Aussie survey finds private firms face hurdles in doing business

Red tape and access to skilled labour are significant constraints for businesses in Myanmar, according to a survey by the Australia – Asean Chamber of Commerce.

Three-quarters of the respondents to the survey on Myanmar identified government bureaucracy as a significant hurdle while two-thirds identified access to skilled labour as a constraint.

Respondents to the survey – the fourth Australian Business in Asean Survey – also noted weak law enforcement as a continuing challenge to doing business in the country.

These three high-impact business challenges increased in 2019 compared to 2017. However, the survey showed that the political and currency conditions have become more stable.

Office rentals, personal security and labour costs were also seen by respondents as less of a challenge.

Australia-Myanmar Chamber of Commerce CEO Jodi Weedon told the Myanmar Times that compared to the rest of the region, Aussie firms do not see corruption in Myanmar as being more of a challenge.

“More than 90pc of the Australian business community here in Myanmar (who responded to the survey) has been operating in the Myanmar market for less than 10 years with 50pc entering the market in the past five years demonstrating the scale of opportunity which may exist,” she noted.

Weedon said the survey “is intended to provide factual guidance as to how Australia, as a close neighbour in the Asean region, is well placed to become a partner of choice for countries in Southeast Asia”.

She said the survey identifies new trade and investment opportunities across the region. “With regard to Myanmar, the survey indicated that there does continue to be great diversity among Australia’s business presence here. Of the businesses who responded to the survey, one-quarter are professional services firms, however, Australian businesses also have a significant representation in travel and hospitality as well as financial services,” Weedon added.

According to the survey, Australian businesses in Myanmar are predominantly country offices focused on the local market.

Proximity to customers, economic conditions in the country, and proximity to suppliers were the top growth drivers, the survey’s respondents said.

On March 4, the Ministry of Commerce together with the Directorate of Investment Administration (DICA) and the International Trade Center (ITC) launched the Trade and Investment Project (TIP) with the aim of boosting Myanmar’s business ecosystem by improving trade and investments.

The TIP’s strategic focus include improving trade competitiveness and business environment through updating National Export Strategy (NES), supporting investments in building productive capacities as well as expanding public and private trade and investment support services to micro, small and medium enterprises.

The project will also improve the investment promotion through the Myanmar Investment Promotion Plan, and enable priority sectors growth through specialized support for the private sector.


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