Myanmar’s business confidence plummets

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flickr/BDC/CC BY
flickr/BDC/CC BY

YANGON (Reuters) – Business confidence among entrepreneurs in Myanmar dropped “drastically” this year due to unclear economic policy, a survey showed yesterday, amid growing frustration over leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s management of the fledgling economy.

Suu Kyi has identified economic reform as a key goal to complete Myanmar’s democratic transition after decades of isolation under military rule, but the sluggish pace of change has disappointed many in one of the region’s poorest countries.

Investors are also wary that Myanmar may face reinstatement of some sanctions over its treatment of its Rohingya minority, further threatening Suu Kyi’s promise of a reformist government that would attract much-needed foreign investment.

Myanmar’s short-term business confidence dropped to 49 percent in 2017 from 73 percent a year ago, according to a survey by consultancy Roland Berger and the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

The study, which reflects views of about 500 local and international business owners in Myanmar, said the “lack of a clear economic policy and plan” is to blame for the drop.

“What the private sector seems to be looking for are much more specific plans, endorsed by the government,” said Thomas Klotz, managing partner of Roland Berger in Southeast Asia.

“What is missing so far is the communication of an overall economic transformation roadmap, with clear targets, timeline and quick wins.”

The survey was conducted earlier this year before the latest violence in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state that the United Nations said was “ethnic cleansing”, which Mr Klotz said was “likely to have further reduced investor confidence in Myanmar.”

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