Burma is another name often used to refer to Myanmar.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the Myanmar kyat has depreciated by -11.9% against the US dollar since 2016 but increased by 9% from 2019 to 2020. Myanmar’s stronger local currency since 2019 made the Southeast Asian nation’s exports paid for in weaker US dollars relatively more expensive for international buyers in the most recent year.
The 5 biggest exported goods from Myanmar by value are petroleum gases, unknitted and non-crocheted men’s suits or trousers, dried shelled vegetables, unknitted and non-crocheted women’s clothing and refined copper. Combined, Myanmar’s 5 most valuable exports accounted for 45.8% of the country’s overall exports.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 86.2% of products exported from Myanmar were bought by importers in: China (31.8% of the global total), Thailand (17.8%), Japan (7.3%), United States (5.1%), Singapore (4.1%), India (4.1%), Germany (3.5%), Spain (3.1%), United Kingdom (2.9%), South Korea (2.6%), Netherlands (also 2.6%) and Belgium (1.3%).
From a continental perspective, 74.3% of Myanmar’s exports by value were delivered to fellow Asian countries while 18.7% were sold to importers in Europe. Myanmar shipped another 5.7% worth of goods to North America.
Tinier percentages went to Africa (0.8%), Oceania led by Australia (0.22%) then Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.18%).
Myanmar’s population in 2020 was 53.2 million people, resulting in an average $320 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 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Myanmar.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$3.4 billion (20.2% of total exports)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $3.4 billion (20.2%)
- Vegetables: $1.25 billion (7.4%)
- Cereals: $1.16 billion (6.9%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $1.16 billion (6.9%)
- Copper: $927.6 million (5.5%)
- Fish: $826.2 million (4.9%)
- Machinery including computers: $628.8 million (3.7%)
- Fruits, nuts: $624.5 million (3.7%)
- Oil seeds: $547.1 million (3.2%)
By value, Myanmar’s top 10 exports accounted for 82.6% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Machinery including computers was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 262.8% from 2019 to 2020.
In second place for improving export sales was oil seeds via a 36.7% gain.
Myanmar’s shipments of vegetables posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 28.3%.
The leading decliner among Myanmar’s top 10 export categories was mineral fuels including oil thanks to its -23.3% drop year over year.
From the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, petroleum gases represent Myanmar’s most valuable exported product accounting for 19.9% of the country’s total. In second place were men’s unknitted and non-crocheted suits or trousers (7.3%) trailed by dried shelled vegetables (6.8%), unknitted and non-crocheted women’s clothing (6.3%), refined copper and unwrought alloys (5.5%), rice (4.6%), machinery parts (3.4%), knitted or crocheted jerseys and pullovers (3.2%), corn (2.3%) and bananas including plantains (2.2%).
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$3.4 billion (Down by -9.3% since 2019)
- Vegetables: $1.2 billion (Up by 28.6%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $1.1 billion (Down by -6.9%)
- Cereals: $989.3 million (Up by 15.7%)
- Copper: $899.3 million (Up by 15.2%)
- Fish: $815.3 million (Up by 7.7%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $682.1 million (Down by -9.1%)
- Fruits, nuts: $573.5 million (Down by -6%)
- Oil seeds: $521.6 million (Up by 39.2%)
- Footwear: $410.1 million (Up by 6.4%)
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 a -$1 billion trade deficit for 2020, up by 104.9% from the -$505 million 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$1.8 billion (Up by 63.9% since 2019)
- Vehicles: -$1.2 billion (Up by 5.8%)
- Machinery including computers: -$1.1 billion (Down by -27.8%)
- Iron, steel: -$785.4 million (Up by 12.1%)
- Manmade staple fibers: -$733.7 million (Down by -14.2%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$725.6 million (Down by -3.2%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$702.7 million (Up by 31.7%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$628.2 million (Up by 38.1%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$592 million (Up by 5.7%)
- Fertilizers: -$391.3 million (Down by -5.4%)
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 6.5% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2020 ($258.7 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 6.5% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2020 compares to 5.3% for 2019, seeming to indicate a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Myanmar’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Myanmar’s average unemployment rate was 2% in 2020, up from an average 0.5% for 2019 as forecast by Trading Economics.
Myanmar’s capital city is Nay Pyi Taw.
See also Myanmar’s Top 10 Imports and Top Asian Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook East Asia/Southeast Asia: Burma. Accessed on June 25, 2021
Forbes 2020 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 25, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 25, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 25, 2021
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 25, 2021
The World Bank, Official Exchange Rate (LCU per US$, period average) – Myanmar. Accessed on June 25, 2021
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 25, 2021
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Myanmar. Accessed on June 25, 2021
Wikipedia, Myanmar. Accessed on June 25, 2021
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 25, 2021
WorldOMeter, Myanmar Population. Accessed on June 25, 2021