Obama Sees Potential in Myanmar, Frontier Data Corp Sees Price Convergence Toward Regional Market Fundamentals

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Frontier Data Corp, an emerging and frontier market focused data collection firm, recently collected and analyzed its standard set of ground-level pricing data in Yangon, Myanmar, and found that it is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Prices of goods, services and real estate are 2-6 times higher than in nearby Vietnam. As market liberalization continues, FDC expects price convergence in line with more mature regional markets.

Yangon is one of the most expensive cities in the world right now. The iPhone 5 is going for $1100 - even in Baghdad you can get one for $600.

Frontier Data Corp, an emerging and frontier market focused data collection firm, recently collected and analyzed its standard set of ground-level pricing data in Yangon, Myanmar with some surprising results. “After our collection teams gathered over fifty different consumer level price points from various industries, we realized what an impact the repeal of sanctions will have on the average citizen,” said Dr. Anthony Vinci, CEO of Frontier Data Corp (FDC).

“Right now you can buy rice for a dollar a kilogram but a desktop computer sells for over $450 and the iPhone 5 is going for over $1100 in Yangon,” he said, “to put it in perspective, even in Baghdad you can get an iPhone for $600.”

After sending its collection teams across the city to collect data, FDC came up with a number of interesting observations:

  • In the second week of November we recorded 8% deposit rates on offer at main street Myanmar commercial banks, which indicates that banks are offering high rates to depositors despite reporting from Western news sources that the Burmese government has capped rates at levels lower than the current inflation rate (5.3% according to the IMF).
  • Concrete’s current price of $355.34 USD per metric ton is offered in Myanmar at a markup of approximately 6.5x the current price in Vietnam, which suggests that the building materials industry is heavily influenced by the state and that prices should begin converging on regional market prices following liberalization.
  • Similarly, a liter of cooking oil costs $3.42 in Myanmar compared to $2.08 USD in Vietnam, we anticipate a wider range of consumer goods producers and distributors to enter the Myanmar market and consumers to benefit from resulting competition. More concerning is the lack of good data for investors in Myanmar. The US government has expressed its concern about the “lack of transparency in Myanmar’s investment environment and the military’s role in the economy”. Owing to its system of multiple exchange rates and the military government’s control of large economic enterprises, the informal economy continues to grow.

“By having teams on the ground and collecting granular data on a weekly basis for a sustained period of time, Frontier Data Corp is uniquely placed to capture real-time economic data in raw form and free of reporting-related manipulations and distortions typical to a transitioning command economy such as Myanmar’s.” said Dr. Vinci.

Unique Data, Global Insights. The FDC Network Delivers Unique, Granular and Continuous Data on Frontier Markets through our robust network of trusted, on-the-ground sources. By tracking and quickly relaying local economic data sets, which include 100+ data points consisting of construction trends, consumer sentiment, retail prices, in-port waiting times, and more, our clients around the globe enjoy a decided advantage in modeling future outcomes and gauging market and political risk.

If you’d like more information on this topic, or to schedule an interview with Frontier Data Corp, please contact Robert Murray at info(at)frontierdatacorp(dot)com or call at 855.935.5997.

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