Investment opportunities in Myanmar are rapidly becoming more prevalent, encouraging many foreign investors to flock to the country. However as these prospects increase, the potential for the problems that come hand in hand with foreign investment are also naturally developing. Having spent nearly half the past century under an intensely restrictive military regime, Myanmar is now experiencing new freedoms which are evidently enticing opportunistic business minds to the region.
Interest from the west has been plentiful, however business people of the Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Korean persuasion out-number them easily. It is notably the untapped reserves of oil and gas as well as an abundance of timber and gems that is attracting these people to Myanmar, aided by a new foreign investment law which makes such business easier.
Although the laws have been relaxed, it seems there is still the issue of trust to overcome as the government of Myanmar attempts to decide where its alliances truly lie. It has not gone unmentioned that there are many other countries that offer similarly rich investment opportunities that aren’t as difficult to negotiate as Myanmar, however for those who are entering the country with business intentions, it seems that they believe the high risk will be rewarded with high returns.
The social impact of foreign interest in the country has been considered and discussed in great depth by the government as well as the opposition party. The mutual conclusion of these discussions has been varied, however it is agreed upon that all investors will have to create business opportunities that are sustainable both socially and environmentally. As well as being sustainable, these opportunities must also be controlled if Myanmar isn’t to lose sight if it’s proud culture and heritage. If responsible development isn’t exercised then the people who have long inhabited this country, and made a modest living from the resources of the land, could easily be overlooked as more profitable ventures are established. This has been seen in countless countries around the world where the underdog is pushed aside in favour of rich investors who promise to bring wealth to a region. To allow such irresponsible growth is a crime against the very society that is supposedly supporting the alleged progression and expansion, leading to possible displacement for those locals who may then struggle to continue with their livelihoods.
This is an exciting time for both Myanmar and for those who wish to expand their business reach into the region, yet it remains to be seen how the country will cope with such expansion.
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