New moves in Myanmar

Myanmar is ranked 176th out of 180 for corruption, the infrastructure is in complete disrepair, and the country is the second largest grower of opium in the region. Yet investors are quietly shuffling in, attracted by the untapped potential of its natural resources and its strategic location in Southeast Asia, bordered by India, Bangladesh, China, Laos, and Thailand. The government, keen to open up to foreign investment capital, has ushered in a sort of burmese “glasnost,” releasing many political prisoners and allowing political parties to form and take part in elections which finally led Aung San Suu Kyi to power. The changes have been so fast that many doubt the underlying intent that is driving these reforms, but Suu Kyi’s position as opposition leader promises to give democracy an irreversible momentum. The US resumed diplomatic relations with Myanmar on January 13, 2012 and in April the EU lifted sanctions for one year as a show of goodwill. If the Economist Intelligence Unit’s prediction comes true, the end of  Western sanctions will see Myanmar’s trade links expand beyond Asia, leading to export revenue increases of around 12% in 2014-16, and a way out of poverty.