Myanmar invests in a new future

OECD Observer

After decades of economic isolation, Myanmar has boldly re-entered the global market with a wide range of policy reforms intended to court foreign trade and investment. Reforms range from improvements in infrastructure, to food security and agricultural growth, to monetary and financial sector transformations. Rich in natural resources and a young labour force, the country of over 60 million people once called the “rice bowl’’ of Asia stands to gain much from opening its economy to the world.

The OECD Investment Policy Review of Myanmar is a timely guide for policymakers and investors hoping to help pave the way forward. By reviewing effective policy actions, and providing suggestions for the future, the text outlines opportunities and challenges ahead. The Foreign Investment Law of 2012, for example, is praised for extending legal protections to foreign investors. In the future, however, new frameworks must also incorporate the principle of non-discrimination, easing sector and product-based restrictions on foreign investors while measuring the effectiveness of existing joint-venture requirements.

Attracting lasting investment in agriculture is another priority of the Myanmar government. New land registration laws as well as generous tax incentives are set to draw in businesses, though the OECD recommends greater harmonisation of legislation and the development of rural infrastructure as more sustainable solutions.

Great progress has also been made through policies to encourage responsible business conduct. Myanmar re-entered the International Labour Organization in 2012, following new legislation that criminalised the exaction of forced labour, and permitted the organisation of labour unions. The new Labour Dispute Settlement Law further establishes workers’ rights protections, while a minimum wage stands recognised after 2013. Social impact and environmental assessments are similarly required of all businesses thanks to the Environmental Conservation Law of 2012. A strong precedent has now been set for the gradual introduction and recognition of international standards of labour rights, environmental protection and responsible business conduct.

OECD (2014), OECD Investment Policy Reviews: Myanmar 2014, OECD Publishing.

©OECD Observer No 299, Q2 2014




Economic data

GDP growth: +0.5% Q2 2019 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 1.9% August 2019 annual
Trade: +0.4% exp, -1.2% imp, Q1 2019
Unemployment: 5.1% August 2019
Last update: 9 September 2019

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