Burma: Economy#

Since the transition to a civilian government in 2011, Burma has begun an economic overhaul aimed at attracting foreign investment and reintegrating into the global economy. Economic reforms have included establishing a managed float of the Burmese kyat in 2012, re-writing the Foreign Investment Law in 2012 to allow more foreign investment participation, granting the Central Bank operational independence in July 2013, enacting a new Anti-corruption Law in September 2013, and granting licenses to nine foreign banks in 2014 and four more foreign banks in 2016.

The government’s commitment to reform, and the subsequent easing of most Western sanctions, led to accelerated growth in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, growth slowed because of political uncertainty in an election year, summer floods, and external factors, including China’s slowdown and lower commodity prices. Burma’s abundant natural resources, young labor force, and proximity to Asia’s dynamic economies have attracted foreign investment in the energy sector, garment industry, information technology, and food and beverages. Pledged foreign direct investment grew from $4.1 billion in FY 2013 to $8.1 billion in FY 2014.

Despite these improvements, living standards have not improved for the majority of the people residing in rural areas. Burma remains one of the poorest countries in Asia – approximately 26% of the country’s 51 million people live in poverty. The previous government’s isolationist policies and economic mismanagement have left Burma with poor infrastructure, endemic corruption, underdeveloped human resources, and inadequate access to capital, which will require a major commitment to reverse. The Burmese government has been slow to address impediments to economic development such as insecure land rights, a restrictive trade licensing system, an opaque revenue collection system, and an antiquated banking system. The newly elected government, led by AUNG SAN SUU KYI, will likely focus on accelerating agricultural productivity and land reforms, modernizing and opening the financial sector, and improving fiscal management.

Economic Facts#

GDP (purchasing power parity)$311.1 billion (2016 est.)
$287.8 billion (2015 est.)
$268.9 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$68.28 billion (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate8.1% (2016 est.)
7% (2015 est.)
8.7% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$6,000 (2016 est.)
$5,600 (2015 est.)
$5,200 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
Gross national saving16.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
15.2% of GDP (2015 est.)
17.9% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 57.9%
government consumption: 6.2%
investment in fixed capital: 37.7%
investment in inventories: 0.2%
exports of goods and services: 24.4%
imports of goods and services: -26.4% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of originagriculture: 26.3%
industry: 27.5%
services: 46.2% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productsrice, pulses, beans, sesame, groundnuts; sugarcane; fish and fish products; hardwood
Industriesagricultural processing; wood and wood products; copper, tin, tungsten, iron; cement, construction materials; pharmaceuticals; fertilizer; oil and natural gas; garments; jade and gems
Industrial production growth rate12.2% (2016 est.)
Labor force37.15 million (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 70%
industry: 7%
services: 23% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate4.8% (2016 est.)
5% (2015 est.)
Population below poverty line32.7% (2007 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 2.8%
highest 10%: 32.4% (1998)
Budgetrevenues: $8.944 billion
expenditures: $10.99 billion (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues13.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-3% of GDP (2016 est.)
Fiscal year1 April - 31 March
Inflation rate (consumer prices)7% (2016 est.)
10.8% (2015 est.)
Central bank discount rate9.95% (31 December 2010)
12% (31 December 2009)
Commercial bank prime lending rate15% (31 December 2016 est.)
13% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$18.37 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$13.8 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$21.22 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$16.01 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$NA
Current account balance-$5.665 billion (2016 est.)
-$4.879 billion (2015 est.)
Exports$10.49 billion (2016 est.)
$9.135 billion (2015 est.)
note: official export figures are grossly underestimated due to the value of timber, gems, narcotics, rice, and other products smuggled to Thailand, China, and Bangladesh
Exports - commoditiesnatural gas; wood products; pulses and beans; fish; rice; clothing; minerals, including jade and gems
Exports - partnersChina 37.7%, Thailand 25.6%, India 7.7%, Japan 6.2% (2015)
Imports$13.96 billion (2016 est.)
$12.49 billion (2015 est.)
note: import figures are grossly underestimated due to the value of consumer goods, diesel fuel, and other products smuggled in from Thailand, China, Malaysia, and India
Imports - commoditiesfabric; petroleum products; fertilizer; plastics; machinery; transport equipment; cement, construction materials; food products� edible oil
Imports - partnersChina 42.2%, Thailand 18.5%, Singapore 11%, Japan 4.8% (2015)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$8.913 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$8.463 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Debt - external$9.041 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$7.407 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Exchange rateskyats (MMK) per US dollar -
1,205.9 (2016 est.)
1,162.62 (2015 est.)
1,162.62 (2014 est.)
984.35 (2013 est.)
853.48 (2012 est.)