July 2020, Yangon

The global pandemic puts the Myanmar’s economy to the test. The effect of this test on export sectors has been explored through Myanmar COVID-19 Impact Survey.  The Market Research Association (MRA) of Myanmar, jointly with the International Trade Centre (ITC), surveyed nearly 300 country’s exporters, operating in the 12 priority sectors of the National Export Strategy (NES) 2020-2025. The survey report presents an overview of unfolding sector-specific consequences and suggests options for their mitigation and economic recovery.

All the companies interviewed reported negative effect by the pandemic; the extent of this effect varies by sector. Nearly 30% of the businesses were hit strongly, while the effect on 46% was moderate. The tourism sector suffered the most, followed by the textile and garment sector. Micro-companies (with less than five employees) turned out to be most vulnerable under current circumstances. Further, the survey showed that companies in Myanmar faced demand reduction from their top five buyers due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Resulting from the containment measures and lockdown order, many companies had to reduce the logistics services and shut down the businesses temporarily. Delays due to increased border checks/closures, additional sanitary regulations/procedures, logistics arrangements,  shipping,  new circulars and temporary measures from the Covid Committee were the most cited issues. Around 40% of the companies practiced teleworking during the crisis, which was the most popular coping strategy adopted by surveyed companies. The second most popular strategy was temporarily reducing employment. Increasing marketing efforts and online selling were also common.

The survey revealed that 44% of companies found it difficult or very difficult to access information and benefits on COVID-19 related SME assistance programmes from the government. The majority of businesses used social media such as Facebook Page and Group as their primary source of information for these benefits. Websites, especially of government and business associations, were the second most relied source of information while a few also gathered their news primarily from television and newspapers.

Overall, the survey highlights the challenges and difficulties that the exporters face, and the necessary support and recommendations for the resumption of export activity. The survey aims to assist in developing the effective policy tools for recovery that could be furnished for the respective sectors. Full reports (English/Myanmar) will be downloaded at here.