations. Several high-profile investors chose to exit the market or pause operations in Burma, while some potential investors have elected to postpone entering the market. 

Visit the State Department’s Investment Climate Statements website for more information on investment and business environments in Burma pertinent to establishing and operating an office and hiring employees. 

Direct Marketing

Direct marketing as a form of multi-level marketing exists in Burma. However, this sector is still relatively novel and small. Digital marketing with Facebook, in particular, is a rapidly evolving and effective marketing platform for companies of all sizes.  Facebook and Instagram have been formally banned by the regime but are still widely used.

Joint Ventures/Licensing

Foreign companies may enter into joint ventures with individuals and companies from Burma. U.S. businesses should consult with locally-based legal and business consulting firms to determine the specific rules and regulations that apply to their proposed investment or business activity.