Myanmar Government Blocks Project near Sacred Pagoda

Myanmar Government Blocks Project near Sacred PagodaIn a sharp turnaround, the Myanmar government has blocked a plan already underway by international developers to redevelop 22 acres of former military land near Yangon’s spectacular Shwedagon Pagoda, one of Buddhism’s most sacred structures and Myanmar’s most revered temple, into a mixed-use residential-shopping complex. Although Yangon has a relatively strong preservation movement, concerns have…

Myanmar Economic Outlook: Mixed

Myanmar Economic Outlook: MixedMyanmar’s business development prospects in 2015 are forecast to be mixed as the country grapples with a variety of problems ranging from domestic political uncertainty to outside economic influences beyond its control. National elections this year will make some foreign investors hesitant to enter until a clear outcome emerges, say analysts, and the unexpected collapse…

Burma to Begin Rice Exports to NE India

Burma to Begin Rice Exports to NE IndiaBurma, whose rice-growing regions were devastated by Typhoon Nargis in 2008, which killed at least 138,000 people, is putting the final touches on a major export deal with India, set to begin this month. The deal will see sales of about 20,000 metric tons of Burmese rice to Northeast India every month for the coming…

Myanmar and the Stone of Heaven

Myanmar and the Stone of HeavenHpakant, a township in Kachin State, in northeastern Myanmar, is a living tapestry of Hieronymous Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights – a hell on earth of unbridled heroin addiction, violence and rampant HIV. But what this hell holds is, for the Chinese, the most precious and sought raw-earth mineral of them all – the Stone…

Yangon Lights Up

Yangon Lights UpOn the industrial outskirts of Yangon, a rusted chimney exhales wisps of white smoke as a three-decade-old gas-fired power station chunters on. Just meters away on the same compound in Thaketa Township, a low mumble, but nothing in the way of visible emissions, is coming from a row of 16 boxed-up gas-fueled engines—Austrian-produced Jenbacher machines…

Foreign Investors Face Myanmar Gamble

Foreign Investors Face Myanmar GambleOver the past 12 months Myanmar has received over US$3.6 billion of foreign direct investment, an increase of nearly 300 percent, according to government figures released in February. Despite this encouraging news, enormous barriers to future investment remain, and if reforms are not quickly enacted, foreign capital may take flight as quickly as it has…

Businessmen Flock to Myanmar

Businessmen Flock to MyanmarMyanmar’s potential as the new frontier is wooing hundreds of businessmen piling into the country despite formidable challenges. More than 300 of them from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam earlier this week attended a forum for regional investors sponsored by the Singapore-based United Overseas Bank. According to a presentation by the bank, half of…

Myanmar’s Anti-Money Laundering Drive

Myanmar’s  Anti-Money Laundering DriveMyanmar looks set to get a new law to counter money laundering soon, but the country still faces numerous challenges in curbing financial crimes. Last Thursday the Upper House passed an Anti-Money Laundering Bill, which will next go to the Union Parliament, where Myanmar’s Lower House and Upper House sit in joint session. Once the…

Burma Development at Risk From Thai Crisis

Burma Development at Risk From Thai CrisisThe political crisis gripping Thailand is jeopardizing key economic infrastructure developments and other potential investment in Burma, reports warn. The crisis has all but paralyzed Bangkok government and civil service activity, freezing planned major investments in international railway and road links and petrochemical projects, industry analysts said. It has also effectively put on hold plans…

Capitalism Ominously Comes to Myanmar’s Forests

Capitalism Ominously Comes to Myanmar’s ForestsPlantation farming is expanding rapidly in Burma and is emerging as the main driver of deforestation, according to a new report released earlier this week saying politically connected businessmen are receiving government licenses to log swathes of natural forest in ethnic minority regions, ostensibly to plant rubber and oil palm. The report by US-based research…
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