Benefiting from a young, abundant and cheap labour force, a strategic position in one of the world's most dynamic regions and an extraordinary wealth of high-quality timber, Myanmar has established itself as a competitive exporter of high-quality forest products.
- The timber industry is one of Myanmar's most competitive sectors with a GDP of US$60 million in 2018.
- The sector is expanding rapidly with a growth rate of 29% for 2017-2018.
- More than 6% of all private sector companies are active in the production of wood products.
- The industry is a major contributor of employment, accounting for 4.1% of the country’s overall employment in 2019.
Main export markets
Myanmar’s market orientation for forest products is characterized by a high degree of concentration of exports in traditional neighboring countries. Together, India, China and Thailand together capture more than two third of the sector’s exports value with market shares of respectively 38%, 19% and 11%. Indian buyers are primarily sourcing sheets for veneering. The Chinese market is importing less sophisticated products, consisting of large volumes of wood in the rough, sawn timber and wood charcoal. Thailand mainly imports sawn timber and charcoal from its Burmese counterparts.
Other main importing countries include Italy (8.2%), the United States (3.7%), Japan (2.7%), Germany (2.6%), Singapore (1.9%) and South Korea (1.9%).
Main export products
Myanmar is home to the gold-standard in teak (Tectona grandis), the most valued and sought-after in tropical timbers. Padauk (Pterocarpus macrocarpus), Pyinkado (Xylia sp.), Htauk kyant (Terminalia sp.), Gmelina sp., and Rubberwood (Hevea brasiliensis) are other valuable wood resources developed in the country.
While Myanmar produces a wide range of forest products, the industry remains largely concentrated in the low value-added segment and consisting mainly of semi-finished products such as sawn timber and sheets for veneering, deriving their competitiveness in price-points and cost.
Recently, the production and export of higher value-added products such as joinery, carpentry, plywood veneer panels and similar laminated woods, and wood furniture, have tended to develop, albeit modestly.
A leading sector
Forest products constitutes 2.3% of total goods export earnings, for an exported value of US$ 354 million.