IMF report notes Myanmar's potential

Jan. 26, 2012 at 12:27 AM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Myanmar's government has the opportunity to make the country "the next economic frontier in Asia," an International Monetary Fund report concluded.

The assessment was made by Meral Karasulu, the fund's deputy division chief for Asia and the Pacific, after a visit to the Southeast Asian nation as head of an agency mission that met with officials in Myanmar's new military-backed civilian government.

"The new government is facing a historic opportunity to jump-start the development process and lift living standards," Karasulu's statement said. "Myanmar has a high growth potential and could become the next economic frontier in Asia, if it can turn its rich natural resources, young labor force, and proximity to some of the most dynamic economies in the world, into its advantage."

The government needs to establish macroeconomic stability, with inclusive and sustainable growth, to deliver on these expectations Karasalu said.

"Modernizing Myanmar's economy will be a process of removing impediments to growth by enhancing business and investment climate, modernizing the financial sector, and further liberalizing trade and foreign direct investment," the statement said.

It said the government's recent efforts are going in the right direction.

Western nations have praised the new government -- which came to power after elections in November 2010 -- for its reforms, while stressing the need for more.

Karasulu said Myanmar's real GDP growth is expected to increase to 5.5 percent this fiscal year and 6 percent next year, driven by commodity exports and higher investment. Inflation is projected at 4.2 percent this year.

The statement said reforming the complex exchange rate system is a priority to eliminate constraints on economic growth in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

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