Burma - Country Commercial Guide
Environmental Technology

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-09-27

Overview

For decades, Burma has pursued a conventional economic development path with no regard for environmental safeguards.  As a result, the country is currently dealing with detrimental environmental consequences such as climate change and natural disasters, deforestation, mangrove loss, deterioration of water and air quality, land degradation, resulting in flooding and landslides, biodiversity loss, depletion of inland and coastal fisheries and wastewater and solid waste problems management.

Significant growth in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in recent years through investments in the energy, agriculture, industrial, and mining sectors also poses environmental challenges.  Burma was ranked 165 in the World Bank ’Group’s Doing Business 2020 report.  In terms of environmental governance, Burma scored 179 out of 180 countries on the Environmental Performance Index in 2020 and is among the world’s least developed in environmental management and regulation.  Almost every aspect of performance related to regulation or infrastructure has scored among the lowest globally.  In addition, ecosystem vitality and protection of terrestrial biodiversity come out as particularly weak.

The government has made significant progress in establishing the legal and regulatory framework for environmental management in recent years. The government enacted the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) in 2012, followed by the Environmental Conservation Rules (ECR) in 2014 and the Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure (EIA Procedure) in 2015.  National Environmental Quality (Emission) Guidelines (2015) and sector-specific EIA guidelines for the hydropower, mining, and oil and gas industries have been developed.  Afterward, The National Environmental Policy and the Burma Climate Change Policy were released in 2019.  These new policies are in harmony with the Burma Sustainable Development Plan 2018-2030 and highlight the increasing risks of extreme climate change and its impacts on Burma’s economic and social development.  Additionally, there are a number of ongoing or planned projects addressing environmental management supported by development partners such as the World Bank, IFC, ADB, JICA, UNDP, and NEA since the government implemented EIA procedures in 2015.  However, improvements to environmental development projects remain a work in progress due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and the military coup in February 2021.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Agriculture: Agriculture contributes approximately 30% of the ’country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs approximately 60% of the population.  Due to the positive economic trends over the last five years, agricultural production has increased significantly, owing to intensive farming systems that require high inputs of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.  Inappropriate use of these agrochemicals will have a negative impact on both the environment and the farming community.  The primary effect is land degradation, which significantly reduces soil fertility.  Additionally, commercial monocropping (rice, maize, and pulses) over a large area in successive years will favor pest and disease infestation, making the crop highly susceptible to climate shock and variability. 

The government strongly supported innovative technology for improved soil fertility management and increased crop yields such as soil scanner technology, post-harvest technologies, solar dryer technology for high valued crops, pest management technology, irrigation, and water management technology, etc.  Local agricultural firms are also willing to collaborate with foreign technology firms to bring new technology to Burmese growers that is highly relevant and applicable to climate change adaptation and sustainable agriculture production systems.

Solid Waste management: Burma faces significant challenges with the management of solid waste.  The key environmental and operational issues arise due to the current practice of open waste dumping and insufficient collection coverage and cleanliness.  Landfills are nearly full, and their operation as an open dump is disorganized.  Without compaction, waste dumping on steep slopes creates a dangerous situation for waste pickers and reduces landfill capacity.  Contamination of surface water and groundwater has been observed because of toxic waste components.  Contaminated water may affect adjacent farmland.  The surrounding area is littered with wind-blown light plastic material.  There is methane production, greenhouse gas emissions, and the possibility of landfill fires.  Additionally, solid waste disposal sites are a significant source of disease for the surrounding population, agricultural lands and workers, and waste collectors.

The government prioritizes upgrading existing infrastructure, including waste collection, transportation, recycling, and waste-to-energy technology.  With the assistance of international donors, a National Waste Management Strategy and Master Plan (2018–2030) was recently developed.  The solid waste private sector is also eager to collaborate with foreign technology companies to support the ’country’s waste management development plan.

Water Resource Management: Although Burma has abundant physical water resources, rural people in many States and Regions face difficulties accessing water for drinking and irrigation because of a lack of infrastructure.  Additionally, a common constraint on crop production throughout Burma is crop failure due to drought and flooding.  Advanced technologies are in high demand for renovating and improving village ponds, tube wells, and hydroelectric dams, as well as for improving rooftop rainwater harvesting, water purification in remote villages, and risk reduction from flood disasters, desalination in coastal areas, solar-powered water pumping, and rainwater collection from ground surfaces.

Opportunities

Both the government and private sector players are interested in U.S. environmental solutions and technologies.  U.S. companies that focus on recycling systems and technologies will find trade and investment opportunities in Burma.  There is strong demand for advanced wastewater and water treatment technologies.  U.S. companies that provide technologies for water supply, sanitation, drainage, and wastewater management can find tremendous business opportunities in Burma.  In addentional, products and services related to water softening, pumps, valves, scrapers, sludge dewatering equipment and screening machines, magnetic flowmeters, large chlorinators for water/wastewater systems, water recycling technologies are areas that could also provide business opportunities for U.S. companies. 

Resources

Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI)

Environmental Conservation Department, Ministry of Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC)

Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC)

Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) - Pollution Control & Cleansing Department

Environmental Performance Index

World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2020 report

Contact Information

U.S. Commercial Service

Htet Ye Win

Commercial Assistant

Email: htetye.win@trade.gov