BURMA (Myanmar) is open for business and looking for global investors to help boost the economy, de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi said on Monday, after faltering economic reforms and allegations of genocide have plagued the nascent democracy in recent years.
“I stand here to reaffirm our commitment to continue our reform and to build an investment-friendly environment,” Suu Kyi said in the capital Naypyitaw, as reported by Reuters. She was at the launch of the first official investment conference hosted by her administration.
Suu Kyi listed the attributes that make Burma a solid investment opportunity, including its economic potential, attractive geographical location, expanding domestic markets, and young population.
“Please do come to Myanmar, soak in an atmosphere brimming with opportunities and witness our new-found economic vibrancy with your own eyes,” she told a crowd of business people, diplomats and journalists gathered at a conference hall.
Despite its qualities, business has been reluctant to invest in Burma in large part due to the Rohingya crisis occurring in Rakhine State.
Over 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled across the border to neighbouring Bangladesh since a military crackdown began in late 2017. Refugees were fleeing the violence that the United Nations has labelled ethnic-cleansing.
The crisis has brought renewed attention to the ongoing confrontation between armed forces and the Rohingya minority, and caused many in the international community to call for action against Burmese leadership.
The European Union (EU) is considering trade sanctions on Burma over the crisis, potentially stripping the country of tariff-free access to the world’s largest trading bloc.
This uncertainty has put many businesses off investing in the country until they know exactly what further measures could be taken.
The World Bank said last month that it expected Burma’s gross domestic product to fall to 6.2 percent in 2018-19 fiscal year from 6.8 percent the year before.
It saw “elevated downside risks from intensifying impacts of the Rakhine crisis,” among other factors contributing to slowing growth.
Additional reporting by Reuters.