New laws, old problems: Myanmar’s economy

New laws, old problems: Myanmar’s economy

New competition regulations come into force in Myanmar on Friday. The new rules, which aim to curb anti-competitive practices, are

Photo: Myanmar Business Today

Photo: Myanmar Business Today

New competition regulations come into force in Myanmar on Friday. The new rules, which aim to curb anti-competitive practices, are part of a broader trend of economic liberalisation seeking to undo decades of central planning, which stifled growth and plunged the Southeast Asian nation into poverty.

Myanmar has come a long way since it began to open up its economy in 2011. Every year since then has seen a heady annual growth rate of at least 8%, making the country one of the top performers in Asia.

The nearly untapped market has also brought a flood of foreign investment. When economic restrictions were first relaxed, FDI grew by a staggering 6,500% as foreign companies rushed to gain a foothold in the country of 55 million.

Still, Myanmar faces significant challenges. Estimates indicate that almost a quarter of the country’s population is unemployed, and many who do have jobs work on basic farms. As a result, Myanmar has one of the lowest per capita incomes in Asia at roughly $6,000.

While the introduction of new corporate regulations will encourage businesses – both local and foreign – to invest in Myanmar, the country faces a future of tough decisions and painful reforms.

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