Remarks as prepared for Paul Pleva, Office Director, Economic Growth, USAID/Burma, for the Webinar on
International Market Opportunities for Myanmar Agricultural Products
11 November 2020
The United States Agency for International Development strongly supports Myanmar’s on-going process of economic transformation. We see enormous potential for this transformation to create greater prosperity in Myanmar and strengthen friendship with the U.S.
A key piece in the economic transformation is finding and fostering new private sector business opportunities in the agriculture sector. USAID partners with Myanmar’s private sector to increase responsible investment and enable entrepreneurs to expand and grow their businesses.
Today we will be hearing about International Market Opportunities. These are the findings of a study completed by USAID Burma’s Feed the Future Agriculture and Food System Development Activity study. This study outlines a wide range of new export opportunities.
There are three key reasons USAID sees agriculture as an ideal entry point on many of the issues that are important to both Myanmar and the U.S.
First, agriculture growth is a fast route to increased prosperity and poverty reduction. The majority of Myanmar’s workforce is still engaged directly or indirectly in agriculture. If we can increase incomes in agriculture, the result is a widespread increase in wealth.
Second, a strong agriculture sector promotes food security. Unexpected natural disasters such as cyclones, droughts, and floods put many at risk of food shortages. Other disruptions, such as the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic, can and are disrupting food systems. A prosperous and diversified agriculture sector is a strong remedy to these problems.
Third, USAID supports agriculture because strong economic links between communities promotes Social Cohesion. Ethnic tensions have been a source of conflict in Myanmar over many decades. We believe that agriculture has the potential to create business linkages across communities such that conflict would be seen as detrimental to each group’s own interest, thus creating a true shared prosperity.
Myanmar has a wealth of market opportunities. In other sessions, we’ve addressed the opportunities closet to home: those in India, China and SouthEast Asia. Today our presenters will take us further abroad, and cover a range of opportunities in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, the European Union, the United Kingdom, the US, Canada, the Middle East , Australia and New Zealand.
Our presenters will cover where market demand is high and where Myanmar has logistical advantages. Additionally, the presentation outlines adjustment’s producers and processors need to consider to access these markets.
I suggest some action points:
First, enhance quality across the value chain to meet high-end market expectations. Again, the presentation outlines numerous opportunities. USAID is ready to support upgrades.
Second, where they exist, build on existing contacts and relationships, such as those established in the US, Germany, Japan, and the Netherlands.
Third, improve the systems of exporting. While this is not a focus of today’s conversations, the opportunities outlined need a strong enabling environment provided by the Government of Myanmar. For example, USAID is very encouraged by the attention the Government of Myanmar is giving to improving the systems for issuing Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary certificates.
We want to hear from you. You can fill out the Exporter Survey Form on the “Feed the Future Burma Agricultural and Food Systems Development Activity” Facebook page.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to today’s presentation.