Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are still using traditional methods and are not in a position to meet international standards, according to business observers.
“Take a look at the country’s economy, SMEs account for 85 to 90 per cent of trade. Most of them are family businesses. Only a small percentage are commercial businesses. Family businesses show no interest in exports. Most family businesses concentrate on the survival of the family. They pay attention only to covering living costs,” said Dr Wah Wah Maung, deputy director-general from the Foreign Economic Relations Department of the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development.
He suggested that entrepreneurs should prepare for exporting to the Asean economic community and compare the competitiveness of their produce with the international market.
“The Asean Free Trade Area is going to emerge soon. Myanmar will have to compete with countries from the east Asia in addition to Asean. So the private sector should prepare for it,” said Wah Wah Maung.
There would soon be massive inflows of capital, produce and money when the Asean Economic Community (AEC) emerged and foreign products would dominate the market if Myanmar’s SMEs did not prepare, he said. Currently, SMEs were facing many challenges such as financial difficulties, ensuring product quality and the maintaining their market share.
“SMEs will not get any opportunities from the AEC if they cannot make joint ventures with foreign companies with the use of foreign direct investment. Imports will surpass exports,” Set Aung, vice-governor of the Central Bank of Myanmar, told a forum called “SME Financing and Financial Policy” last December.