India’s “Act East” policy represents its efforts to cultivate economic and strategic relationships with Southeast Asian nations, of which Myanmar is the only country it shares a border. Also of interest to India is connecting Northeast India to the rest of the country as it is isolated by the Siliguri Corridor, also known as the “Chicken’s Neck”. To accomplish this, India is working with Myanmar to bypass Bangladesh and improve the infrastructure between the port in Sittwe, the Northeast Indian states and the highways leading to Thailand. It is supporting the construction of the Mekong-India Economic Corridor to connect Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam and, at the same time, projecting its influence to areas surrounding the South China Sea to expand its strategic space from the Indian Ocean to the West Pacific.
In 2012, the United States relaxed economic sanctions against Myanmar by easing the ban on the export of financial services to the country and authorising the importation of goods from Myanmar to the United States. In 2016, as one of his last acts in office, President Obama issued an executive order lifting all remaining trade sanctions against Myanmar. President Obama has visited Myanmar twice, marking the first trip to the country by a sitting U.S. President. The trips also demonstrated the significance the United States places on improving relations with Myanmar, as it is one of only a few countries to be visited multiple times by President Obama during his presidency.
In 1997, Myanmar joined the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). This group of ten nations is estimated to have a population of 620 million people and nominal GDP of US$2.4 trillion. The Human Development Index ranked Myanmar the lowest amongst ASEAN countries providing it with the largest opportunity to improve living standards. “ASEAN Integration 2015” removed additional trade barriers and further integrated the association.
- Gas: Proven reserves of 10.0 trillion cubic feet and one of Southeast Asia’s five major exporters
- Oil: Proven reserves of 2.1 billion barrels and one of the largest reserves in Southeast Asia
- Water: Substantial renewable resources. Hydropower accounts for 75% of the total installed capacity for electricity
- Fisheries: Over 3,000 kilometers of coastline with substantial mangrove areas. Already a major exporter of fish and shrimp
- Rice: Previously the top exporter of rice in the world, but today its market share is negligible
With the recent decisions to open the financial sector to greater foreign competition, ease trade restrictions and begin mega infrastructure projects note a decisive and anticipated uptick in reform momentum, according to Myanmar Economic Monitor report by the World Bank Group. External factors that drive the downside risks to the economic outlook include possible revocation of preferential trade access under the European Union Generalized System of Preferences. Furthermore , the flow of inbound foreign investments and exports could decelerate due to slow down in the global and regional growth, especially in China, along with renewed escalation of global trade tensions.
Despite the low wage costs, manufacturing output remains low at 57% and 47% compared to Bangladesh and Vietnam’s respective outputs.
- Efforts to modernise the legal and regulatory framework
- New Myanmar Companies Law
- New online registry; Myanmar Companies Online (MyCO)
- Tax administration law
- Trademark law
- Industrial Design law