The Economy of Burma

The Economy of Burma

Burmese Economy

Economy - overview: Burma, a resource-rich country, suffers from pervasive government controls, inefficient economic policies, and rural poverty. Despite Burma's increasing oil and gas revenue, socio-economic conditions have deteriorated because of the regime's mismanagement of the economy. The economy suffers from serious macroeconomic imbalances - including rising inflation, fiscal deficits, multiple official exchange rates that overvalue the Burmese kyat, a distorted interest rate regime, unreliable statistics, and an inability to reconcile national accounts to determine a realistic GDP figure. Most overseas development assistance ceased after the junta began to suppress the democracy movement in 1988 and subsequently refused to honor the results of the 1990 legislative elections. In response to the government of Burma's attack in May 2003 on AUNG SAN SUU KYI and her convoy, the US imposed new economic sanctions in August 2003 including a ban on imports of Burmese products and a ban on provision of financial services by US persons. Further, a poor investment climate hampers the inflow of foreign investment. Foreign investors have shied away from nearly every sector except for natural gas and power generation. The business climate is widely perceived as opaque, corrupt, and highly inefficient. The most productive sectors will continue to be in extractive industries - especially oil and gas, mining, and timber - with the latter causing significant environmental degradation. Other areas, such as manufacturing and services, are struggling with inadequate infrastructure, unpredictable import/export policies, deteriorating health and education systems, and endemic corruption. A major banking crisis in 2003 shuttered 20 private banks and disrupted the economy. As of 2008, the largest private banks operated under tight restrictions, limiting the private sector's access to formal credit. The September 2007 crackdown on prodemocracy demonstrators, including thousands of monks, strained the economy as the tourism industry, which directly employs about 500,000 people, suffered dramatic declines in foreign visitor levels. In November 2007, the European Union announced new sanctions banning investment and trade in Burmese gems, timber, and precious stones, while the United States expanded its sanctions list to include more Burmese government and military officials and their family members, as well as prominent regime business cronies, their family members, and associated companies. Official statistics are inaccurate. In July 2008 the President signed into law the Tom Lantos JADE (Junta's Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008, imposing new targeted sanctions on the regime. Published statistics on foreign trade are greatly understated because of the size of the black market and unofficial border trade - often estimated to be as large as the official economy. Though the Burmese government has good economic relations with its neighbors, better investment and business climates and an improved political situation are needed to promote serious foreign investment, exports, and tourism.


GDP - real growth rate: 0.9% (2008 est.) 3.4% (2007 est.) 3.4% (2006 est.)

GDP - per capita:

GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 40.9% industry: 19.7% services: 39.3% (2008 est.)

Population below poverty line:

Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.8% highest 10%: 32.4% (1998)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

Labor force: 30.04 million (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 70% industry: 7% services: 23% (2001)

Unemployment rate: 9.4% (2008 est.)

Budget: revenues: $983.6 million expenditures: $1.775 billion (2008 est.)

Industries: agricultural 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 rate: 7.1% (2008 est.)

Electricity - production: 5.961 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Electricity - production by source:

Electricity - consumption: 4.289 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)

Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)

Oil - production: 21,900 bbl/day (2007 est.)

Oil - consumption: 43,140 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Oil - exports: 5,000 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Oil - imports: 22,180 bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil - proved reserves: 50 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)

Natural gas - production: 12.6 billion cu m (2006 est.)

Natural gas - consumption: 3.62 billion cu m (2006 est.)

Natural gas - exports: 9.9 billion cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves: 283.2 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)

Agriculture - products: rice, pulses, beans, sesame, groundnuts, sugarcane; hardwood; fish and fish products

Exports: $6.149 billion f.o.b. 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 (2008 est.)

Exports - commodities: natural gas, wood products, pulses, beans, fish, rice, clothing, jade and gems

Exports - partners: Thailand 44.3%, India 14.5%, China 7.1%, Japan 5.7% (2007)

Imports: $3.589 billion f.o.b. 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 (2008 est.)

Imports - commodities: fabric, petroleum products, fertilizer, plastics, machinery, transport equipment; cement, construction materials, crude oil; food products, edible oil

Imports - partners: China 33.7%, Thailand 19.1%, Singapore 15.5%, South Korea 5.8%, Indonesia 5.2%, Malaysia 4.2% (2007)

Debt - external: $7.17 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:


Currency code:

Exchange rates: kyats (MMK) per US dollar - 1,205 (2008 est.), 1,296 (2007), 1,280 (2006), 5.761 (2005), 5.7459 (2004) note: unofficial exchange rates ranged in 2004 from 815 kyat/US dollar to nearly 970 kyat/US dollar, and by yearend 2005, the unofficial exchange rate was 1,075 kyat/US dollar; data shown for 2003-05 are official exchange rates

Fiscal year:

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