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Listing 42 publications.

Regional Consultation Workshop on "The GMS Transport Information Connectivity"

Regional Consultation Workshop on "The GMS Transport Information Connectivity"

Category: Trade and Investment Facilitation
Pages: 52
Year: 2017
Link: Download


Focus Group Discussion on Financial role for sustainable development in ASEAN

Focus Group Discussion on Financial role for sustainable development in ASEAN

Category: SOUTHERN ECONOMIC CORRIDOR (SME), Trade and Investment Facilitation
Pages: 39
Year: 2017
Link: Download


Study on market & value chain mapping

Study on market & value chain mapping

Category: Trade and Investment Facilitation, SOUTHERN ECONOMIC CORRIDOR (SME)
Pages: 109
Year: 2017
Link: Download


National Consultation report on Enabling Regulatory Environment for Facilitating Cross-Border Trade Along the GMS East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC)

National Consultation report on Enabling Regulatory Environment for Facilitating Cross-Border Trade Along the GMS East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC)

Category: Trade and Investment Facilitation, RLED-EWEC Publications
Pages: 46
Year: 2017
Link: Download


Myanmar Business Survey : Data Analysis Policy Implications

Myanmar Business Survey : Data Analysis Policy Implications

Category: Research Papers, Trade and Investment Facilitation
Year: 2016

Written by Mekong Institute

Myanmar  is  emerging  from  decades  of  military  rule,  central  planning  and  economic  isolation  as  it implements political  and  economic  reforms  and,  as  a  result,  faces  fewer  international  sanctions.  The country  has  great potential for rapid development due to its vast natural resources, abundant labour force and geostrategic location

Capitalizing  on  these  assets  to  achieve  its  goal  requires  well-implemented  regulatory  and  institutional reform. To  assist  in  these  efforts,  ESCAP  and  OECD  conducted  a  multi-dimensional  policy  review  of Myanmar  from

 the  end  of  2012  in  coordination  with  the  Government  of  Myanmar.2  During  the  policy  review,  the  lack  of information  on  the  business  conditions  on  the  ground  was  found  to  be  a  serious  impediment  to  the  development of  appropriate  polices.  To  address  this  issue,  ESCAP  and  OECD  carried  out  a  business  survey  jointly  with the  Union  of  Myanmar  Federation  of  Chambers  of  Commerce  and  Industry  (UMFCCI).

 The  survey  provides  a  rich  dataset  of  more  than  3  000  frms  in  all  sectors  and  geographic  regions  to  help  in understanding  the  characteristics  of  frms  on  the  ground,  their  business  environment  and  the  challenges  they face.  This  publication  explores  the  survey  results  in  depth,  in  order  to  develop  policies  that  address  these challenges  and  promote  private  sector  development  in  Myanmar.

 The  survey  results  are  discussed  from  various  key  perspectives  of  businesses  in  order  to  identify  effective policy  prescriptions.  They  include  the  business  environment,  market  conditions,  innovation,  human  resources, access  to  fnance,  productivity,  corruption,  agribusiness  and  food  industries,  which  are  briefy  summarized  below. 

1. Business  Environment 

The  development  of  an  enabling  business  environment  is  crucial  to  the  promotion  of  growth,  productivity, employment  and  well-being.  Although  the  country  has  instituted  various  reforms  since  the  early  1990s  the regulatory  and  policy  framework  remains  fragmented.  Permission  from  parallel  line  ministries  is  often  required and  coordination  is  reportedly  lacking.  This  has  led  to  the  growth  of  a  large  informal  sector,  which  makes conditions  very  diffcult  for  small  and  medium-sized  enterprises  (SMEs).  The  survey  results  have  revealed  wide-spread  dissatisfaction  with  several  aspects  of  the  business  environment. Corruption,  access  to  skilled  labour,  technology  and  access  to  land  are  most  frequently  cited  as  very  severe obstacles  faced  by  businesses  in  Myanmar.  Access  to  fnance  is  also  found  to  be  a  major  obstacle,  especially by  SMEs.  Although  infrastructure  such  as  access  to  electricity  and  water  supplies  are  not  rated  as  severe obstacles  overall,  they  are  more  severe  in  some  geographical  regions. The Government of Myanmar will therefore need to streamline administrative procedures for obtaining registration, licences  and  permits  perhaps  by  providing  a  “single-window”  service,  which  will  also  reduce  the  opportunities of  irregularities.  Infrastructure  must  not  only  be  improved  but  also  distributed  equitably  throughout  the  nation with  a  specifc  industrial  zone  development  plan.  Specialized  assistance  should  be  provided  to  entrepreneurs and  SMEs  in  addressing  issues  such  as  access  to  fnance  and  bureaucracy.


2. Market Conditons

As  the  country  opens  its  borders  and  prepares  for  regional  integration,  it  must  be  ready  to  face  opportunities  as  well as  challenges.  Enhanced  trade  could  bring  huge  benefts  to  the  economy  but  frms  will  also  face  stiff  competition.The  survey  shows  that  frms  still  have  more  localized  concerns,  as  they  do  not  fnd  issues  such  as  foreign competition  and  international  sanctions  to  be  very  severe  obstacles.  Firms  are  also  ambivalent  with  regard  to the  launch  of  the  ASEAN  Economic  Community  (AEC).The  Government  must  spread  awareness  of  the  potential  benefts  and  challenges  of  regional  integration. Improving  productivity,  quality  and  management  is  crucial  to  being  able  to  compete  globally.  Access  to  foreign investors  and  trade  fnance  will  be  very  useful  for  SMEs.

3. Innovation

Innovation  is  widely  regarded  as  a  key  element  in  quickening  the  pace  of  development  and  growth  in  any country.  For  example,  the  use  of  transformative  technologies  such  as  the  Internet  has  been  shown  to  have dramatic  effects  on  gross  domestic  product  (GDP)  growth  in  many  developing  countries. As  frms  in  Myanmar  become  exposed  to  global  competition,  it  will  be  increasingly  important  for  them  to develop  innovative  products  or  services  as  well  as  utilize  technology  more  effectively.  However,  investment  in research  and  development  (R&D)  remains  low  in  Myanmar  and  the  country  has  performed  poorly  in  international rankings  of  innovation  capabilities. Firms  reported  in  the  survey  that  they  considered  innovation  to  be  important,  yet  few  in  fact  spend  much money  on  it.  Firms  do  not  appear  to  be  using  intellectual  property  (IP)  protection  as  much  as  they  should  with many  reportedly  relying  on  trust  between  staff  members  to  safeguard  their  innovations.  These  issues  could be  addressed  by  subsidizing  expenditure  on  R&D,  streamlining  patent  applications,  disseminating  information on  the  benefts  of  IP  protection  and  improving  enforcement  of  IP.

4. Human  resources

A  modern  economy  requires  a  workforce  that  is  well-skilled.  Myanmar  currently  spends  less  than  its  peers on  education  and  has  fewer  tertiary  graduates.  The  quality  of  education  is  also  of  concern. The  survey  helps  in  identifying  areas  where  skills  are  lacking.  Technical  and  professional  skills  are  needed in  the  manufacturing  and  services  sectors.  Computer  and  ICT  skills  are  required  by  micro-  and  small-sized frms.  Larger  frms  require  more  communication  and  interpersonal  skills.Although  Myanmar  provides  relatively  favourable  business  environment  to  women,  their  participation  in  the business  sector  can  be  further  enhanced  with  well-designed  public  interventions.  Such  actions  may  particularly focus  on  the  skill  development  of  women  entrepreneurs  and  managers.Addressing  these  challenges  requires  increased  funding  to  the  tertiary  sector  together  with  greater  accountability and  quality  assessments.  Vocational  training  institutes,  public  administration  and  management  schools  and e-education  programmes  could  be  developed  in  association  with  the  private  sector.

5. Access to finance

The  fnancial  sector  has  long  been  tightly  controlled  and  overly  regulated.  The  types  of  fnancing  instruments available  to  private  enterprises  are  limited  with  unreasonably  high  costs.  Many  turn  to  informal  money  lenders instead.  The  Government  has  attempted  reforms  but  the  pace  has  been  slow  as  it  is  a  diffcult  task.More  than  half  of  the  survey  respondents  reported  that  fnancing  options  were  inadequate.  Stringent  collateral requirements,  complicated  application  procedures,  small  loan  sizes  and  high  interest  rates  are  reportedly  the biggest  fnancing  obstacles.  Informal  lenders  provide  loans  at  very  high  interest  rates  and  require  greater  trust while  accepting  a  wider  range  of  collateral.The  Government  must  complete  the  reform  process  by  reducing  regulation  and  allowing  banks  more  fexibility. While  the  local  fnancial  sector  is  upgrading  rapidly,  the  Government  must  foster  their  institutional  capacity by  providing  various  technical  and  fnancial  assistance.  Foreign  banks  should  be  allowed  to  operate  in  the country  to  encourage  competition.  Informal  lenders  should  be  integrated  into  the  formal  system;  SMEs  should have  access  to  subsidized  loans. 

6. Productivity

After  decades  of  being  sheltered  from  global  competition,  productivity  remains  low  in  Myanmar.  The  economy is  still  dominated  by  agriculture,  which  is  still  a  low-productivity  sector.  Productivity  in  other  sectors  is  also  low by  international  standards.  Improving  productivity  is  crucial  to  achieving  rapid  growth. The  survey  shows  that  smaller  frms  tend  to  have  a  higher  level  of  productivity  (measured  as  gross  revenue per  worker)  compared  with  larger  frms.  Hotels  and  restaurants  report  a  much  higher  proft  margin,  on  average, compared  with  that  of  frms  in  other  sectors. Many  of  the  policies  discussed  above  will  also  have  an  impact  on  productivity.  Access  to  skilled  labour, fnance,  innovation  and  technology  will  lead  to  dramatic  improvements  in  productivity.  Further  interventions  at SOEs  (and  former  SOEs)  that  encourage  the  adoption  of  modern  managerial  and  production  techniques  and practices  will  also  be  useful  in  improving  productivity. 

7. Corruption

Corruption  remains  one  of  the  most  signifcant  challenges  facing  Myanmar.  The  Government  has  attempted reforms  through  a  new  Anti-Corruption  Law  and  Anti-Corruption  Commission;  however,  the  country  is  still ranked  156  out  of  175  in  Transparency  International’s  Corruption  Perception  Index  2014. Corruption  was  most  frequently  cited  as  a  very  severe  obstacle  by  the  frms  surveyed.  Bribery  is  reportedly more  common  among  larger  frms  as  well  as  frms  in  the  extractive  industries  sector.  Firms  that  pay  bribes, particularly  younger  frms,  do  so  because  they  fnd  red  tape  to  be  a  more  severe  obstacle  compared  to  frms that  do  not,  suggesting  that  red  tape  may  be  used  as  a  way  of  extracting  bribes. Although  regulatory  and  legal  approaches  are  important,  the  root  causes  of  corruption  must  be  addressed. Excessive  regulation  across  the  board  must  be  reduced;  administrative  processes  streamlined;  accountability of  public  offcials  enhanced;  and  transparency  improved. 

8. Agribusiness  and  food  industries 

The  agribusiness  and  food  industries  are  a  key  strategic  sector  in  Myanmar’s  socio-economic  development, having  long  played  an  important  role  within  the  nation’s  economy.  The  sector  has  several  unique  characteristics. They  are  dominant  industries  in  rural  areas  while  contributing  to  the  economy  through  exports  of  agro-products; thus,  the  sector  is  the  key  to  equitable  and  inclusive  development  in  Myanmar.  The  average  age  of  frms  in this  sector  is  older  than  those  in  other  sectors,  thus  confrming  its  status  as  a  traditional  industry  of  Myanmar. Whereas  the  sizes  of  frms  in  the  sector  are  relatively  bigger  than  frms  in  other  sectors,  the  agribusiness and  food  industries  appear  to  make  less  proft  than  that  earned  by  businesses  in  other  sectors.  The  sector relies  on  informal  lenders  who  are  available  in  rural  areas.  Some  special  interventions  in  this  sector  may  be appropriate  for  enhancing  its  exporting  contribution  as  well  as  rural  development. 

Conclusion

Myanmar  faces  several  challenges  in  its  transition  to  a  modern  economy.  The  information  in  this  publication provides  the  much-needed  perspective  of  businesses  on  the  ground  in  Myanmar,  the  conditions  they  experience and  the  obstacles  they  face.  The  policy  suggestions  contained  herein,  if  implemented,  will  address  these obstacles  and  help  to  create  an  enabling  environment  that  will  allow  frms  to  fourish  and  will  promote  growth, employment  and  development  in  general.


3rd International Seminar and Business Matching

3rd International Seminar and Business Matching

Category: Project Completion Reports, Trade and Investment Facilitation
Year: 2015

Written by Mekong Institute

The Mekong Institute (MI) in cooperation with the provincial government of Khon Kaen province successfully organized the 3rd International Seminar and Business Matching on “Enhancing Silk Sector’s Competitiveness in Technology and Market through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)” on September 9-10, 2015 at Pullman Raja Orchid Hotel and Convention Center, Khon Kaen. The event aimed to introduce the best practices of CSR and provided a platform to showcase exquisite silk products and identify opportunities to engage with private companies for CSR outreach programs, as well as to enhance the capability and develop the potential of silk businesses in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), while sharing new technology of silk production systems and innovation of green supply chain. The seminar also incorporated a business matching activity with the goal of strengthening and expanding the network among silk entrepreneurs and businesses in some Northeastern provinces of Thailand, India, Japan and other GMS countries namely Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam and China. The ultimate goal of this event was to equip the participating companies and communities with tools and knowledge to better compete in Asia and the world market.  Moreover, the organizer of the event also developed a database of silk business owners-www.asiasilkbiz.com for business networking, to further enhance the competitiveness of silk business owners. The Asia Silk Alliance (ASA) was officially formed during the events with the discussion on the way forward of ASA that facilitating business networks and long-term cooperation among silk producers and exporters in Asia countries.  Upon this, the ASA Declaration was announced, agreed and singed among the representatives from Cambodia, China. Japan, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The leader of ASA is India, with the witness of the governor of provincial government of Khon Kaen, The Queen Sirikit Department of Sericulture (QSDS) and MI (Thailand) for signing of the Declaration. 


The 3rd International Seminar and Business Matching attracted a total of 207 participants, comprising of major silk brand owners and manufacturers, SME silk production groups, exporters and importers, intermediaries of silk products, leaders from silk-related government agencies, CSR experts and organizations, silk technologists and other entrepreneurs from different provinces of Thailand such as Roi-et, Khon Kaen, Mahasarakham, Kalasin, NakornRatchasima, Petchaboon, Chiang Mai, Mukdahan, Pitsanulok and Bangkok. 


Ten speakers were invited to present during the two-day event. They were from Thailand’s Department of Sericulture, CSR Asia, ASEAN CSR network, silk manufacturers and exporters, designers and some other GMS organizations. These experts shared experience and knowledge on the following four aspects:

 • Technology, innovation and silk market development

 • Opportunities for CSR initiatives and CSR practices in the silk sector

• CSR- related success stories

The business matching activity, both for CSR and silk sector matching has brought the opportunities for silk businesses in the region. Many possible cooperation and partnership were identified during the event. The participants exchanged the information on their business, various production technique and channels of distribution, as well as CSR initiative projects and activities.  Product samples were given to both up-and-down stream entrepreneurs. Some tangible partnership has led to business negotiations and deals.

The silk business database - www.asiasilkbiz.com has drawn interests of the participants to the event as they can always search for seminar materials and other participant information. Registered members can also use the website as a platform for sharing and exchanging information and possibly fostering their relationship and business. Promotion \of this website and the database would result in greater coverage of silk businesses in this region. 

The 3rd International Seminar and Business Matching yielded a satisfactory result. The evaluation has indicated that the international seminar and business matching activity were successful. The participants’ responses showed that they were neutrally satisfied about the event with a rate of 3.01 out of 4. The event scores in terms of effectiveness ranged from 3.07 to 3.25, indicating that the seminar was fully effective. Regarding the results on meeting its objectives, the event was scored between 3.11 to 3.31. Moreover, when compare this year’s results to the previous year, 40% increases in every part of the evaluation. 

However, recommendations and suggestions were provided for further improvement based on three aspects; the event, E-sarn silk sector and Asia Silk Alliance (ASA). It is summarized as followings;

• The international Event: Two models of the event next year were suggested. Firstly, on the theme of cultural tourism for silk sector in Asia with site visits. Secondly is Asia Silk Trade Fair or Asia Silk Expo 2016 which Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) will be one of the main sponsors of the event.

• E-sarn Silk Sector. Based on Porter’s five force analysis, it is found that E-sarn silk market is very attractive for competitors to compete for market share, therefore E-sarn silk entrepreneurs are required to emphasize on the bargaining for suppliers, also keep developing business strategic skills such as production standards, marketing and business communications.

• Asia Silk Alliance (ASA). There are two phases of ASA road map; the introduction stage, the 1st phase of 6 months to 1 year plan, MI will facilitate ASA in working plan, database management and website at the introduction stage. Khon Kean provincial government and other units/ organizations introduced will take part to support ASA in the long-term working process. 


International Seminar Cum Business Matching on Silk Development

International Seminar Cum Business Matching on Silk Development

Category: Trade and Investment Facilitation, Project Completion Reports
Year: 2014

Written by Mekong Institute

The Mekong Institute (MI) in cooperation with the provincial government of KhonKaen province successfully organized an “International Seminar Cum Business Matching on Silk Development” on September 12-13, 2014, Centara Hotel and Convention Center, KhonKaen. The event aimed at enhancing the capability and fulfilling the potential of silk businesses in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), while sharing points of view on global trends of silk products. The seminar also incorporated a business matching activity aiming at strengthening and expanding the network among silk entrepreneurs and businesses in some Northeastern provinces of Thailand, India and other countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region namely Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam and China. The ultimate goal of this event was to equip participating companies and communities with tools and knowledge to compete better in both ASEAN and the world market.


The International Seminar Cum Business Matching yields a satisfactory result reflected by the high-scored evaluation and successful business matching. The following parts are evaluation results, session summaries, and measurable results of the business matching activity.


The International Seminar Cum Business Matching attracted a total of 212 participants, including major silk brand owners and manufacturers, SME silk production groups, exporters and importers, intermediaries of silk products, leaders from silk-related government and international agencies, academia and other entrepreneurs from provinces such as Roi-et, KhonKaen, Mahasarakham, Kalasin, NakornRatchasima, Petchaboon, Chiang Mai, Mukdahan, Pitsanulok and Bangkok. The event aimed at gaining insight into needs and support required to furthering development of silk producers and exporters. Moreover, facilitating business networks and long-term cooperation among silk business owners in the ASEAN countries and beyond was one of the key objectives. The organizer of the event also wished to develop a database of silk business owners for business networking, to further enhance the competitiveness of silk business owners in ASEAN.


Enhancing Provincial and Local Chambers of Commerce Capacities in Trade and Investment Facilitation along the GMS North-South Economic Corridor (R3A & R3B)

Enhancing Provincial and Local Chambers of Commerce Capacities in Trade and Investment Facilitation along the GMS North-South Economic Corridor (R3A & R3B)

Category: Project Completion Reports, Trade and Investment Facilitation
Year: 2014

Written by Mekong Institute


With support from the ASEAN China Cooperation Fund, the Mekong Institute implemented the one-year project on ”Enhancing Provincial and Local Chambers of Commerce Capacities in Trade and Investment Facilitation along the GMS North-South Economic Corridor (R3A & R3B)” from July 2014 to June 2015. The project comprised of three components with series of capacity development activities, which included two modular trainings on ‘Business Research and Information Management’ and ‘Trade and Events Promotion’, and one ‘structured learning visit cum business matching’. A synthesis and evaluation workshop was conducted in May 2015 to evaluate the project results and to assess possibility of another phase of the NSEC project. 
The aim of the project is to promote business linkage and information network among members of provincial and local Chambers of Commerce and Industries (CCI) and Business Associations (BAs) along the North-South Economic Corridor – Route 3A and 3B (NSEC R3A&B). The NSEC connects four Mekong countries namely Yunnan Province of P.R. China, Myanmar, Lao PDR and Thailand. The ultimate goal of this project is to support inclusive and more equitable development on the NSEC. With regard to performance against the annual plan, all scheduled activities from July 2014- June 2015 have been implemented and the objective has been achieved. 


Certified Logistics Master Phase 1

Certified Logistics Master Phase 1

Category: Project Completion Reports, Trade and Investment Facilitation
Year: 2014

Written by Mekong Institute

With support from the Mekong-Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund, Mekong Institute (MI) is implementing a three-year project on ‘Certified Logistics Master’. MI has completed the first phase of the project from July 2015 to September 2015.The phase I of the project comprised of four components for capacity development purpose; including setting the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) logistical service standard, curriculum development, modular training and certification, and localization of core training. 

The overall objective of the project is to improve cross-border and transshipment logistics services through capacity development and accreditation of local Logistics Service Providers (LSPs) in the GMS economic corridors. The project also intended to decrease cross border logistics cost, improve quality and timely services of local logistics service providers, and integrate local logistics providers into the sub-regional, regional and global logistics chains. As per the activity, all the scheduled activities have been successfully implemented. 



The Compilation of the Atlas of Geographic Names on the Channel of the Lancang-Mekong River

The Compilation of the Atlas of Geographic Names on the Channel of the Lancang-Mekong River

Category: Completion Reports, Project Completion Reports, Trade and Investment Facilitation
Pages: 34
Year: 2014

Written by Mekong Institute

P. R. China, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Thailand are signatories to the 2000 Agreement for Coordinated Operation and Development of International Navigation on the Lancang-Mekong River and are all members of the Joint Committee on Coordination of Commercial Navigation on the Mekong-Lancang River (JCCCN), set up under the 2000 agreement. English is the adopted common language for communication in international navigation and commerce on the Lancang-Mekong, which borders all four agreement countries and also runs through two of them. Up to the present, the names Romanisation has not followed any standard, resulting in a variety of spelling and pronunciation of geographic names in English text or speech. This can give rise to uncertainty in communication involving Romanised geographic names, and present challenges in two types of situations: i) where swift action is required, such as a coordinated response to an urgent threat to life or property in navigation, or ii) where, in international trade in goods or services and related financing, effective and efficient decision making needs to be made on the basis of presented documents. The project to create a standard system of Romanised geographic names on the Lancang-Mekong is expected to reduce the uncertainty in communication and facilitate i) development of cross-border transport of goods and passengers; ii) related trade, tourism and financing; and iii) a cooperative development of commercial navigation on the Upper Mekong, all of which make up the core objectives of JCCCN.