Foreign Investors In Myanmar Can Help Lift The Nation Out Of Its Economic and Political Strife

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Myanmar is a strange, two-sided coin. On the one hand, the country’s recent inflow of foreign investment and the government’s economic reforms seem to promise great growth for the impoverished Southeast Asian nation; on the other hand, genocides, protests, religious clashes and sectarian violence continue to afflict the country. While it will without a doubt be challenging to invest in Myanmar, responsible foreign investment has the potential to alleviate some of the non-economic troubles the country faces, and hasten its political and economic development.

Make no mistake, Myanmar has made great strides in the past two years, since the reform government took over in 2011, so much so that the U.S. and the EU have seen fit to lift their trade sanctions originally put in place due to Myanmar’s human rights violations. Foreign firms like Unilever PLC (LON:ULVR), The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) and Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F), have moved to establish a presence in one of the last economic frontiers of the world. Investments by such companies led the McKinsey Global Institute to estimate that Myanmar could get about $100 billion of foreign investment by 2030, more than double the $42 billion it has received so far.

At the same time, anti-Muslim violence has left more than 240 people dead and a quarter of a million people homeless. The government has failed to act appropriately and to protect the Muslim minority, according to a report from the New York-based Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).

“The Burmese government has not only failed to protect vulnerable groups, but has created a dangerous culture of impunity that fuels human rights violations,” said Holly Atkinson, an author of the PHR report.


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