E-Commerce Businesses in Myanmar – An Overview
There are thousands of purely e-commerce businesses online in Myanmar that operate through various marketplace platforms and social media sites such as Facebook. It is believed that the numbers grow by the day and though the government is supportive of such ventures and understands its importance in the livelihood of many, it is also intent on ensuring these operate legitimately under the auspices of Myanmar company law and that consumer interests are protected.
There is a growing concern about the rise in counterfeit and defective products. There are also difficulties in the traceability of the sellers and at times, it is unclear if profits and incomes of these businesses are properly declared for taxation purposes.
The Ministry of Commerce operates the Voluntary E-Commerce (OnlineShop) platform. This supports the development of e-commerce operations in Myanmar, promotes the trust between online traders and consumers, and enacts the necessary legal framework for the e-commerce framework. Under Goal No.5, “Promoting innovative products and platforms of COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan”, the Under goal 5, the Myanmar Government proposes to:
- Promote the use of mobile payment services, bank transfers, or card payments for e-commerce sales.
- Encourage retail businesses to use e-commerce and social commerce systems.
By registering with the Ministry of Commerce, such entities will be formally endorsed.
Requirements for Registration
To register as an e-commerce entity with the Ministry of Commerce, companies must:
- Be a registered company for conducting business under Myanmar company law.
- Be an online shop business and be registered as a “.com” or “.com.mm” under the legal Domain Name/Sub Domain Name.
- Be trading in local goods and/or services online.
- Be already approved form the relevant departments for trading the commodities and services.
- Be where the business owner/s obeys the rules and procedures under the consumer protection laws of the country and if any breaches affect the consumer, the business owner/s agree to settle in collaboration with the relevant organizations.
Facts and Conditions for Registered Companies
Companies registered with the Ministry of Commerce for operating an e-commerce business and owners of marketplace platforms shall abide by the following conditions:
- The term of registration is 5 years and may be renewed before 3 months of expiration.
- That it shall operate the business following the existing laws, procedures, and directives.
- That it shall cooperate technically to describe its certified business license logo on the relevant website/platform.
- Private marketplace platform owners shall also require all sellers who operate on their platforms to display or mention all the necessary certifications or requirements as stipulated by company law and by the Ministry.
- That it shall have accountability and settle any disputes between it and its customers.
- That online games, gambling affairs, trade using Bitcoin, Digital Money, selling illegal shares and selling commodities that are restricted to be sold and imported under relevant laws will strictly not be allowed to operate.
- That private marketplace platform owners will undertake to update lists of online sellers which shall be sent to the Ministry once every 6 months.
- That the private and confidential information of its customers shall be protected for data privacy and will not be used for any other purposes than for the e-commerce transaction.
- That rules including e-Commerce Guidelines (2020) issued by the Ministry of Commerce shall be fully complied with.
The Ministry of Commerce, Department of Trade will take full responsibility for the registration of e-Commerce/Online Shop. It will examine the facts which the business owner declared during the application process and then examine whether the business is performing at the submitted Website URL.
It will examine whether the company registration and export/import registrations are satisfied within the necessary systems and check to see whether the e-commerce entity has abided by any administrative guidelines specified by any other relevant Departments.
The registration process will be simplified and will be easily done via an online application method. The government intends to add a module on the existing Myanmar Tradenet Website and registration can be done without membership of Tradenet.
To encourage the registration of e-commerce businesses, it has been determined that the registration process will be completely free for the business owner. The business owner will simply need to fill facts in the application form when registering using a specific Application Form. Once the application details are verified and complete, the relevant Certificate will be issued.
Business owners will then be able to link their certificates using a script file that can be used to display on their websites or social media sites. The whole objective of this exercise will be to increase transparency and importantly to promote the trust of consumers. Separately, a form of Directory of all registered e-commerce businesses will also be officially available on either the www.commerce.gov.com website or on the Myanmar Tradenet Website, or even on both.
E-commerce business owners who register judiciously under the new framework will benefit in many ways once the law is finalised. Not only will they gain the trust with their potential customers, should there be any misunderstanding or disputes, this can be fairly settled under the law. There will also be a potential to expand the reach of consumers overseas and transactions can be safely and legally conducted and traded.
Myanmar is intent on growing its reputation as a progressive digital economy. If you are considering setting up as an e-Commerce entity or are already operating as one, do reach out to our legal team by emailing your inquiry to email@example.com to see if we can help.
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