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Our relationship with Myanmar

New Zealand's relationship with Myanmar (formerly Burma) has grown significantly in the past few years. Interaction was very limited in the decades the country was under military rule. In 2011 a new military backed civilian government began a process of reform, and since then our relationship has been steadily expanding. New Zealand established a representative office in Myanmar in 2013, which was upgraded to a full embassy in 2014.

With a population of 51 million, Myanmar is the fifth largest ASEAN economy, and is expected to grow in strength and influence. Continuing to develop our relationship with Myanmar is important to New Zealand to achieve our ASEAN objectives of stronger diplomatic and trade links in the region. Myanmar's planned transport and energy links will place it at the crossroads of major regional trading routes, especially into China and India, the world’s two most populous nations. 

Political and economic reform, and reintegration into the international community, is expected to increase incomes and create a new Myanmar middle class. This will provide significant trade and economic opportunities, including growing New Zealand as a destination for tourists, students and investors from Myanmar.

In the last 10 years, New Zealand has taken in more refugees from Myanmar than any other country. Between 2003 and 2013 we accepted 1,900 refugees from Myanmar, and today around 2,200 people born in Myanmar call New Zealand home.  

Trade

2014 statistics 

Total trade in goods 

$ 27.4 million

 

Exports to Myanmar

$ 25.6 million 

Top exports: milk powder, butter and dairy spreads, live poultry

Imports from Myanmar

$ 1.9 million

Top imports: dried legumes, wood

GDP

US$63 billion

 
GDP per capita US$1,221 (NZ GDP per capita is US$43,837)
GDP growth  8.7%  

New Zealand’s trade relationship with Myanmar is small but growing. Exports have increased from $9 million in 2009 to more than $25 million in 2014. Dairy products make up 85% of our exports.

An increasing number of New Zealand companies are operating, or interested, in the Myanmar market - particularly in dairy, agribusiness, consultancy services and telecommunications. As both countries are members of the ASEAN Australia New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, tariffs are less than 15% for most products.

We import a limited amount from Myanmar as its manufacturing sector is still very underdeveloped. This is expected to improve as investment flows into the Myanmar economy. New Zealand doesn't have any bilateral trade sanctions against Myanmar products, and has never imposed these.

Free trade agreements with Myanmar

We have a regional free trade agreement with Myanmar:

We're also negotiating another regional free trade agreement that includes Myanmar:

NZ Inc ASEAN strategy

As a member of ASEAN, Myanmar is included in the NZ Inc ASEAN strategy. NZ Inc is the Government’s plan to strengthen New Zealand’s economic, political and security relationships with key international partners.

Find out more about the NZ Inc ASEAN strategy

Aid

Our new aid programme in Myanmar focuses on developing agriculture, and lifting knowledge and skills - particularly in governance and English language.

Find out more about our aid programme with Myanmar

Embassies

Recent official visits

New Zealand to Myanmar
  • November 2014: Prime Minister John Key visited Myanmar for the East Asia Summit (EAS) meeting
  • August 2014: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully visited Myanmar for the East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers Meeting and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)
  • October 2013: Speaker of the House of Representatives David Carter led a delegation of four Members of Parliament
  • March and July 2013: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully visitedfor bilateral meetings and to assess aid requirements in the state of Rakhine
  • 2012: Prime Minister John Key met with President Thein Sein, Lower House Speaker Thura U Shwe Mann and National League for Democracy Chair Aung San Suu Kyi
Myanmar to New Zealand 
  • May 2014: The Speaker of the Myanmar Upper House, U Khin Aung Myint, led a delegation of four parliamentarians. The programme included formal talks with the New Zealand Speaker David Carter and an introduction to the New Zealand House of Representatives
  • March 2013: The Speaker of the Myanmar Lower House, Shwe Mann, led a delegation of five parliamentarians
  • March 2013: President Thein Sein led a delegation of twelve Ministers, including Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin
  • 2012: Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin visited for bilateral talks