Guide to: Doing business in Yangon

JUNE 21, 2018 - 1:33 PM

With economic reforms in place and the labour force expected to swell to 10 million by 2030, Yangon is fast becoming one of the prime cities for business in the region.

According to a report by PwC, the old capital is the primary driver of Myanmar’s economic growth, accounting for 23 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product. Of the 2,233 enterprises in the country under the Myanmar Investment Law (MIL), 64 per cent are based in Yangon, and foreign enterprises comprise more than half. Manufacturing is the dominant sector for both foreign and local firms, accounting for 73 per cent of total enterprises in Yangon.

PwC outlines some of the business must-knows in Yangon.

1. Regulations

Companies in Yangon have to be registered as one of the following:

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• Company limited by shares

• Company limited by guarantee

• Unlimited company

• Business associations

• Other corporations entitled under other applicable laws

Investments in Yangon may also require approvals (e.g. construction permit) from several regulatory bodies, depending on the nature of the project. Draft application forms are available on the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) website.

2. Tax regime

Corporate Income Tax

Registered companies are subject to an income tax rate of 25 per cent. Companies listed on the Yangon Stock Exchange are taxed at 20 per cent.

Commercial Tax

Commercial tax is generally imposed at a rate of 5 per cent on goods and services produced or rendered within the country, and on imported goods. It is zero-rated on all exports, except for electricity (8 per cent) and crude oil (5 per cent). Some companies may be granted commercial tax exemption during certain stipulated periods.

Personal Income Tax for Foreigners

Resident and non-resident foreigners’ salaries are taxed at the same progressive rate of zero to 25 per cent. A foreigner living in Myanmar for 183 days or more during an income year is considered a resident.

Special Economic Zones (SEZs)

Primary attractions of the SEZs include incentives such as a five to seven years corporate tax holiday depending on the zone, 50 per cent relief on income tax for the second five years and investors being able to lease land up to 75 years (i.e. 50 years plus 25 years extension)

Double Taxation Agreements

If the government enters into an agreement with any foreign or international organisation relating to income tax, and if the agreement is notified, the terms of the said agreement will be followed. Tax treaties have been concluded with India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Republic of Korea, Thailand, United Kingdom, Vietnam, Laos and Bangladesh.

3. People

A daily minimum wage of MMK 4,800 (S$4.80) - the lowest in South-east Asia - for eight working hours applies to enterprises across all sectors and industries, excluding small businesses with less than 10 employees.

When appointing personnel in an organisation, preference is given to citizens. Investors shall appoint only Myanmar citizens for unskilled labour. For the skilled citizen workers and technicians, the foreign investors must enter into an employment contract within 30 days of appointment.

4. Operational Costs

Industrial Land

With a monthly rental rate of US$0.13 per sq ft, the Thilawa Special Economic Zone has seen an influx of investments due to its relatively reasonable price compared to other industrial estates in Yangon. The Yangon Industrial Park and Mingalardon Industrial Park are regarded as good locations for logistics due to their proximity to the airport.

In most cases, the bidding price of industrial land in Yangon should be treated with scepticism where rates are unrealistically high due to speculation.

Offices

In the central business district, the average monthly rental rate ranges from US$42 to 50 per sq m. The overall monthly rate in Yangon starts from US$23 per sq for a low-end office to US$58 for a high-end office.

Logistics

River transport operators charge the least for freight - 30 per cent cheaper than railways. However, the distance between Yangon and Mandalay by boat is twice than that by rail.

Truck rates are 60 per cent higher on the Yangon-Mandalay corridor and 100 to 160 per cent higher on other corridors. Yangon ports are the main ports in Myanmar, handling 85 per cent of total import and export cargo in the country. Cargoes are mainly transported by road in the region.

Electricity

Commercial meter installation charges are currently MMK 950,000 (S$943) for 10kW and MMK 1,500,000 (S$150) for 30kW, with an additional 15 per cent of wiring service fee. The government has announced that the tariff will be increased, though the new rates has yet to be finalised.

Read the full report.