Myanmar opens up for food trade opportunities
The Australian government will be opening an Austrade office in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) this year as part of the Australian Government’s drive to help businesses break into one of Asia’s newest emerging and growth markets.
At the same time, a new report by the firm Stanton Emms Strategy Consultants, has described Myanmar as one of the world’s “food surplus” countries, “producing between 55 and 60 milliontonnes of agrifoods per annum.”
The report highlighted that while Myanmar is strong in the supply of basic food products, but the opposite is the case for processed food and drinks. According to the report, more than 50 per cent of import value in 2011 comprised processed food and drinks, a situation that has developed since 2005 because Myanmar’s local food and drink industry has not had the capabilities, or the capacity, to deal with the rapidly growing middle income and lower income fringe demand.
Australia’s Minister for Trade and Competitiveness Dr Craig Emerson said that the Austrade office in Myanmar would be opened in Yangon, Myanmar’s commercial centre. When fully operational, it will be staffed by an Australian Trade Commissioner supported by a number of locally-engaged business development managers.
“Recognising and responding quickly to new opportunities in Asia’s growth and emerging markets is central to putting the Asian Century White Paper into practice,” Dr Emerson said.
The Australian Government last year lifted travel and financial sanctions against Myanmar in response to political reforms in the country.
Dr Emerson said that Austrade’s presence in the country will consolidate a commercial relationship while giving assistance to Australian companies looking to invest in the country.
“Myanmar is strategically located between growth centres such as India, China and Thailand, and is South East Asia’s largest mainland nation. The country has extensive natural resources, including oil and gas, and a growing population,” Dr Emerson said.
The Government also announced in the White Paper the appointment of a dedicated Ambassador to ASEAN, to be based in Jakarta. Last year it announced an Austrade-managed consulate in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and plans to open a new consulate in Chengdu, China.
The Austrade office in Yangon is expected to help Australian companies establish a presence in Myanmar’s promising but challenging market, forecast to grow at around 6 per cent in 2013.