Myanmar: What is happening?

In this post, I would like to share a few things about current situation in Myanmar. This might not be directly related to Technopreneurship but hopefully it might serve as a variety of reading for the class and  it might be of some interest to those who might want to invest in Myanmar in the future.

Firstly, a few facts about Myanmar (2010)

  • Population: 60millions
  • Area: 676578 km2
  • nominal GDP: $42.953 billion
  • Per capita (nominal): $702
  • GDP real growth rate: 5.3%
  • GDP composition by sector – 43.1% agriculture, 20%industry, 36.9% services
  • Population below poverty line – 32.7%
  • Labor force – 31.68 millions
  • Labor force by occupation – 70% agriculture, 7% industry, 23% services
  • Unemployment rate – 5.7%

Currently, Myanmar’s economy depends highly on export of agricultural and natural resources. Rice is the major agricultural product and rice fields cover about 60% of the total cultivated land area. Natural resources include precious stones such as sapphires, pearls, jade and rubies. Nearly 7 million barrels of crude oils and over 400 billion cubic-feet of gas were exported in 2009-2010.

Until one year ago, Myanmar was under Military Regime and Myanmar economy has been isolated for past few decades due to economic sanctions.

Since one year ago, Myanmar has civilian government and recently Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, the most prominent Myanmar pro democracy opposition leader, has been voted into parliament. US has promised to re-establish diplomatic ties with Myanmar and send an Ambassador to Myanmar. Hillary Clinton has promised that US will ease economic sanctions. Myanmar government has also laid out some laws to invite foreign investment. It has also floated Myanmar currency, Kyat, which has long been pegged “artificially” at 6.4 Kyat per dollar, a rate only available to state-owned companies and about 125 times stronger than the black-market rate. With all these changes and more to come in the near future, Myanmar finally seems to open up for foreign investment and economic growth. Nevertheless, there are still a long road ahead.

There are a few industries in Myanmar that are likely to see big growth in the near future.

  1. Construction – Demand for construction is set to rise as Myanmar builds necessary physical infrastructure for economic growth and foreign investment
  2. Telecommunication – Mobile phone usage has recently surged but there is still a big space to grow. Also, internet infrastructure are not there. In 2010,  internet penetration rate was only around 0.2%. This is one industry which is set to face rapid and huge growth sooner or later
  3. Education – Myanmar’s current education systems is dysfunctional. Students are hardworking but the system does not allow them to reach their potential. Myanmar needs to correct this and develop Human resources fast if it aims to achieve economic growth and compete internationally.
  4. Tourism – with reduced sanctions and increased stability in the country, tourism is bound to increase as Myanmar has been “out of bound” for a long time for foreign travelers
  5. Banking – Myanmar needs to develop proper banking system if it hopes to attract foreign investment. According to some reports, the government will allow joint ventures between local banks and foreign banks in two or three year first and then foreign banks will be allowed to operate on their own.
  6. Oil and Gas – Myanmar has a sizable reserve of oil and gas. With economic sanctions lifted, the export of these resources will increase.

Important Note: I might miss out some big industries 😛

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