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Myanmar (Burma)

Myanmar

Since 2011, the EU has progressively re-engaged with Myanmar, including in its trade and investment relations. It has:

  • lifted sanctions with the exception of an arms embargo
  • granted preferential access to the EU market
  • launched negotiations for an investment protection agreement.

On 1 June 2016, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission adopted a joint communication. This lays out a plan for coherent EU engagement and intensified cooperation with the country to overcome the challenges it faces.

On 20 June 2016, the Council adopted conclusions on an EU strategy with Myanmar welcoming this Communication.

Myanmar is a member of WTO since 1995 and, as a least developed country, benefits from the EU's Everything But Arms scheme, which grants unilateral duty free, quota free access for all exports, except arms and ammunition to the EU.

Trade picture

In 2019:

  • Total trade between the two partners equalled €3.4 billion.
  • The EU ranked as the third biggest trade partner of Myanmar (after China and Thailand), accounting for 11% of the country’s total trade. Myanmar is the EU’s 69th largest trading partner (accounting for 0.1% of the EU’s total trade).
  • The EU imported goods worth €2.8 billion from Myanmar. The key EU imports from Myanmar are dominated by textiles, footwear and agricultural products.
  • The EU exported goods worth almost €609 million to Myanmar. The key EU exports to Myanmar are dominated by machinery, transport equipment and chemicals.

EU-Myanmar: Trade in goods

Trade in goods 2017-2019, € billions
Year EU imports EU exports Balance
2017 1.4 0.5 -0.9
2018 2.1 0.5 -1.5
2019 2.8 0.6 -2.2

EU-Myanmar: Trade in services

Trade in services 2016-2018, € billions
Year EU imports EU exports Balance
2016 0.3 0.3 -0.0
2017 0.3 0.3 -0.0
2018 0.2 0.2 0.1

EU-Myanmar: Foreign direct investment

Foreign direct investment 2018, € billions
Year Inward stocks Outward stocks Balance
2018 -0.1 0.5 0.6

Unless otherwise mentioned “EU” concerns for all indicated years the current European Union of 27 Member States.

Date of retrieval: 22/04/2020

More statistics on Myanmar

EU and Myanmar

The EU and Myanmar launched negotiations for an investment protection agreement in 2013.

The agreement would:

  • offer investors from both sides a predictable and secure investment environment
  • protect them against discrimination
  • ensure they are treated in a fair and equitable way and
  • ensure that investments will not be unfairly taken away without fair compensation.

A sustainability impact assessment complemented the negotiations. This evaluated the potential economic, social, environmental, and human rights impact of the future agreement.

The EU is committed to the conclusion of an ambitious investment protection agreement that will allow investors to benefit from the enhanced legal certainty and promote responsible investments from the EU to contribute to Myanmar's sustainable development. The negotiations were put on hold in 2017 as negotiations cannot happen in isolation of the broader context, in particular the EU’s serious concerns on human rights.

As a Least Developed Country (LDC), Myanmar benefits from the most favourable regime available under the EU's Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), namely the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme.

The EU’s GSP regulation allows vulnerable developing countries to pay fewer or no duties on exports to the EU, giving them vital access to the EU market and contributing to their growth. The EBA scheme is one arm of the GSP, which grants duty-free and quota-free access to the EU for all products (except arms and ammunition) for the world's Least Developed Countries, as defined by the United Nations.

Myanmar benefits significantly from its preferential access to the EU market under the EBA. Its duty free exports increased from €573 million in 2015 to an estimated €2.8 billion in 2019. Main exports (2019 estimates) to the EU are textiles (over € 2.2 billion), footwear (€176 million), rice ( €153 million) and precious stones (€72 million).

The GSP Regulation provides that trade preferences may be suspended in case of "serious and systematic violation of principles" laid down in the human rights and labour rights Conventions listed in Annex VIII of the Regulation.

Labour rights initiative

Since May 2015, the EU has participated in the "Initiative to promote fundamental labour rights and practices in Myanmar" with the Governments of Myanmar, the United States, Japan, Denmark and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The initiative aims to:

  • help promote fundamental rights for workers in Myanmar
  • create opportunities for businesses in Myanmar
  • help transform the country into an attractive trading and investment partner.

Myanmar and ASEAN

Myanmar is one of the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The countries as a group are the EU's third largest trading partner outside Europe, after the US and China.

The ASEAN region is a dynamic market with some 640 million consumers. Myanmar is one of the three LDCs in the ASEAN region.

The EU co-operates closely with ASEAN as a whole. For example, the EU-ASEAN Trade and Investment Work Programme outlines activities to bring the two regions closer together, and includes regular discussions between ministers and senior officials on trade and investment.

Ensuring better access for EU exporters to the dynamic ASEAN market is a priority for the EU. Negotiations for a region-to-region trade and investment agreement between the EU and ASEAN were launched in 2007 and paused by mutual agreement in 2009 to give way to a bilateral format of negotiations.

These bilateral trade and investment agreements were conceived as building blocks towards a future region-to-region agreement.

More information on ASEAN

Trading with Myanmar