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Myanmar can become middle-income country by 2030: Prabir De


Prospects look good for Myanmar - People crossing a busy road in downtown Yangon. Photo: Nyein Chan Naing/EPA

Prospects look good for Myanmar - People crossing a busy road in downtown Yangon. Photo: Nyein Chan Naing/EPA

Myanmar can become a middle-income country by 2030 and triple its per capita income, says Indian economist Prabir De.

In a book "Myanmar's Integration with the World” co-authored with Ajitava Raychaudhuri, that was released during the first India-Myanmar dialogue, De says Myanmar can become one of the fastest growing economies and grow at 7-8 percent per annum.

"With Myanmar enjoying preferential quotas due to its Least Developed Country status and with the sanctions gone, the country has the chance to attract a booming foreign direct investment," De said in his chapter in the book.  The book was launched by Indian Ambassdor Vikram Misri and Parami Energy CEO Ken Tun.

De listed the disadvantages faced by Myanmar as it seeks foreign direct investments - small population size, missing institutions, narrow trade basket, inadequate trade capacity, lack of skilled human resources and insufficient infrastructure.

"But Myanmar's biggest plus is its strategic location - between China, India and ASEAN, three top markets where Myanmar's exports could go up substantially. With labour costs still low and these vast markets available, foreign investors have good reasons to move into Myanmar to set up manufacturing units or service facilities," De said.

De said that the processes of global integration represent both challenges and opportunities for Myanmar, insofar as its growth depends on external economic environment.

"The policies of multilateral institutions and regional groupings will have a huge bearing on Myanmar,” he said.

De stressed on several phases of reforms for Myanmar to take advantage of its locational advantages and its LDC status that guarantees its products preferential access to several top markets like the US and European Union. 

"Myanmar will also grow faster if it puts in place the right kind of laws to take maximum advantage of regional cooperation," De said.

He said the new FDI policy in 2010 attracted a huge inflow of overseas capital, with FDI going up from $1 billion in 2010 to $4 billion in 2015.

"Sharp rise in FDI is an important development in Myanmar's economy," said De, adding "Today FDI inflows make up for 6.5% of the GDP, that was less than 2 percent of the GDP five years ago." 

De said if more FDI went into infrastructure, it would boost Myanmar's economy faster than many would now anticipate. 

"So far most of the FDI went into export-seeking sectors and that is expected because investors from abroad look to quick returns. But more FDI in infrastructure is what Myanmar now needs," he said.

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