Ma Ma Lwin is a talented Myanmar entrepreneur. With her gentle manners and her ‘light version’ of Myanmar dishes, intercepting the Western tastes of a growing group of expats willing to experience the local food, she has transformed an abandoned rooftop in a Muslim district near downtown Yangon into a successful restaurant. In early 2020, it was time for her to scale up. With the money she had earned, she opened a new restaurant in the heart of the old city, paying advance rent for the whole year. But as Yangon enters its ninth month of lockdown, and expats have left the country en masse, Ma Ma Lwin is now nearly broke.
Agriculture and agribusiness still represent a crucial slice of most ASEAN member countries’ GDP. However, the sector is changing, increasingly leaving behind traditional, labour-intensive production and transformation processes in favour of more advanced and highly technological practices. And it is looking for partners.
A larger population and increased purchasing power have led to substantial growth in global demand for food in recent decades. While the contribution of agriculture to world GDP has, with very few exceptions (i.e., Ethiopia and Argentina), seen a constant decline, agrifood production has increased significantly since the end of World War II, and it is expected to double by 2050.1 More efficient farm structures, technological innovations and better inputs are among the major contributors to this global miracle.
The Southeast Asian digital economy will make more than US$240 billion by 2025, of which only US$102 billion will be from e-commerce. With more than 350 million Internet users, the region is going to be the very epicentre of an economic boom, according to a Google research, becoming the world’s biggest Internet retail market. However, the region varies greatly in terms of Internet usage and quality, and e-commerce penetration and readiness.
While the ‘old’ Europe is recovering from the last financial crisis at a snail’s pace, consumption levels and GDP in the ASEAN zone are soaring. The number of affluent people is also going up, and so is so-called ‘conspicuous consumption’. As a matter of fact, when it comes to high-end and luxury commodities, Italy is one of the leading countries. So how are Italian luxury producers positioned in the race for the conquest of the ASEAN market?