Doing Business in Burma
Exporting to Burma
President Obama announced the National Export Initiative (NEI) http://www.export.gov in his 2010 State of the Union address, with the goal of doubling American exports by 2014. U.S. Embassy Rangoon is committed to supporting American companies that are interested in starting or growing their exports to Burma. In this section, you will find a quick description of Burma as an export market and suggestions for getting started.
Exports of American products are generally permitted under existing law, with the exception of exports of defense articles and defense services destined for Burma. The Embassy strongly recommends that potential exporters consult with local and U.S.-based attorneys as well as the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) prior to engaging in any business in Burma. OFAC maintains a helpful website that provides an overview of prevailing sanctions and restrictions to doing business in Burma, located at:
Here are a few practical first steps that you can take to evaluate opportunities in Burma:
- Visit the export.gov page on Burma as well as the U.S. Commercial Service Market Research Library to get a helpful overview of economic conditions and opportunities in Burma.
The combined resources include:
- Country Commercial Guide: Burma (PDF 316 KB)
- Industry overviews
- Market updates
- Multilateral development bank reports
- Webinar and conference transcripts
- Best markets
- Industry/regional reports
- Contact your local U.S. Export Assistance Center for advice and support on exporting to Burma. You can contact a Trade Specialist near you at: http://export.gov/eac/index.asp
- Contact your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Starting a business can be a challenge, but there is a wide range of help available to you. SBDCs are partnerships primarily between the government and colleges/universities that are administered by the Small Business Administration and that provide education services for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
- Contact related business support organizations. There is not currently an American Chamber of Commerce in Burma; however, other private organizations and business associations provide information and networking opportunities that can help you to establish the connections and gather the information you need to make informed business decisions, including the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand and the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council.
After reviewing the information on this website and the referenced resource documents, you may contact the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon via email with additional questions or requests for meetings.
Investing in Burma
U.S. law has restricted any new investments into Burma by American citizens or nationals since May 20, 1997, including through joint ventures or by owning shares of a third-party. However, on May 17, 2012, Secretary Clinton announced that the United States would take steps to authorize new U.S. investment in Burma, as well as the export of U.S. financial services to Burma. For the latest information on investing in Burma, please visit the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) at their website listed on our welcome page. Given the dynamic environment, American companies should consult with both U.S. and Burmese legal counsel prior to engaging in business to ensure that proposed activities do not violate applicable U.S. laws. A list of local professional services, including legal advisors, is available in the Burma Country Commercial Guide (PDF 441 KB).
Working in Burma
The Burmese government strictly controls travel to and within the country. A passport and visa are required for all travelers entering Burma. However, as of June 1, 2012, the Burmese government has introduced a visa-on-arrival program for business travelers and tourists. Business visas are valid for 70 days and cost $50, while Entry visas are valid for 28 days and cost $40. See http://www.mip.gov.mm/visaonarrival/ for the terms and conditions that apply to these visas-on-arrival. As these rules are new and continue to evolve, travelers are advised to not only check the website above but also to contact the nearest Burmese diplomatic mission to verify current visa requirements. There is no visa-upon-arrival for tourists.
Individuals may conduct initial exploratory business meetings on a Tourist visa but are advised to obtain a Business visa before engaging in any other business activities. Travelers who over-stay their valid visa are required to pay a fine of $3/day upon departure at the Airport Immigration Office. An over-stay greater than 30 days increases the fee to $5/day. Children over seven years and listed in the passport of a parent must hold separate visas.
Information about the current business visa requirements as well as other information may be obtained from the Embassy of the Union of Myanmar in Washington, DC, or the Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations in New York. Overseas inquiries may be made at the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Burma (Myanmar).
Embassy of the Union of Myanmar
2300 S Street, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: 202- 332-3344/4350
Permanent Mission of Myanmar to the United Nations
10 East 77th Street
New York, NY 10021
U.S. companies requiring visits of Burmese businesspersons to the United States should note that current visa bans apply to certain individuals and that clearance of some visa applicants can take considerable time.
State Department Visa Website: http://travel.state.gov/visa/index.html
United States Visas.gov: http://www.unitedstatesvisas.gov/
U.S. Citizen Services, Embassy Rangoon: http://burma.usembassy.gov/service.html
The latest State Department travel advisories can be found at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_1764.html
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is an important anti-corruption tool designed to discourage corrupt business practices in favor of free and fair markets. The FCPA prohibits promising, offering, giving, or authorizing the giving of anything of value to a foreign government official where the purpose is to obtain or retain business. These prohibitions apply to U.S. persons, both individuals and companies, as well as companies that are listed on U.S. exchanges. The statute also requires companies publicly traded in the U.S. to keep accurate books and records and implement appropriate internal controls. More information on the FCPA can be found here: http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa/
A party to a transaction seeking to know whether a proposed course of conduct would violate the FCPA can take advantage of the opinion procedure established by the statue. Within 30 days of receiving a description of a proposed course of conduct in writing, the Attorney General will provide the party with a written opinion on whether the proposed conduct would violate the FCPA. Not only do opinions provide the requesting party with a rebuttable presumption that the conduct does not violate the FCPA, but DOJ publishes past opinions which can provide guidance for other companies facing similar situations.
- BusinessUSA.gov is the U.S. Government's official web portal to support business start-ups, growth, financing, and exporting.