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Myanmar Sugar SMEs: History, Technology, Location and Government Policy

Discussion Papers


by San Thein and KUDO Toshihiro
April 2008


Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) engaged in sugar processing in Myanmar appeared in the last decade of the socialist era. An acute sugar deficit, restricted trade in white sugar, and high demand from the conventional dairy business led to the growth of sugar SMEs by appropriate blending of semi-finished products (syrup) in the fields, which were then processed in vacuum pans and centrifugals to obtain white sugar. This became a tradable commodity and sugar SMEs grew in clusters in big cities. They are family-owned businesses. However, they lack the bagasse-based power generation.

In recent years, large modern sugar factories operated by private and military companies have emerged as key players. The current shortage of fuel feedstock and competition for raw materials have become driving forces that shift sugar SMEs from market-oriented to raw material-oriented locations. Internal competition among key players made sugar price highly volatile, too. Being placed on a level playing field, the whole industry should be upgraded in terms of price and quality to become export-oriented.

Keywords: Myanmar (Burma), small and medium enterprise (SME), state-owned economic enterprise (SEE), sugar, sugarcane, resource-based location, market economy, Mandalay, Pyawbwe
JEL classification: L11, L52, L66, N85

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