Services are very important to Myanmar and currently represent about 40% of the economy. Myanmar is currently a net importer of tradable services and generally encourages trade in services.
The WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) provides a comprehensive set of rules for international trade in services. GATS defines four ways services are traded:
(1) cross-border supply (for example, architectural, legal or accounting services transmitted from Thailand or Singapore to Myanmar);
(2) consumption abroad (for example, a tourist travels from Germany to visit Myanmar);
(3) commercial presence (for example, a foreign bank or telecommunications company establishes a local office in Myanmar); and
(4) presence of natural persons (for example, a software consultant temporarily visits Myanmar to provide consulting advice to a local business).
As trade in services primarily involve foreign investment and the movement of people to undertake trade in services, we have provided below information related to investment and tourist as well as business visas below.
The Foreign Investment Law 2012 provides the framework for foreign direct investment in a variety of services sectors, through investors should consult various sector-specific laws, such as the Financial Institutions Law for Banking rules and regultions. Though foreign direct investment (FDI) is allowed up to 100% in a few sectors, FDI is not allowed in other sectors, such as in private traditional hospitals; trading of traditional herbal raw materials; research and laboratories for traditional medicines; ambulance transportation service; establishment of health-care centres for the aged; restaurant contracts, cargo transportation contracts, and cleaning and maintenance contracts on trains; agencies; generating electric power below 10 megawatts; and publishing and distribution of periodicals in the language of ethnic peoples, including in the Myanmar language. FDI is allowed in the form of a joint venture in the ownership of private, specialist or traditional medicine hospitals. FDI up to 100% is allowed in telecommunications and tourism (e.g., hotels) and is allowed in services sectors such as banking and insurance. Please consult the relevant laws regulating a particular service sector in the Legal Documents section of this website.
The Ministry of Immigration provides the overall framework for tourism and business-related visas. Both tourism and business visas are available upon arrival for visitors of certain countries or through application through a Myanmar Embassy. A visa application form can be downloaded and completed here. A complete set of visa requirements including fees and timeframes for issuance of visas, can be found on the Ministry of Immigration's website.
ASEAN also has provided for liberalization of services trade under the ASEAN Framework Agreement for Services. Negotiations have focused on sectors such as tourism, air transport, business, construction, distribution, education, environment, financial, health care, and telecommunications. For information about ASEAN trade in services, click here.