A sovereign state in Southeast Asia, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar shipped an estimated US$15.4 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount results from a 34.3% gain since 2014 and also signals a 10.8% uptick from 2017 to 2018.
Burma is another name often used to refer to Myanmar.
From a continental perspective, 84.4% of Burmese exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 11.2% were sold to Europe importers. Myanmar shipped another 2.5% worth of goods to North American. Smaller percentages went to Africa (1.3%), Latin America (0.2%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania led by Australia (0.2%).
In macroeconomic terms, Myanmar’s total exported goods represent 4.7% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($328.4 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 4.7% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 6.4% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Myanmar’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Myanmar also provided $5.4 billion worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 1.6% of GDP in PPP.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Myanmar’s unemployment rate was 1.6% in 2018 down from 2.2% during 2017, according to Trading Economics.
Myanmar’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value global shipments from Myanmar during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Myanmar.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$3.5 billion (23% of total exports)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $3.1 billion (20.4%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $1.4 billion (9.2%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $1 billion (6.5%)
- Copper: $811.5 million (5.3%)
- Vegetables: $470.9 million (3.1%)
- Footwear: $447.5 million (2.9%)
- Gems, precious metals: $441.4 million (2.9%)
- Fish: $375 million (2.4%)
- Cereals: $374.4 million (2.4%)
Myanmar’s top 10 exports accounted for 78.1% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Ores, slag and ash was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 3,576% year over year since 2017.
In second place for improving export sales was knitted or crocheted clothing and accessories which rose 186%.
Myanmar’s shipments of footwear posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 78.7%.
The leading decliner among Myanmar’s top 10 export categories was cereals which fell -72% year over year, weighted down by shrinking international sales of rice and corn.
From the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, petroleum gases represent Myanmar’s most valuable exported product at 22% of the country’s total. In second place was women’s unknitted and non-crocheted coats or jackets (5.9%) trailed by refined copper and unwrought alloys (5.3%), tin ores and concentrates (4.8%), unknitted and non-crocheted men’s coats or jackets (3.7%), knitted and crocheted jerseys and pullovers (3.1%), dried shelled vegetables (3%), unknitted and non-crocheted women’s clothing (2.7%), unstrung precious and semi-precious stones (also 2.7%) then unknitted and non-crocheted men’s suits or trousers (2.5%).
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 billion (Up by 60% since 2017)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $1.3 billion (Up by 177.6%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $1 billion (Up by 3710.6%)
- Copper: $782.8 million (Up by 65.6%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $510.6 million (Up by 306.5%)
- Vegetables: $456.9 million (Down by -48.2%)
- Gems, precious metals: $421.8 million (Up by 8.5%)
- Fish: $354.7 million (Down by -46.1%)
- Footwear: $335.4 million (Up by 89.9%)
- Wood: $242 million (Up by 30.7%)
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 -$8.8 billion trade deficit for 2018, up by 63.4% from the -$5.4 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$2.4 billion (Up by 95.9% since 2017)
- Machinery including computers: -$2.2 billion (Up by 44.5%)
- Vehicles: -$1.5 billion (Down by -31.8%)
- Iron, steel: -$842 million (Up by 58.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$799.2 million (Up by 24.2%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$665.7 million (Up by 33%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$624.3 million (Down by -8.6%)
- Manmade filaments: -$580.6 million (Up by 166.6%)
- Knit or crochet fabric: -$551 million (Up by 660.9%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$536.1 million (Up by 2%)
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)
Myanmar’s capital city is Nay Pyi Taw.
See also Myanmar’s Top 10 Imports, Top Asian Export Countries and Capital Facts for Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar
Forbes 2018 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 25, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 2, 2019
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on July 2, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 25, 2019
The World Factbook, East Asia/Southeast Asia: Burma. Accessed on April 25, 2019
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 2, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Myanmar. Accessed on April 25, 2019
Wikipedia, Myanmar. Accessed on April 25, 2019
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 2, 2019