Hyundai Setting Up Shop In Myanmar

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
hyundai setting up shop in myanmar

In just a few short years, Myanmar has gone from Southeast Asia’s pariah state to the new darling of investors looking for the next emerging market.

The free(er) press, burgoening civil society and release of dissidents like Aung San Suu Kyi are rightfully getting all the media attention. But Myanmar’s developing market means that auto sales will inevitably expand, and Hyundai is the latest automaker to set up shop in the country.

So far, only government-approved agencies can import cars, and Hyundai has apparently approached local distributor Diamond Star to help them out, in lieu of establishing a wholly owned subsidiary there. Diamond Star has its hands in a number of ventures, including the distribution of Pepsi products, but not much is known about its auto retail business. According to Just-Auto, Myanmar has the potential to rival Thailand as a major auto market in the region. Hard to imagine that once upon a time, U2 was writing protest songs about the country.

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  • Lolcopterpilot Lolcopterpilot on Sep 04, 2012

    Hopefully good news for Burma, though the article sounds like it's just an importing network to start. Goodness knows there's tremendous pent up demand among the Burmese people for manufactured goods. Also lots of demand for manufacturing jobs. Hint hint. Burma's population of 48 million potential workers and consumers have much to look forward to.

  • Docsoloman Docsoloman on Sep 04, 2012

    TTAC should never use Myanmar again. Military dictators who took over the country and refused to recognize the results of free elections are the one who changed the name to Myanmar. That being said, Hyundai may be playing with fire trying to work with such despots to get their foot in the door to such an attractive market.

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    • Glwillia Glwillia on Sep 05, 2012

      Myanmar is technically more appropriate, seeing as how it refers to the country, whereas Burmese is just one ethnic group in a very multi-ethnic country. Going there next month on holiday, anxious to see what it's like. I predict a lot of old Toyotas.

  • John John on Sep 04, 2012

    Agree with docsoloman. I have a Burmese female cousin in law, about 4'10', probably 90lbs. soaking wet who; with one arm tied behind her back, would beat the pulp out of any man who called her country Myanmar.

  • Signal11 Signal11 on Sep 05, 2012

    I worked in Myanmar for a few months following Cycle Nargis. My visa was in the batch approved in the days after Than Shwe's meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon. While most of my time was spent in the Delta, I bookended my field time with a few weeks in Rangoon. The Koreans have a huge advantage over all of the other major car manufacturing nations. Whether it be the US, the Brits, the EU or the Japanese, the Burmese have a resistance to the historical influence of former colonial powers. Even though in the grand scheme, the ROK is aligned with the US, historically and presently, the Koreans are the most politically neutral of all the major players. I see this played out in my current job where I see a lot of elite strata of Burmese society seeking medical care coming to South Korea for advanced treatments. While I was there, I saw an inordinate amount of prestige vehicles going Korean. Even semi-public bus operators preferred used Hyundai over equivalent (and in my mind superior) used Japanese offerings. One way or another, the next few decades of developing sales in Myanmar/Burma is going to belong to Hyundai.