Burma, Myanmar - Economic analysis of government policies, investment climate and political risk.






BURMA (MYANMAR): Economic Policy Analysis

This site presents an analysis of the Burmese government's economic policies compared to a revised list of 34 economic policies as prepared by student Aung P. Phyo with the Mike P. McKeever Institute of Economic Policy Analysis (MIEPA) in May 2015.

To read the MIEPA analysis scroll through this site. To learn more about the background policies, click here  Introduction and Policy Recommendations

To learn more about MIEPA, click here Return to MIEPA's Home Page

Aung P. Phyo, a Burma native who currently [May 2015] lives in San Francisco, has completed a study of his home country government's economic policies as compared to the MIEPA list of policies as shown in the link above. The study on Burma is shown below. The ratings herein are based on the following rating scale:


5.0 Perfect Facilitation of Wealth Creation
4.0 Midway between Perfect and Neutral
3.0 Neutral Effect on Wealth Creation
2.0 Midway between Neutral and Obstructionist
1.0 Perfectly Obstructionist to Wealth Creation
[Rating scale copyright Mike P. McKeever, 2015. Used herein with permission]

To read a disclaimer about the analysis in this file, scroll to the bottom of the file.

Return to MIEPA's Home Page


Comparison of Burma's economic policies to MIEPA criteria as prepared by a native student of Burma studying in the US in May 2015.



        1               1.0           3.0             15.0        20 %

        2               1.0           3.0             15.0        20

        3               1.0           3.0             15.0        20

        4               1.0           3.0             15.0        20

        5               2.0           6.0             15.0        40

        6               3.5          10.5             15.0        70

        7               4.0          12.0             15.0        80

        8               2.0           6.0             15.0        40

        9               2.0           6.0             15.0        40

        10              2.0           6.0             15.0        40

        11              2.5           7.5             15.0        50

        12              4.0           8.0             10.0        80

        13              4.0           8.0             10.0        80

        14              4.0           8.0             10.0        80

        15              2.0           4.0             10.0        40

        16              1.0           2.0             10.0        20

        17              2.0           4.0             10.0        40

        18              2.0           4.0             10.0        40

        19              2.5           5.0             10.0        50

        20              3.5           7.0             10.0        70

        21              2.0           4.0             10.0        40

        22              4.0           8.0             10.0        80

        23              4.0           8.0             10.0        80

        24              1.0           2.0             10.0        20

        25              1.0           2.0             10.0        20        

        26              2.0           4.0             10.0        40

        27              2.0           4.0             10.0        40

        28              2.5           5.0             10.0        50

        29              4.0           4.0              5.0        80 

        30              1.0           1.0              5.0        20

        31              4.0           4.0              5.0        80

        32              4.0           4.0              5.0        80

        33              4.0           4.0              5.0        80

        34              3.0           3.0              5.0        60

   TOTAL               87.5          68.7            365.0        18.8%
                      =====        ======            =====        =====

Return to MIEPA's Home Page


1.Freedom from internal control 1.0

Myanmar’s government has routinely and systematically violated human rights and civil liberties of its citizens. To respective authorities, people have to report where they are going and where they will be staying before travelling and check in when they get to the place where they are travelling to. Moreover, people have to get the permission from government whatever they are doing. Without authorities’ consent, everything is illegal. People who have to live with Foreign Registration Card get only 14 days to travel and have to ask authorities to get extension of the time limit if they want to stay longer at cities where they are travelling to.

Source: 1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma 2) http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2008/01/advancing-freedom- in-burma

2. Freedom of speech 1.0

In Myanmar, citizens have no rights to convey what they think about government. For instance, Myanmar’s National League for Democracy (NLD) leader, Daw Aung San Su Kyi, was placed under house arrest for giving speech about government’s unfairness and corruption.

Source: 1)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_Burma#Freedom_of_speech_and_political_free dom 2) http://southasia.oneworld.net/news/In-Burma-freedom-of-speech-is-still-a dream#.VHSmW4vF_To

3. Effective, fair police force 1.0

Myanmar police force is not a fair system. People are still allowed to do illegal businesses and transactions if they bribe police a lot of money. Moreover, police gives new businesses opportunities to people whom they can get benefits from.

Source: 1) http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703665904575600322561529024

4. Private property 1.0

The main objective of this research is to examine housing, land, and property rights in the context of Burma’s societal transition towards a democratic polity and economy. Much has been written and discussed about property rights in their various manifestations, private, public, collective, and common in terms of “rights”. When property rights are widely and fairly distributed, they are inseparable from the rights of people to a means of living. Yet in the contemporary world, millions of people are denied access to the land, markets, technology, money and jobs essential to creation of livelihoods (Korten, 1998). The most significant worldwide problems of unjust property rights remain those associated with landlessness, rural poverty, and inequality (Hudson-Rodd & Nyunt, 2000).

Source: 1)http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs4/Housing_and_Property_Rights_in_Burma.pdf

5. Commercial banks 2.0

The Myanmar Investment and Commercial Bank provides investment development and commercial banking facilities to local and foreign investors for the purpose of manufacturing, engineering, transport trade marketing. However, a very tiny group of people can borrow money from them because most citizens in Myanmar do not have any bank accounts and use cash for transaction.

Source: 1) http://www.asiatradehub.com/burma/banks2.asp 2) http://www.cbm.gov.mm/content/central-bank-myanmar

6. Communication systems 3.5

In Myanmar, there are less than 10 percent of its population who have access to mobile services. In order to encourage and modernize people, the Union Government of Myanmar signed an agreement with Telenor group for a nationwide telecommunications license. Moreover, other corporations have also building communication infrastructure that consists of a high-speed, high-capacity core optical transmission network capable of transmitting 30GBPs between Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyidaw.

Source: 1) http://www.telenor.com/media/press-releases/2014/telenor-group-signs-license-in- myanmar/ 2) http://www.nec.com/en/press/201305/global_20130521_01.html

7. Transportation 4.0

Myanmar has a surprisingly developed transportation network. It has 66 airports, eight airlines, more than 5500 km of rail and about 150,000 km of roads. The Yangon–Mandalay Expressway is an expressway in Myanmar that connects the country's largest city Yangon,capital Naypyidaw and second largest city Mandalay. The Irrawaddy Flotilla Company (IFC) was a passenger and cargo ferry company, which operated services on the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar.

Source: 1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail_transport_in_Burma 2) http://www.oxfordbusinessgroup.com/myanmar-2014/transport

8. Education 2.0

The education system in Myanmar has long been in decline for critical lacks of resources and skills. The government officials think people with higher education as potential threats so they strictly control over education institutions. Due to the low funds for education, teachers receive a very low salary, which leads to a lack of motivation.

Source: 1) http://factsanddetails.com/southeast-asia/Myanmar/sub5_5f/entry-3117.html

9. Social Mobility 2.0

As stated above under subtitle “Education”, lack of motivation of teachers causes students to not have the professional skills needed for high income. Moreover, in Myanmar, higher positions in businesses are given only to people that are employers’ families or friends because of mistrust in other people.

Source: 1) http://commons.trincoll.edu/edreform/2014/05/the-effects-of-the-colonial-period-on- education-in-burma 2) http://www.icde.org/Distance+Education+in+Myanmar.b7C_wRnG2T.ips

10. Freedom from outside control 2.0

The political situation in Myanmar is volatile and there is always a possibility of civil unrest. Therefore, Myanmar citizens can be arrested and shut their businesses down by government authorities for demonstrating their concern about the unfair law enforcements of Myanmar although they are free from control of other country. Also, except the government of Myanmar, there is no agency that can arrest any citizens.

Source: 1) http://www.bti-project.de/uploads/tx_itao_download/BTI_2014_Myanmar.pdf 2) https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2014/burma#.VHrb-THF-5I

11. Protection of Domestic Enterprises 2.5

In July of 2014, Myanmar recorded a trade deficit of 406.50 USD million. Form 2010 until 2014, Myanmar has -72.71 USD million as an average balance of trade. Balance of Trade in Myanmar is reported by the Central Statistics Organization, Myanmar.

Source: 1) http://www.tradingeconomics.com/myanmar/balance-of-trade 2) http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2006/september/tradoc_113423.pdf

12. Foreign currency transactions 4.0

The informal foreign exchange market and the informal fund transfer system are a legacy of restrictive regulations in the past. After the new government took over the office in 2011, there have been several important policy reforms. The Central Bank has granted foreign exchange dealer licenses to 11 private banks. Since the regulations about trading have been changed, the currency that is used in almost every transaction is Kyat, Myanmar currency.

Source: 1) http://www.ide.go.jp/English/Publish/Download/Brc/pdf/13_06.pdf 2) http://www.cbm.gov.mm/content/central-bank-myanmar

13. Border Control 4.0

Myanmar law enforcement representatives agreed to establish new Border Liaison Offices (BLO) in 2013 in selected hot-spots to counter the smuggling of migrants and some environmental crimes. Lately, authorities from both Myanmar and Thailand made two large drug seizures and arrests along the border last week.

Source: 1) http://www.thaiembdc.org/dcdp/?q=node/351 2)https://www.unodc.org/southeastasiaandpacific/en/myanmar/2013/03/patrol- blo/story.html

14. Currency 4.0

The Burmese Kyat is the currency of Myanmar (Burma). Our currency rankings show that the most popular Myanmar (Burma) Kyat exchange rate is the MMK to USD rate. The current code for Kyats is MMK, and the currency symbol is K. Below, you'll find Burmese Kyat rates and a currency converter. You can also subscribe to our currency newsletters with daily rates and analysis, read the XE Currency Blog, or take MMK rates on the go with our XE Currency Apps and website.

Source: 1) http://www.xe.com/currency/mmk-burmese-kyat

15. Cultural, language homogeneity 2.0

The majority ethnic group, Bamar, makes up about two-thirds of the population and controls the military and the government. The other seven largest minority nationalities in Myanmar are Chin, Kachin, Karenni (sometimes called Kayah), Karen (sometimes called Kayin), Mon, Rakhine, and Shan. Myanmar is divided into seven states, each named after these seven ethnic nationalities, and seven regions (formerly called divisions), which are largely inhabited by Burma.

Source: 1) http://www.oxfordburmaalliance.org/ethnic-groups.html 2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_groups_in_Burma

16. Political effectiveness 1.0

In May 2008, cyclone Nargis caused catastrophic destruction and at least 138,000 fatalities. There have been allegations that government officials stopped updating the death toll after 138,000 to minimize political fallout. Damage was estimated at over K62,988,000,000 (US$10 billion). But despite the enormity of the disaster, shelter was never given the priority it deserved from donors, say aid workers. Moreover, relief efforts were slowed for political reasons as Myanmar's military rulers initially resisted large-scale international aid.

Source: 1) http://www.irinnews.org/report/92616/myanmar-three-years-later-still-no-shelter 2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclone_Nargis

17. Institutional stability 2.0

As the ethnic and political tensions in Myanmar calm down, news media outlets have been decreasing their coverage of the country. The green dot on the chart corresponds to September 24, when a number of positive events concerning Myanmar lined up to reinforce the idea things might get better. The green dot is, in fact, a positive forecast derived from the application of predictive algorithms to past data, using an original methodology developed in the research project Ethnographic Edge.

Source: 1) https://www.recordedfuture.com/myanmar-political-stability/

18. Honest government 2.0

In the past, the Myanmar government was not honest. They arrested people who demonstrated what they want. The best evidence was that Burmese democracy movement leader Aung San Suu Kyi had placed under house arrest for putting pressure on the ruling military regime. There was no independent judiciary in Myanmar and the military government suppressed political activity. However, the system of Myanmar government was recently changed so whether it will be the honest government and reliable has yet to be observed.

Source: 1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Burma 2) Personal

19. Common Laws 2.5

What is the role of the common law in Burma's current and future legal system? It is often assumed that common law concepts are relevant to, and applicable in, Burma's legal system as they are in England and other former English colonies. However, closer analysis shows that such an assumption may be wrong in many respects. Various common law concepts have been negated by statutory laws in Burma's legal history and developments in the country's legal system between the mid 1960's and 1980's. The lack of judicial independence from 1962 onward has also been a serious impediment to the common law's use and operation. However, even if Burma obtained judicial independence to­morrow, this article suggests that earlier developments have negated many common law concepts. It is difficult to see how the common law can provide much to Burma's legal system unless there is specific legislative revival. This article also identifies areas where the common law is inadequate and constitutional or statutory arrangements should be considered for Burma's future legal system.

Source: 1) http://www.thailawforum.com/articles/john-southalan.html

20. Central Bank 3.5

According to the new government that was formed on March, 2011, the Central Bank of Myanmar have to become independently to laid down the policies. Central Bank of Myanmar needs to enact monetary policy independently to control the price stability in domestic market and to preserve the internal and external value of the Myanmar currency the kyat. However, citizens are still trading foreign currency with private companies and outside sources of banking system.

Source: 1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Bank_of_Myanmar 2) http://www.cbm.gov.mm/

21. Domestic Budget Management 2.0

Myanmar recorded a Government Budget deficit equal to 4.90 percent of the country's GDP in 2013. Tax revenues increased from 3.9 percent of GDP in 2011/12 to 6.4 percent in 2012/13 due to exchange rate revaluation following the introduction of a managed float exchange rate system on April 1, 2012. However, the budget on social sectors, education, health care, and defense are also increased and in fact, the expenditures have exceeded the amount of tax collected.

Source: 1) http://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/Worldbank/document/EAP/Myanmar/Myanmar_Economic_Monitor_October_2013.pdf 2) http://www.tradingeconomics.com/myanmar/government-budget

22. Government Debt 4.0

Myanmar recorded a Government Debt to GDP of 42.66 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product in 2013. Government Debt To GDP in Myanmar averaged 77.81 Percent from 1998 until 2013, reaching an all time high of 140.95 Percent in 2001 and a record low of 42.66 Percent in 2013. Government Debt To GDP in Myanmar is reported by the Central Statistics Organization, Myanmar.

Source: 1) http://www.tradingeconomics.com/myanmar/government-debt-to-gdp

23. Economic statistics 4.0

In Myanmar, the GDP growth in FY2013 was 6.467% and the inflation was 5.284%. In FY2014 and FY2015, Myanmar’s economy is on track to grow by 7.8%. The growth is supported by rising investments which are propelled by commodity exports, rising production of natural gas, buoyant tourism, and credit growth. Exports have performed reasonably well so far this year and imports have remained strong.

Source: 1) http://www.adb.org/countries/myanmar/economy 2) http://www.economywatch.com/economic-statistics/country/Myanmar/

24. Protection of Public Health and Safety 1.0

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) states that people can get hepatitis A and typhoid through contaminated food or water in Burma while traveling, regardless of where they are eating or staying. The infant mortality rate in Myanmar is 44.91% when in US is 6.17%. In 2009-2013, the incidence of TB in Myanmar is 377 per 100,000 people while in US is 4 per 100,000 people.

Source: 1) https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2091rank.html

25. High Wage Policies 1.0

The central government of Myanmar has developed the Myawaddy Industrial Area to enhance domestic small and medium-sized enterprises by setting up plants at the border of Thailand, but the present economic conditions in Myanmar make the realization of this plan difficult. In the Mae Sot district of Thailand, there are currently many Burmese migrant workers who could potentially become the workforce for the industrial area, if the central government creates new jobs. Multinational corporations in Thailand plan trans-boundary investments to surrounding countries where workers are paid low wages, after Thailand enacted a nationwide minimum wage policy which regulates at least 300 baht per day per worker as of 2013. The Myawaddy Industrial Area could drive the industrialization of Myanmar, if the government institutes a duty free zone to attract foreign direct investment and develops infrastructure. This paper discusses the effects of the industrial area located at the border of Myanmar in relation to the maquila program in Mexico and the Export Processing Zone in NIEs as previous models.

Source: 1) redfame.com/journal/index.php/ijsss/article/download/542/575

26. Environment Protection 2.0

The poverty of Myanmar due to the global economic sanctions has led to many environmental destructions, such as deforestation, illegal timber harvesting, and illegal trade in wildlife and animal products. Rural residents have few incentives to adopt sustainable management practices since land and natural resources are owned by the state. Enforcement is a big problem due to having few rangers for effective patrolling and management. Climate change only recently became a high priority in Myanmar. Myanmar is already experiencing some effects of climate change: a clear trend in rising temperatures, shorter monsoon duration, and greater frequency of intense rainfall and severe cyclones along Myanmar’s coastline.

Source: 1) http://www.ethicaltraveler.org/2012/09/burmas-new-environmental-challenges-and- opportunities/

27. Strong Army 2.0

In the fiscal year 2014, the allocated defense spending for military is 23.2 percent of the overall expenses. Although it is less than one-third of the domestic budget, it is a lot more when compared to the budget for education, health and other social welfare sectors. It is what makes Myanmar be the least developing and the second poorest country in Asia. Myanmar’s high military budget proportion is due to the ongoing civil war, one of the longest in world history.

Source: 1) http://www.elevenmyanmar.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6066:myanmar-has-highest-defence-spending-in-asean-economist&catid=44:national&Itemid=384

28. Foreign Trade Impact 2.5

The Economy of Burma (Myanmar) is an emerging economy with an estimated nominal GDP of $59.43 billion and a purchasing power adjusted GDP of $111.1 billion.Real growth rate is estimated at 5.5% for the 2011 fiscal year.

Source: 1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Burma

29. Management of foreign currency budget 4.0

Although Myanmar does not have a good relationship in trading with European countries, especially United States of America which imposed sanctions on the country, Myanmar does have a good trade relationship with neighboring countries, such as China, India and Thailand. Exports in Myanmar averaged 819.09 USD Million from 2010 until 2014, reaching an all time high of 1747.30 USD Million in December of 2013 and a record low of 502.60 USD Million in April of 2011. Imports in Myanmar averaged 887.08 USD Million from 2010 until 2014, reaching an all time high of 1824.80 USD Million in October of 2013 and a record low of 334.20 USD Million in October of 2010.

Source: 1) http://www.economywatch.com/world_economy/myanmar/export-import.html

30. Layers of collective action 1.0

Although Burma is improving from every perspective, some of the systems that work in the country still remain the same. Yet, people cannot vote who should be the board members of the school because people need to be appointed by the government to be board members. In fact, 90% of the schools in Burma are public schools that run by the government. So they do not give any emotional stake in the future of the country and encourage people.

Source: 1)http://www.mkeever.com/burma.html

31. Pro-business climate 4.0

October 18, 2014 saw the official unveiling by the government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar of its much-awaited draft national land use policy. Once it is finalized, the new policy will guide the establishment of a new overarching framework for the governance of tenure of land and related natural resources like forests for years to come. As such, it is of vital importance.

Source: 1)http://www.tni.org/briefing/pro-business-or-pro-poor?context=70443

32. Government enterprises 4.0

Before the election took place in Burma, the military which acted as the government controlled most of the companies and provided the lowest wages for the workers. Lately, Burma has even opened up to investment from the foreign countries to improve the country’s economy, which lessens government enterprises and increase social businesses. In fact, the government auctioned its enterprises to private entrepreneurs.

Source: 1) http://www.theguardian.com/social-enterprise-network/2012/aug/02/social- enterprise-east-asia-burma

33. International security agreements 4.0

The United States has placed broad sanctions on Burma because of the military crackdown in 1988 and the military regime's refusal to honour the election results of the 1990 People's Assembly election. Similarly, the European Union has placed embargoes on Burma, including an arms embargo, cessation of trade preferences, and suspension of all aid with the exception of humanitarian aid.

Source: 1)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_relations_of_Burma

34. Protection of domestic enterprises from government mandated costs 3.0

Promising initial steps addressing some of the core structural challenges facing Burma’s economy include: unifying the country’s multiple exchange rates, passing a new foreign investment law, reducing trade restrictions, and reforming tax policy and administration. Consequently, the international business community has renewed its interest in Burma and the unique opportunities the country presents.

Source: 1)http://www.state.gov/e/eb/rls/othr/ics/2014/226926.htm


All the information and conclusions in each country analysis are solely the responsibility of the individual student and have not been verified, corrected, checked for copyright infringement or evaluated in any way by MIEPA or Mike P. McKeever. You are solely responsible for the results of any use you make of the information and conclusions in these studies. Use them at your own risk as interesting supplemental information only instead of seasoned judgements about the policy factors contained herein. Each student has granted permission for his or her work to be displayed here under his or her own name or wishes to remain anonymous and have either created a pen name or used no name at all; if you wish to contact them for any reason, forward your request to MIEPA and the student will be notified of your interest.

To learn more about other countries, click to other files here:

Return to MIEPA's Home Page


Return to MIEPA's Home Page list of country studies

Introduction and Policy Recommendations

Winning Essays: There Are Alternatives Project (TAA)

Essay: Balanced Trade: Toward the Future of Economics

Moral Economics


Web address: http://www.mkeever.com


To contact MIEPA, please send an email to this email address:


Please place the acronym MIEPA in the subject line.