MARKET IN FOCUS
International investors moving quickly to take advantage of economic opportunities in Myanmar amid major reforms in the Southeast Asian nation
In November 2010, peaceful but restrictive general elections were held, ultimately leading to now-president U Thein Sein assuming office in March, 2011 and the commencement of democratization of the country.
The government then embarked on a series of political and economic reforms, among them lifting the house arrest of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, releasing political prisoners, instituting new labour laws that permitted unions, easing censorship, relaxing currency regulations, and allowing Suu Kyi’s party, the, National League for Democracy, to participate in the by-elections to fill vacant parliamentary seats. It won 43 of the 45 available seats.
The rapid pace of political change in the past year — capped by the recent election to parliament of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi — has many tourists and foreign investors rushing to Myanmar, also known as Burma. And it's starting to get a little crowded.
The most promising investment opportunities in Myanmar include agriculture, natural resources, tourism, manufacturing, and importing products to the 55 million potential consumers who until now have been isolated from the outside world.
The country produces 90% of the world’s rubies and is a large producer of other gems such as sapphires, pearls, and jade.
Myanmar’s recoverable crude oil reserves are estimated at 3.2 billion barrels. It has abundant natural-gas resources with proven recoverable reserves of 18.012 trillion cubic feet (TCF) out of 89.722 TCF’s estimated reserve of offshore and onshore gas.
Foreign investment comes primarily from China, Singapore, South Korea, India and Thailand, but that is set to change dramatically with the recent lifting of sanctions in the US and Europe.