Myanmar’s Arrested Development
Myanmar’s financial reforms and booming real estate have many investors viewing it as a compelling emerging market. One such interested party is Visa Leng, General Manager of General Electric (NYSE: GE) Oil & Gas Asia Pacific:
“Everybody wants to go into Myanmar. We are in the process of assessing this market. And given the resources, the natural gas potential resources, it’s very exciting.”
But now with the recent violent clashes between Buddhists and Muslims, investors are being reminded the country has unsolved problems – ethnic strife being only one of them.
Between political isolation, a militarized society, economic sanctions and governmental mismanagement, Myanmar’s development has been stifled to non-existent for decades.
And what little infrastructure exists, says Hans Vriens of Vriens & Partners, has so far only been meant for a minority of the population:
“There are only 110,000 Internet connections and that’s for a population of 60 million people. The economy wasn’t geared toward serving the people, it was geared toward serving a very small group.”
Until these decades-old problems with banking, human rights, infrastructure, regulation and ethnic strife are solved, investors may look on Myanmar with hope – but only from a distance.