Tips for doing business in Burma

Burma, also known as Myanmar . It is bordered by India, Bangladesh, China,Laos, and Thailand.  One-third of Burma’s total perimeter of 1,930 kilometres (1,200 mi) forms an uninterrupted coastline along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. At 676,578 km2 (261,227 sq mi), it is the 40th largest country in the world and the second largest country in Southeast Asia. Burma is also the 24th most populous country in the world with over 60.28 million people.


Food in Myanmar represents a mixture of Indian and Chinese cuisines, with local curries and soups adding a Burmese flair to the food. Rice is the staple food in Myanmar, making up approximately 75 percent of the local diet, according to Typically, meals are served at a dining table, with the individual pieces laid out so that diners can serve themselves and create their own combinations. A condiment made from preserved fish or prawn and chili powder accompanies most meals.

Table Manners

When dining in someone’s home in Myanmar, people usually sit on the floor or on a floor mat at low, round tables. Diners do not drink alcoholic beverages with their meals, but rather have juice, tea or water. Eating begins once all of the food is on the table, and diners should handle serving spoons with the left hand, which locals consider the clean hand. Forks and spoons have gained popularity in Myanmar, but many locals still eat with their fingers. Elderly diners and guests serve themselves first. Leaving rice on the plate signals to the host that the diner wants more rice.

Business Culture

Business relationships focus on building trust and friendship. If a business favor is received, the recipient must repay it at a later date. Business topics typically do not come up in conversation when two businessmen meet for the first time, but rather serve as an opportunity to evaluate strengths, weaknesses and personality. World Travel Guide indicates that most commercial business transactions in Myanmar occur in English, but business cards with Burmese translation can facilitate better communication. People in Myanmar have a custom of showing respect to their elders, which can create friction in business situations when a supervisor is younger than a subordinate.


Typical dress for men in Myanmar is a white shirt with no collar, an overcoat and a longyi, which is a garment made from a long piece of cloth folded and secured at the waist, resembling a sarong. Ladies in Myanmar usually wear dresses, often of silk or cotton, or blouses with a longyi. Both men and women often wear Western tops with the traditional longyi on the bottom. Female visitors should avoid shorts. They also should not wear T-shirts without proper undergarments.

Jaraswan Jarasjaruwan or Pear is a full-time MIM student. She got a Bachelor’s of Science from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. After she graduated, she worked as an educational consultant in Thailand for 2 years. Pear chose to study international business at Portland State University because she is interested in the business field and also the reputation of the university. Currently, Pear is studying Chinese as a third language. Also, she will choose Global Marketing as her specialization in the Master of International Management program.


Filed under Business and Asia, Pear's Entries

5 responses to “Tips for doing business in Burma

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