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First oECD Investment Policy Review of Myanmar 2014

The first OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Investment Policy Review for Myanmar was launched in Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon in early March and was met with an enthusiastic response from Myanmar government officials, members of parliament, 24 ministries and agencies, Ambassadors of ASEAN Member States and representatives from OECD Embassies.

Myanmar government officials voiced support for international efforts to promote responsible investment in Myanmar. The Review is the first international project on investment policy undertaken by the new government.

Speaking at last month’s launch in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar’s Union Minister of National Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Kan Zaw, praised the comprehensive nature of the report and said that it would help guide the government in solidifying investment climate reforms and in promoting more and better investment. The Review takes a comprehensive look at affecting issues: from the historical context, the reform process alongside current legislative reform and the investment climate pointing to key actionable recommendations. These range from more immediate solutions to more fundamental and long-term measures.

This analysis it is hoped will ensure that Myanmar takes advantage of the current reform momentum and attracts and sustains the type of investment it wants alongside a desired developmental impact. Of the many policy areas considered are budgetary and tax reforms; monetary and financial sector reforms; liberalisation of trade and investment; food security; agricultural growth; land issues and improvements in infrastructure. There is a strong belief that the country stands to benefit from greater global and regional economic integration, with its rich natural resources base, young labour force and strategic geographic location between India and China.

A key focus of the report is that of agricultural reform and sustainable development and the Review comes with recommendations for the support of its growth and development while dealing with land issues etc.

Trends in Foreign Investment are also examined and a cautionary note is cited where investor dissatisfaction with the investment climate might manifest itself in a declining share of investment. Both China and Vietnam witnessed declines in FDI in relative terms after the euphoria of the initial reform period wore off and as difficulties experienced by investors became widely known. Implementation of the Review’s recommendations it is hoped, will alleviate this.

Minister Zaw stressed the ownership of the Review process that Myanmar has enjoyed, which included the setting-up of a cross-government task force of 17 agencies to support the comprehensive nature of the project. ASEAN Dialogue Partners, Australia and New Zealand praised the Investment Policy Review process, which is also undertaken by other ASEAN Member States, and its track-record for triggering investment climate reforms.

The Minister urged other ASEAN Member States to follow suit and undertake OECD Investment Policy Reviews and also called upon international co-operation partners to support the implementation of the Review’s recommendations. Other ASEAN Member States which have undertaken, or are currently undertaking, OECD Investment Policy Reviews, include Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

OECD (2014), “Executive summary”, inOECD Investment Policy

Reviews: Myanmar 2014, OECD