Following President Thein Sein’s election in 2011 and his subsequent re-engagement with western countries, Myanmar started to emerge from over five decades of stagnation and has the economic foundations for a period of strong growth:

  • Population of 54 million people (26th most populous country in the world).
    • Large workforce with a high literacy rate of 90%.
    • 68% of the population is of working age.
    • 28% of the population is under 24 which will provide strong consumer demand.
  • Significant natural resources: hydrocarbons, fertile land, minerals, precious stones, forests and water.
  • Substantial investment needs to rebuild the country’s infrastructure ranging from electricity generation and distribution, roads, rail, to the education and healthcare systems.
  • Strategically situated in one of the world’s most economically dynamic regions at the intersection of India, China and South East Asia.
  • Critical to China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ strategy providing direct access to the Indian Ocean.
  • Initiated by the President Thein Sein administration, Myanmar had undergone an unprecedented transformational reform process; press freedom and the right to strike were enacted, the Foreign Investment law was revised and a new Companies Act enacted, both of which will assist in foreign investment.
  • Two new mobile telecommunication licenses were awarded to Telenor and Oredoo which led to an explosion of mobile phones and access to Facebook.
  • In the 2015 general election Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party (“NLD”) was elected in a landslide and formed the first democratically elected government in over 50 years.
  • This remarkable change has not been without its difficulties and the situation in Rakhine state, which stems from a complex and historically charged background, remains un-remedied.
  • In the November 2020 general election NLD was re-elected by a slightly larger majority. The results however were disputed by the military which staged a coup d’etat on 1st February 2021 and immediately declared a year-long state of emergency.
  • Immediately after the coup the military formed a State Administrative Council to oversee a government that comprises a number of experienced technocrats. However, at the same time they had continued arresting opponents and demonstrators and suspending the internet at nighttime.
  • There are now widespread demonstrations countrywide daily and a significant increase in violence and fatalities. A Civil Disobedience Movement (“CDM”) has paralyzed the banking system, the ports, industry as well as parts of the civil service.
  • A World Bank forecast issued on 26th March 2021 showed that Myanmar’s economy is expected to contract by 10% this year, a sharp reversal from the previous prediction of 5.9% growth in October 2020.
  • The rapid reversal of the economy over the last 2 months will negatively impact companies.