Myanmar

With more than 50 million people, Myanmar (or Burma), has the 12th largest population in Asia. Many investors see Myanmar as the last frontier. It has only opened up its economy since 2012 and its population was isolated from the world market for decades. With elections recently peacefully completed and the new government expected to promote even further economic integration, the future for Myanmar’s poor population is said to be bright. Myanmar is connected to the coastlines of Bangladesh on the west and Thailand on the southeast. In the north, Myanmar borders with India in the west, and China and Laos in the east. Its political capital is Naypyidaw, while Yangon is the largest city and economic centre. The long coastline and the vast network of rivers in the deltas make fisheries and aquaculture an important source for employment and food security. The agricultural sector, wood products and textiles largely drive the economy but Myanmar also has abundant natural resources, such as jade and gems, oil and natural gas.

Read more about economics, politics and infrastructure.

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In Myanmar
  • Container Port
  • Factory

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Willem van der Pijl
Willem van der Pijl
Director

Myanmar's seafood sector

Myanmar its total production of fishery and aquaculture products counted 5.31 million metric tonnes in 2014 – 2015. Seafood from marine water accounted for more than half (54%) of the total production, freshwater production accounted for 46% (DoF 2015). Marine fish stocks are heavily under pressure and catches decline gradually. Domestic consumption of fishery and aquaculture products is high. It is the most important source of animal protein in Myanmar with 20-40 kg/head/year, depending on the region. The fishery and aquaculture sector employs about three to four million workers. Traditionally men are involved in fishing and wholesale trading, whereas women are occupied with processing and vending in local markets. Aquaculture is relatively underdeveloped compared to neighbouring countries, providing opportunities for further development. Monoculture of tilapia and production of other species, such as climbing perch, grouper and seabass, are expected to increase rapidly in the near future.

Aquaculture and Fisheries production (tonnes)

Source: FAO (2016)

Fisheries and aquaculture production data in Myanmar is acknowledged to be inaccurate. While some categories may be overestimated, others are underestimated. FAO currently supports Myanmar to improve its data collection methods and system.

In general terms, deviating from other countries, recent growth in production is attributed to fisheries and not to aquaculture in Myanmar. However, with marine resources under pressure, it is expected that catches will go down in the near future. While opportunities manifest in aquaculture.

Production per species in 2014 (tonnes)

Source: FAO (2016)

According to FAO statistics, fisheries production from marine and fresh water resources has equally grown with 30% in the previous five years. Although there are no better estimates, it is not likely that these statistics represent a realistic trend as catches have been reported to decline.

Fresh water fish culture represents more than 90% of total fish culture and mainly consists of the production of various carp species in polyculture systems. Further growth from fresh water culture is expected to be fuelled by a transition to monoculture of tilapia in smaller ponds and cages, and by the introduction of other fish species such as climbing perch.

Seafood export markets in value

Trade Map (2016), International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis

According to DoF only about 10% of the total fisheries and aquaculture production is exported. Since Myanmar started to open up its economy in 2012, exports increased with more than 25%. The most important export markets are still in Asia and the Middle East, but others such as the US start to pick up. Exports to the US increased from zero in 2012 to almost US$ 50 million in 2014. These exports consisted for almost 50% of crabs (US$ 24 million), almost one quarter of shrimps (US$ 12 million) and a bit less (US$ 11 million) of fish.

Export data from the DoF and Trademap are not aligned. One of the major differences is that border trade is not completely included in Trademap. According to DoF, trade with China and Thailand represents respectively US$ 169 mln (76,000 tonnes) and US$ 127 million (127,000) tonnes, while according to Trademap China and Thailand only represented US$ 51 mln and US$ 26 million. China imports mainly high value products such as crab and eel, whereas Thailand mainly imports low value fish products.

Export product composition in 2015 (US$ mln)

Trade Map (2016), International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis

According to the DoF in 2015 the top ten species according to value were: 1) rohu (64,000 MT or US$ 60 mln), 2) live mud crab (16,500 MT or US$ 49 mln, 3) live eel (7,500 MT or US$ 26 mln), 4) P. monoceros (10,300 MT or US$ 23 mln, 5) tiger shrimp (4,200 MT or US$ 20 mln), 6) hilscha (6,100 MT or US$ 15 mln), 7) Ribben fish (9,200 MT or US$ 15 mln), 8) soft shell crab (2,800 MT or US$ 15 mln), 9) fishmeal (21,000 MT or US$ 13 mln), and finally 10) P. indicus (2,500 MT or US$ 11.5 mln).

The statistics from Trademap shed some more light on exports from the seaports. Exports of crustaceans represent both shrimp and crab. In 2014, crab took account for about 30% (more than US$ 53 mln) while shrimp accounted for over 70% (more than US$ 132 mln). Almost half of the shrimps were exported to Japan (US$ 63 mln). Other main export markets were Hong Kong (US$ 23 mln), China (US$ 11 mln), and the United States (US$ 11 mln). Frozen crabs were mainly exported to the Umited States (US$ 24 mln), while fresh crabs were mainly exported to China (US$ 18 mln).

Frozen whole fish, including both marine fish and freshwater fish were mainly exported to the United Kingdom (US$ 27 mln), Saudi Arabia (US$ 26 mln), Malaysia (US$ 12 mln), and the United States (US$ 11 mln) in 2014. Frozen fish fillets (US$ 23 mln) were mainly exported to Saudi Arabia.

Trade and Investment regulations

Myanmar scores 167 out of 189 on the World Bank its Doing Business In Index. The EU is a growing export market for Myanmar as a result of political reform. The European Union has imposed investment and trade sanctions. This section will provide you with all up to date need to know information about trading and investing in seafood in Myanmar. The following topics are covered: click the links below to learn more!

  1. GSP facilities and Free Trade Agreements
  2. Setting up a representative or branch (service company) office
  3. FDI regulations and setting up a subsidiary company
  4. Taxes and duties
  5. Custom procedures
  6. Arbitration law
  7. Cultural do’s and don’ts

Do you want to start business in Myanmar? Contact us!

Sector support programs

Programmes currently being implemented

  • MYFISH

    This is an DFAT-ACIAR funded project that aims to further develop Research & Development in the fisheries sector. It aims to do so by characterizing the inland fisheries and aquaculture sectors, piloting innovative technologies and building the research capacity of DoF and universities.

    WorldFish
  • MYNUTRITION

    This IFAD funded project aims to improve the nutrition and livelihoods of poor, rural households in aquatic agricultural systems in Myanmar. It aspires increased intakes of micronutrient-rich small fish and vegetables from home production and increased income.

    WorldFish
  • Developing a Sustainable Seafood Industry Infrastructure in Myanmar (Burma),

    This USAID funded project focuses on the aquaculture sector and aims to develop human and physical capacity for sustainable aquaculture. It works together with the universities of Pathein and Yangon and the MFF.

    University of Arizona
  • MYSAP

    This EU funded project aims to support Myanmar with developing its aquaculture sector. This project focuses on small holders and inclusive supply chain development.

    GIZ
  • MYCULTURE

    By introducing low cost polyculture combining small indigenous species of fish with mostly carps, the LIFT funded project intends to increase income, food and nutrition security for resource-poor households in the Ayeyarwady Delta and the central dry zone (CDZ).

    WorldFish
  • Myanmar Trade Development Program (TDP)

    This project, funded by the EU, aims to support seafood processors and aquaculture operators to comply with EU regulations, especially with regard to food safety.

    GIZ
  • Super YY Monosex Tilapia

    This project aims to introduce the Super YY male technology into Myanmar. The project is supported by the government from the Netherlands.

    Solidaridad and Til-aqua
  • Tailor Made Training (TMT)

    This project, supported by the Dutch government aims to develop aquaculture curricula for various universities.

    Wageningen UR
  • Seafood Export Coaching Program

    This program, funded by the Dutch government focuses at coaching members of MPEA to better access the EU market.

    CBI
  • Responsible Industry Development in the Fishery Sector

    This project, partially funded by DANIDA, aims to improve social conditions in the marine and inland fishery sectors.

    ILO
  • Sustainable Coastal Fisheries Support Program

    DANIDA aims to support the DoF to develop a co-management system for Myanmar's fisheries sector. The focus is on small-scale fisheries.

    DANIDA
  • Small Scale Aquaculture Extension Project (SAEP)

    This project focuses at improving inland aquaculture practices, especially in the CDZ, and to build institutional capacities.

    JICA
  • Community-Led Coastal Management in the Gulf of Mottama (CLCMGoMP)

    This Swiss Development Cooperation funded project aims to improve livelihoods in the Gulf of Motoma by diversifying livelihoods and introducing co-management practices.

    Helvetas and IUCN