A sovereign state in Southeast Asia, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar shipped an estimated US$19 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount results from a 66.4% gain since 2015 and a 14.1% uptick from 2018 to 2019.
Burma is another name often used to refer to Myanmar.
The latest available country-specific data rom 2018 shows that 85.1% of products exported from Myanmar were bought by importers in: China (33.3% of the global total), Thailand (18.3%), Japan (8.3%), India (3.4%), Hong Kong (3.4%), Germany (3%), United States (also 3%), Singapore (2.9%), South Korea (2.7%), United Kingdom (2.5%), Netherlands (2.2%) and Spain (1.9%).
From a continental perspective, 78.6% of Myanmar’s exports by value were delivered to fellow Asian countries while 16.3% were sold to importers in Europe. Myanmar shipped another 3.5% worth of goods to North America. Tinier percentages went to Africa (1.2%), Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.2%) then Oceania led by Australia (0.1%).
Myanmar’s population in 2019 was 54 million people, resulting in an average $350 in exported goods per resident.
Myanmar’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value global shipments from Myanmar during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Myanmar.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$4.4 billion (22.9% of total exports)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $4 billion (21.1%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $2 billion (10.4%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $973.7 million (5.1%)
- Cereals: $805.4 million (4.2%)
- Copper: $702.1 million (3.7%)
- Footwear: $581 million (3.1%)
- Vegetables: $535.3 million (2.8%)
- Leather/animal gut articles: $476.7 million (2.5%)
- Fish: $473.6 million (2.5%)
Myanmar’s top 10 exports accounted for 78.3% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Ores, slag and ash was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 3,412% from 2018 to 2019 propelled by stronger international sales of tin, lead and manganese. In second place for improving export sales was leather or animal gut articles via a 216.9% gain. Myanmar’s shipments of knitted or crocheted clothing and accessories posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 131.3%.
The leading decliner among Myanmar’s top 10 export categories was fish thanks to a -35.5% drop year over year.
From the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, petroleum gases represent Myanmar’s most valuable exported product at 22.3% of the country’s total. In second place was women’s unknitted and non-crocheted coats or jackets (5.8%) trailed by unknitted and non-crocheted men’s coats or jackets (3.7%), refined copper and unwrought alloys (also 3.7%), knitted or crocheted jerseys and pullovers (3.6%), unknitted and non-crocheted women’s clothing (3.4%), tin ores and concentrates (3.1%), rice (3%), dried shelled vegetables (2.7%), cases, handbags and wallets (2.5%), non-crocheted men’s suits or trousers (2.3%) and unstrung precious and semi-precious stones (1.9%).
The following types of Burmese product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): US$3.9 billion (Up by 21.3% since 2018)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $1.8 billion (Up by 122.8%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $1.2 billion (Reversing a -$436 million deficit)
- Ores, slag, ash: $972.8 million (Up by 3,441%)
- Cereals: $686.6 million (Down by -32.2%)
- Copper: $681.2 million (Down by -15.9%)
- Vegetables: $482.4 million (Down by -36.1%)
- Footwear: $457.7 million (Up by 56.8%)
- Fish: $440.9 million (Down by -39.4%)
- Leather/animal gut articles: $427.1 million (Up by 242.7%)
Myanmar has highly positive net exports in the international trade of clothing and accessories. In turn, these cashflows indicate Myanmar’s strong competitive advantages particularly under clothing and accessories product categories–and notably unknitted or non-crocheted goods.
Overall Myanmar incurred an -$6.1 billion trade deficit for 2019, up by 127.4% from the -$2.7 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Myanmar that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Myanmar’s goods trail Burmese importer spending on foreign products.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US-$2.35 billion (Up by 115.1% since 2018)
- Machinery including computers: -$2.31 billion (Up by 39%)
- Vehicles: -$1.3 billion (Down by -9.6%)
- Iron, steel: -$993.1 million (Up by 39.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$877.3 million (Up by 17.2%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$848 million (Up by 64.5%)
- Knit or crochet fabric: -$743.9 million (Up by 1554.4%)
- Manmade filaments: -$722.8 million (Up by 281%)
- Manmade staple fibers: -$545.3 million (Down by -40.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$529.6 million (Down by -3.6%)
Myanmar has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the electrical machinery and equipment category notably mobile phones and insulated wire or cable.
Myanma Export Companies
Not one Myanma corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists exports-related companies from Myanmar. Selected examples are shown below:
- Aeon Display and Security System (display and security systems)
- Asia World (conglomerate including imports/exports)
- Htoo Group of Companies (holding firm including wood exports)
- Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (oil, gas)
- Myanmar Distribution Group (consumer goods)
- Myint & Associates (industrial transportation)
- Red Link Communications (telecommunications)
- Shan Star (automobiles)
In macroeconomic terms, Myanmar’s total exported goods represent 5.3% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($357.3 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 5.3% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 4.7% for 2018, seeming to indicate a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Myanmar’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Myanmar’s unemployment rate was 4% in 2019 same as during 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Myanmar’s capital city is Nay Pyi Taw.
See also Myanmar’s Top 10 Imports and Top Asian Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook East Asia/Southeast Asia: Burma. Accessed on June 1, 2020
Forbes 2019 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 1, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 1, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 1, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 1, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 1, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Myanmar. Accessed on June 1, 2020
Wikipedia, Myanmar. Accessed on June 1, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 1, 2020
WorldOMeter, Myanmar Population. Accessed on June 1, 2020