Full Steam Ahead: The Burma Boom
Image Credit: Flickr (E Guide Travel)

Full Steam Ahead: The Burma Boom


RANGOON – Khin Yu Waddy Myint is manager at Pyrex Trading and Distribution, a Burmese pharmaceutical company that employs 250 people across the country. Part of her job is to source and import medicines from India and Australia, a task she concedes she doesn’t know enough about.

“It is the first time for me to learn many of these things about how to tender,” she says, taking a break from some business training at the SME Center inside a Ministry of Commerce building in Rangoon, a short walk from where opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest during Burma’s military government.

Now that military rule is a thing of the past, formally at least, and more donor-funded NGO work is being done in a country where Western aid was, until very recently, on ice for the most part as a part of sanctions imposed on the military junta.

And while eyes might roll at the notion of another NGO doing yet more training in a poor country, the group behind the course says that its work is all about boosting local business and creating jobs.

Yuki Kuronuma is Business Development Manager at Building Markets, an NGO that aims to bridge the business-aid divide. She says that “part of what we try to do is link local business and entrepreneurs with international suppliers and business opportunities. In Myanmar  the need for this is quite clear, given that the country has been closed to the much of the outside world for so long.”

Burma’s economic prospects are on the rise, now, with the World Bank saying on December 19 that “the Myanmar economy continued to accelerate in fiscal year 2011-12, with GDP growth at 5.5 percent, and expected to reach 6.3 percent in fiscal year 2012-13.”

March 28, 2013 at 16:48

This piece doesnt say much about any 'boom'. If anything it sketches caution

Tony Nigel
January 13, 2013 at 13:14

wow what an original article, I have only been seeing this narrative for the last 2 years…zzzzz

December 29, 2012 at 07:03

from a sinocentric point of view

December 29, 2012 at 04:35

Well said.

Shady Sands
December 27, 2012 at 04:18

Of course not.  Burma is becoming another brick in the wall to plug up the Chinese dragon.  So long as Burma accepts its new leash, its master will continue feeding it and letting it bite whoever the hell it pleases.

December 26, 2012 at 04:34

Wow. How can such a comprehinsive article about Burma not mention the atrocities and mass murders of Rohongya people. I wonder if its intentional !

John Chan
December 26, 2012 at 02:09

1. China model is the only route to achieve a “viable economic development for the really poor rural farmers.” The so called western democracy model will just bring chaos instead of improving living standard, because it puts the cart in front of the horse; democracy cannot survive on empty stomach. Before people is properly educated and fed, democracy is only the tool for the unscrupulous people to fulfil their personal gain; HK is a typical example, even though people in HJK are properly fed, but they are still colonially educated; those democrats in HK are unscrupulous people, they make democracy a mockery.
2. the French revolution did not change anything socially; the revolution only chopped off the existing feudal oligarchy and replaced it with a new batch of feudal oligarchy.
3. Earth’s fortune depends on the Sun; the relation between Burma and all other SE Asian nations with China is just as nature as Earth and Sun. The West is like comets to the solar system, they only bring destruction to the members surrounding China.
4. A positive mentality to view the relationship with China is more constructive for nation building, for example without Chinese demand on copper and jade, Burma’s copper and jades will just be rocks in the mountains worth nothing; the West does not want jade, and they have never took the risk to invest in those copper mines in all those years they occupied Burma.

December 23, 2012 at 02:23

Burma is still a feudal oligarchy (remember Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of the founder of the modern Burmese army!), stuck in the "dark" middle ages. Like a lot of Asian countries, Burmese society has a strong sense of hierarchy (suck up to the people above you and bully the people beneath you!) and is based on medieval notions of nepotism, patronage and appanage (guanxi, if you like Chinese!) It would be very difficult for true democracy and the "rule of law" (Suu Kyi's favourite phrase!) to take root in Burma, unless there is a “French Revolution” of sorts., you know the kind that says: Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité. For the past 50 years or so, the military has been the way to power and wealth in Burma. Intellectuals have little chance to succeed in Burma and so many of them have left the country. The Chinese know that and that's why they supported and bribed Than Shwe and his cronies (helped indirectly by Suu Kyi's stubborn insistence on Western sanctions). The Chinese also know how to divide and conquer the different ethnic groups (officially 135 of them in Burma, what a tribal society!) by following Sun Tzu's advice in "The Art of War": Let the barbarians fight each other!
I would love to see a viable economic development for the really poor rural farmers, who from the majority and the backbone of the country (through micro-loans for example) and a sustainable use of the natural resources instead of indiscriminate logging, damming and mining (copper and jade for China!) for the benefit of the few corrupt "upper-clas" but basically to serve the "Great Chinese Economic Leap Forward". Burma is rapidly losing it's natural landscape and it's traditional social fabric  (I was born in Burma)

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