Burma - Country Commercial Guide
Distribution & Sales Channels

Discusses distribution network from how products enter to final destination, including reliability of distribution systems, distribution centers, ports, etc.

Last published date: 2021-09-27

Distribution networks in Burma are fragmented and unreliable outside metropolitan areas.  This is slowly changing with the entry of international general and specialized logistics services.  The majority of the retail market is comprised of small and medium-sized businesses.

Yangon is the major 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 and Thailand.

The Yangon Port terminal is Burma’s premier port and covers over 90 percent of export and import maritime cargo, serving as the main logistics hub for both the city and the country.  According to the PwC report “Transforming Yangon/ The Heart of Myanmar” issued in 2018, the current port capacity of Yangon Main Port is less than 1,000,000 TEUs, and the Thilawa Area Port has a capacity of 800,000 TEUs. 

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 (see Local Professional Services below), 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

The Foreign Investment Law passed in November 2012 allows foreign investors to establish private companies, branch offices, or representative offices.  Under the new Myanmar Investment Law (enacted in October 2016), foreign investment is restricted only in a small number of sectors, and foreign investors are free to negotiate their own capitalization requirements in a joint venture, subject to the approval of the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC).  The Foreign Investment Law is administered by the MIC and 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 type of enterprise) with two 10-year extensions possible

The Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) launched online registration for companies through Myanmar Companies Online (MyCo) electronic platform on August 1, 2018.  Companies are now able to register or renew their registration online, significantly reducing the processing time and requiring fewer supporting documents. 

Franchising

Burma welcomes foreign franchises from across the world.  The legal framework for franchise agreements remains a work in progress.  For more information on franchising, please see the opportunities under the Leading Sectors for U.S. Exports & investments.

Direct Marketing

Direct marketing as a form of multi-level marketing exists in Burma.  However, this sector is still fairly novel and small.  Digital marketing with Facebook, in particular, is a rapidly evolving and effective marketing platform for companies of all sizes.

Joint Ventures/Licensing

Foreign companies may enter joint ventures with Burmese individuals, companies, or state-owned enterprises.  Investment with 100 percent foreign ownership is permitted for most business activities.  Foreign investments in a limited number of activities require a local partner; however, even in restricted sectors, foreign ownership of up to 80 percent is permitted in most cases.  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.

Express Delivery

The government granted a significantly larger number of permits to privately owned postal companies in June 2018, making the courier service market more attractive and more competitive for foreign investors. Connectivity to the rest of Southeast Asia is steadily improving.

Due Diligence

U.S. companies are advised to utilize the services of local and international professional services companies which specialize in performing due diligence services due to the lack of readily available market and financial data on potential partners.