Myanmar has gone through a triple transition: first, from authoritarian military system to democratic governance, second, from a centrally directed, closed economy to a market-oriented and an open one and third, from 60 years of conflict to peace in the border areas. The country has emerged from half century of isolation. Myanmar has always been an agriculture-oriented economy but the government has been laying building blocks, especially for the development of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). SMEs are "smaller than big business houses in terms of factors such as number of employees, asset base, annual revenue and the ownership structure".

The success of SME development depends on various external factors (namely, policy and regulatory environment, infrastructure, corruption, access to finance, governance, bureaucratic hurdles, business development services, among others) and internal factors (namely, experience, capacity, organizational culture, technology, among others). From another point of view, the success of SMEs can be influenced by the following factors: political, economic, social and technological. However, in Myanmar, there were other factors that played a role in mismanagement of the SMEs: lack of proper information as to the number of industries in the country and the lack of categorization of the industries.

Trademark Protection

Trademarks are signs used to distinguish in the marketplace the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. They allow the customers to identify a business as the source or point of origin of a product or service. Trademarks are the basis to create a company's brand and reputation. It helps in creating a relationship of trust with customers which helps in enabling the business to establish the loyal clientele and further, embrace the brand's goodwill. The exclusive rights granted by the trademark protection can benefit the SMEs in different ways. The registration provides exclusive rights to the registered owner to prevent third parties from marketing identical or similar products or services under a confusingly similar trademark. Further, it provides a long-term protection for the owners, subject to renewal. The proprietors of SMEs in the country can have a potential source of income by selling, assigning or licensing the associated rights with the trademarks. The funding institutions shall also easily facilitate the process for SMEs based on their established reputation and brand.

The country implemented a new trademarks law recently. Previously, the penal code defined a trademark as a "mark used for denoting that goods are the manufactured merchandise of a particular person". The scope was narrow because the definition did not include the marks used for services. There was no trademark legislation in Myanmar but a practice developed by which the person purporting to be the owner of the trademark can make a Declaration of Ownership and register the declaration with the office of the Register of Deeds and Assurances. The competent authorities have advised the foreign as well as domestic SMEs doing their business in Myanmar to follow this practice and register the trademark in the requisite manner. Moreover, in case of foreign companies, the owners must appoint a local agent. It is also advisable to publish a Cautionary Notice in a daily English language newspaper such as the New Light of Myanmar. Therefore, the protection of SMEs under the trademark regime of Myanmar, can prove to be of great importance for the enterprises and the owners.

Patent Protection

It is expensive to innovate. Further, it involves efforts and manpower to enable any proprietor to innovate and invent. Even after a strong legislation to protect the patents established in the territory, it becomes hard for the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to innovate and gain a patent over the requisite innovation. However, in case, such an enterprise gathers the requisite time, efforts and money to innovate and formulate an innovative product, then the required protection must be given under the already established legislation. SMEs competitiveness and national competitiveness are nearly linked and the policymakers must take the actions to protect the integrity and efforts of the SMEs.


The significance of global integration for SME development has been well recognized. With regard to this aspect, policymakers can serve as communicators and educators, as SMEs are often unaware of the latest developments in the global markets such as market demands, trade procedures, product/service standards and certifications and requirements for their participation in regional and global value chains. Public financial support may also be required to develop quality products and services to compete in the global markets. The Government of Myanmar has attached high priority to promote industrial estates and Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to attract investment and promote the production of competitive semi-manufactured and/or manufactured goods. To be successful, industrial estates and SEZs will require policies and programmes to promote and support local SMEs' participation and lead to the creation of both new local enterprises and dynamic business networks and clusters through effective industrial agglomeration.

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