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 products imported into the Southeast Asian nation paid for in stronger local currency relatively less expensive for Myanmar’s importers in the most recent year.
Myanmar’s most valuable imported products include refined petroleum oils, phones including smartphones, motorcycles and heavy construction machinery.
From a continental perspective, 90.2% of Myanmar’s imports by total cost were purchased from fellow Asian countries. European trade partners supplied 5.4% of imports purchased by Myanmar while 2.5% worth of goods originated from North America.
Smaller percentages came from exporters in Oceania (1%) led by Australia and New Zealand, Latin America (0.7%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, and Africa (0.1%).
Given Myanmar’s population of 53.2 million people, its total $18 billion in 2020 imports translates to roughly $340 in yearly product demand from every person living in the Southeast Asian nation also known as Burma.
Myanmar’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in Myanmar’s import purchases during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Myanmar.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$2.7 billion (15.3% of total imports)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $2 billion (10.9%)
- Machinery including computers: $1.8 billion (9.8%)
- Vehicles: $1.2 billion (6.6%)
- Iron, steel: $1.1 billion (6.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $771.5 million (4.3%)
- Manmade staple fibers: $746.4 million (4.2%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $707.8 million (3.9%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $647.5 million (3.6%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $592.5 million (3.3%)
Myanmar’s top 10 imports accounted for over two-thirds (68.1%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Imported electrical machinery and equipment posted the fastest-growing increase in cost among Myanmar’s top 10 import categories via a 56.6% uptick from 2019 to 2020.
In second place for improving import purchases were articles made from iron or steel, a category which expanded 34%.
Burmese imports of animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes delivered the third-fastest gain up 32%.
Internationally sourced mineral fuels including oil represent the laggard among the top 10 Burmese imports, dropping -26.2% year over year.
Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level. Information presented under the adjacent virtual folder tabs labeled with product groupings is at the more granular 4-digit level.
In 2020, Burmese importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related goods.
- Processed petroleum oils: US$2.4 billion (down -30.2% from 2019)
- Petroleum gases: $156.6 million (up 273.2%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $41.7 million (up 48.1%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $34.5 million (down -25.4%)
- Natural bitumen, asphalt, shale: $25.6 million (down -35.4%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $25 million (down -24.5%)
- Electrical energy: $12.9 million (down -37.5%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $1.1 million (down -69.7%)
- Distilled tar: $524,000 (up 33%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $467,000 (down -57.4%)
Among these import subcategories, Burmese purchases of petroleum gases (up 273.2%), coal, solid fuels made from coal (up 48.1%) and distilled tar (up 33%) grew from 2019 to 2020.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported mineral fuels including oil among businesses and consumers in Myanmar.
In 2020, Burmese importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electrical items including consumer electronics.
- Phone system devices including smartphones: US$526.2 million (up 57.6% from 2019)
- Electric generating sets, converters: $429.3 million (up 600.6%)
- Electric motors, generators: $146.4 million (up 67.3%)
- Insulated wire/cable: $141.6 million (up 8.1%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $135.8 million (up 22.2%)
- Electric storage batteries: $76.1 million (up 2.9%)
- Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $68.3 million (up 43.4%)
- Electric motor parts: $59.4 million (up 243.2%)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $42.9 million (up 8.2%)
- High-voltage switches, fuses: $42.8 million (up 43.5%)
Among these import subcategories, Burmese purchases of electric generating sets or converters (up 600.6%), electric motor parts (up 243.2%) then electric motors and generators (up 67.3%) grew at the fastest pace from 2019 to 2020.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported electronics among businesses and consumers in Myanmar.
In 2020, Burmese importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery.
- Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers): US$236.3 million (up 43.8% from 2019)
- Move/grade/scrape/boring machinery: $134.6 million (up 7.6%)
- Gas or water generators: $111 million (up 5,257%)
- Machinery parts: $107.9 million (up 21.9%)
- Harvest/threshing machinery: $93.6 million (up 6.2%)
- Computers, optical readers: $91.5 million (up 41.7%)
- Air conditioners: $88.1 million (up 17.4%)
- Liquid pumps and elevators: $62.4 million (up 14.5%)
- Refrigerators, freezers: $60.2 million (up 15.9%)
- Engines (diesel): $42.8 million (up 3.8%)
Among these import subcategories, Burmese purchases of gas or water generators (up 5,257%), heavy machinery like bulldozers, excavators or road rollers (up 43.8%) then computers including optical readers (up 41.7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2019 to 2020.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery including computers among businesses and consumers in Myanmar.
In 2020, Burmese importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles.
- Motorcycles: US$333.3 million (down -10% from 2019)
- Cars: $289.2 million (up 30%)
- Trucks: $154.2 million (down -0.1%)
- Tractors: $145.4 million (up 57.2%)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $113.4 million (down -15.4%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $60.2 million (up 5.9%)
- Trailers: $30.8 million (up 32.9%)
- Motorcycle parts/accessories: $23.3 million (down -9.9%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $14.4 million (down -55.2%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $10.4 million (down -24.2%)
Among these import subcategories, Burmese purchases of tractors (up 57.2%), trailers (up 32.9%) then cars (up 30%) grew at the fastest pace from 2019 to 2020.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported vehicles among businesses and consumers in Myanmar.
See also Myanmar’s Top 10 Exports, China’s Top Trading Partners and Top Asian Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook East Asia/Southeast Asia: Burma. Accessed on June 25, 2021
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 25, 2021
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 25, 2021
The World Bank, Official Exchange Rate (LCU per US$, period average) – Myanmar. Accessed on June 25, 2021
Wikipedia, Myanmar. Accessed on June 25, 2021