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Chapter | Construction & Real Estate from The Report: Myanmar 2019

Since the beginning of Myanmar’s economic and political reform in 2011, the construction industry has experienced mixed fortunes. Although the government has recognised the economic multiplier effects of infrastructure development, some large-scale projects have been held up by bureaucracy and investor scepticism. However, recent efforts suggest cause for optimism, including the large-scale urban development projects planned for Yangon and Mandalay, and the government’s assertion of its commitment to infrastructure development and public-private partnerships under the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan 2018-30. Meanwhile, large-scale real estate projects – particularly mixed-use developments – are nearing completion, which should improve investor confidence for current and future projects. Nonetheless, after an initial property boom in the first few years after political and economic reforms began in 2011, Myanmar’s real estate sector has faced some challenges recently. This chapter contains interviews with U Han Zaw, Minister of Construction; and Serge Pun, Chairman, Serge Pun & Associates.

Chapter | Energy from The Report: Myanmar 2019

Home to one of the world’s oldest oil and gas industries, the energy sector has long been a key pillar of Myanmar’s economy. While the sector continues to play an essential role in economic output, its true potential has not yet been realised, partly due to a counterproductive fiscal regime and unfavourable market conditions. Despite a number of setbacks, successive governments have made important steps towards unlocking Myanmar’s energy potential. With natural gas reserves of an estimated 16.6trn standard cu feet and some 139m barrels of crude oil reserves, substantial investments in exploration have led to billions of dollars in annual export revenue. This chapter contains interviews with U Win Khaing, Minister of Electricity and Energy; and Javier Rielo, Vice-president, Total Asia Pacific.

Chapter | ICT from The Report: Myanmar 2019

A new wave of digital innovation is reshaping Myanmar’s economy, as a remodelled national strategy and increased competition enhance the performance of the ICT sector. Prior to the liberalisation of Myanmar’s telecommunications industry, SIM cards and mobile phones were a luxury only the wealthy could afford, but they are now becoming much more widespread, though there is still progress to be made in extending the network rollout. On the back of a string of significant investments and major reforms, mobile network coverage has reached the majority of rural, previously underserved, communities. As a result, Myanmar’s cash-dependent society is being exposed to a wide variety of new e-commerce products and an expanding technology start-up scene. This chapter contains interviews with U Khin Maung Soe, Chairman, MyTel; and U Myo Ohn, CEO, Campana Group.

Chapter | Financial Services from The Report: Myanmar 2019

After several years of rapid expansion and double-digit credit growth, Myanmar’s banking sector underwent several necessary reforms in 2017 and 2018, as the Central Bank of Myanmar moved to introduce new prudential regulations and reduce overdraft lending. Although foreign banks remain prohibited from participating in retail activities, a spate of recent directives have made promising strides towards liberalisation, with foreign entities now permitted to provide import and export financing, as well as lend to local businesses – a major step forward for the development of the sector. Financial inclusion has benefitted from rapid mobile adoption and supportive policy-making. This chapter contains interviews with U Kyaw Kyaw Maung, Governor, Central Bank of Myanmar; U Thein Zaw Tun, Managing Director, CB Bank; He Bi Qing, CEO, ICBC Yangon; and U Nyo Myint, Vice-Chairman, Myanmar Insurance Association.

Chapter | Trade & Investment from The Report: Myanmar 2019

Benefitting from a large population, an ideal geographic position and abundant natural resources, Myanmar’s trade and investment volumes hold enormous potential for future expansion, although the country is facing both domestic and external challenges. Foreign direct investment inflows soared from 2011, upon the country’s economic liberalisation and democratic transition, although they have slumped recently in the wake of ongoing restrictions on foreign business activities, delayed legal reforms and rising international scrutiny of domestic conflicts. Trade volumes have expanded considerably since 2011, supported by strong agricultural output, energy exports and expansion of the labour-intensive garment. However, imports continue to outpace exports and the potential withdrawal of EU trade privileges has darkened the near-term outlook. This chapter contains interviews with U Than Myint, Minister of Commerce; U Zaw Myint Maung, Chief Minister, Regional Government of Mandalay; Patrick Ip, Managing Director, China-ASEAN Investment Cooperation Fund; and Hiroyuki Ishige, Chairman, Japan External Trade Organisation.

Chapter | Economy from The Report: Myanmar 2019

Myanmar’s macroeconomic performance improved in 2018 as recovery in the agriculture sector, rising oil and gas prices, and substantial growth in several manufacturing segments helped the country regain positive momentum. Efforts to encourage private sector activity and liberalise the economy have been extensively detailed in a new long-term economic development agenda, and recent legislative reforms should further bolster business engagement. At the same time, the country is facing several notable challenges. The liberalisation of financial services has been slower than anticipated: deficits in the fiscal budget and the external balance of trade remain large and continue to grow, and currency depreciation hampered growth and spurred inflation in 2018. This chapter contains interviews with U Soe Win, Minister of Planning and Finance; U Zaw Min Win, President, Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry; and Parag Khanna, Founder and Managing Partner, FutureMap.