Currently, foreign companies are not allowed to conduct direct trade in Myanmar. Therefore, if foreign companies want to export their products to Myanmar, they must seek Myanmar partners with import and export licences to distribute goods. Licensed foreign direct investment (FDI) companies are only to import, not export, materials for domestic production.
Companies are allowed to import, export and distribute goods as licensed. However when they want to export or import goods, they must apply for voyage-based export - import permits from the General Department of Trade under the Myanmar Ministry of Commerce. The permits are valid for three months and non-renewable.
Consumer goods in Myanmar are mainly distributed by supermarkets, wholesale markets, retail stores and distribution systems run by some distributors. Citi Mart Holding is now the largest supermarket operator in Myanmar with 13 chain stores called Citi Mart, Ocean and Northern Point. Besides, Junction invested by Shwe Taung Group has made presence in Yangon, the new capital of Naypyitaw, and Mandalay. Its popular trade centres include Junction 8, Junction Maw Tin, Junction Zawana and Junction Square.
Myanmar also has smaller supermarket chains such as Blazon, Asia World, Orange and Sein Gay Har. In general, retail prices are quite high due to high import and shipping costs. MK, MDG and Super One are general distribution companies that Vietnamese companies can seek partnerships to boost exports.
Under the laws, some consumer products are prohibited from import to protect domestic enterprises. Therefore Myanmar companies have chosen unofficial cross-border trade. Goods from China and Thailand are imported into Myanmar through border gates. Some importers have import and export permits from the General Department of Border Trade under the Ministry of Commerce. However, many importers do not have because they evade taxes and import prohibited goods. Therefore, many import-banned goods are still displayed for sale in Myanmar market stores and supermarkets. The Government would rather ignore this fact in order to meet consumer demand. In the future, the Government is likely to abolish this regulation in accordance with ASEAN provisions.
Now, more than 2,000 companies are allowed to export and import in Myanmar. The list of some companies allowed to import and export various goods, from electronics, minerals, forest products to consumer goods and apparels can be found at http://ttnn.com.vn/nuoc-lanh-tho/42/danh-sach-nha-nhap-khau.aspx. Vietnamese companies can directly contact these companies to seek export opportunities or the Vietnamese Embassy in Myanmar for support.
On waterway transportation, Myanmar has nine seaports, with Yangon Port being the biggest. Foreign freight is usually shipped to Sule, Bo Aung Kyaw, Asia World and Myanmar Industrial ports. In the next five years, Yangon Port is expected to upgrade and expand 41 jetties to serve 43 vessels at the same time and handle 80 million tonnes of cargo each year. In general, cargo clearance procedures are complicated, time-consuming and expensive; thus, Myanmar shipping companies are likely to be responsible for carrying out customs clearance services. Myanmar trade partners usually accept to sell on FOB Yangon basis and buy on CIF Yangon basis.
Myanmar has three main rivers, namely the Ayeyarwady, the Thanlwin and the Sittang, with a total length of 14,900 km and has 537 river-going freighters. Besides, many other smaller rivers create a waterway transportation network in Myanmar. Its exports like timber and minerals are transported by river to the Port of Yangon and shipped to other countries.
On airways, Yangon International Airport in Myanmar can serve 2.7 million passengers a year and the capacity is expected to reach 3.8 million passengers a year soon. Besides, it has 17 domestic airports. Myanmar has six 6 airlines including one State-run airline - Myanmar Airways; four private airlines - Air Mandalay, Air Bagan, Asian Wings and Kanbawza, and one joint venture airline - Myanmar Airways International (MAI). Thirteen foreign airlines are flying to Yangon International Airport, including Air China, China Southern Airline, Thai Airways International, Indian Airlines, Qatar Airways, Silk Air, Malaysian Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Mandarin, Jetstar Asia, Phuket Airline, Thai Air Asia and Vietnam Airlines.
Airborne freights are luxuries, short-lived goods, fresh food, apparels, parts, post parcels, and personal belongings. Seafood accounts for 80 percent of goods transported by air and apparels account for about 10 percent. However, the proportion of air-transported goods is quite low because most aircraft are small, like ATR and Fokker, while the costs are quite high.
On railway, Myanmar has 6,550 km of railway, most built during the British ruling. Due to poor upgrading, train speed is very slow. However, with government subsidies, railway shipping costs are quite low.
On overland transportation, Myanmar has 115,830 km of roads. Since 2002, the Myanmar Government has built 700 km of highways connecting its three largest cities of Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw and Mandalay, to facilitate the mobility of goods and people.