The Republic of the Union of Myanmar (or more commonly known as Myanmar) has an area of 676,578 square kilometres, making it the second largest country in Southeast Asia. It shares borders with Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, and Thailand. Naypyidaw is the capital of Myanmar, and Yangon, as the former capital, is the country’s most important commercial centre.
International sanctions against Myanmar had been imposed over a long period of time. On 30 March 2011, the new Union Government, which is a partly civilian parliamentary government, came into power and embarked on a series of sweeping changes and reforms. These reforms, as well as the conduct of the 1 April 2011 by-elections, have led to widespread praise from the international community and immediate actions to ease the sanctions regime against the country to support its transition to democracy and its economic development. The United States (US) lifted the US dollar (USD) economic sanctions on Myanmar in October 2016.
The official language and primary medium of instruction of Myanmar is Myanmar (the same name as the country). The people are referred to as the Myanmar people or also Myanmar. The Myanmar consists of various ethnic groups, broadly consisting of Burmese (65%), Shan (6.4%), Karen (5.2%), Kachin (1.8%), Chin (1.6%), Mon (1.5%), and Rakhine (1.5%). English is also spoken in cities like Yangon and Mandalay in the north, particularly by the educated urban elite, and is the second language learned in government schools.
Myanmar’s official currency is the Myanmar kyat (MMK).
Myanmar’s economy is supported by abundant natural resources and commodities. Its largest export is natural gas, which is providing an increasingly important revenue stream.
The World Bank estimates that the country's gross domestic product (GDP) will expand by 6.7% in 2018, followed by an annual growth rate of 6.9% for the next two years. The most productive segments of the economy are currently the extractive industries, in particular oil and gas, mining, and timber. Other areas, such as manufacturing and tourism, which represent a small share of economic activity, are largely accounted for by state industries. Foreign direct investment (FDI) was largely channelled into telecommunications, oil and gas, and manufacturing.
Government policy makers taking office in April 2016 have committed to continuing reform, which is necessary if Myanmar is to achieve its growth potential. The new administration is expected to press for more transparency and deregulation, less red tape, improved education and training, and more effective and efficient government services.
The relaxing of foreign exchange controls is expected to propel imports upward and contribute to a widening of the current account deficit. Easing of economic sanctions imposed on Myanmar by industrial countries should lead to higher levels of trade and investment, as well as the resumption of assistance and concessionary financing, both from these countries and from international financial institutions.
Myanmar has an economic and trade agreement with Turkey and economic agreements with China, Cuba, Kuwait, Malaysia, and Singapore. It also has trade agreements with Bangladesh, China, India, Israel, Korea (Republic of), Laos, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Myanmar is a member of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), a signatory to the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS), and a party to the Framework Agreement on the ASEAN Investment Area (AIA). The AFTA provides for a particular schedule on duty reduction/exemption among ASEAN members (i.e. ASEAN Trade In Goods Agreement). As a member of ASEAN, Myanmar is a party to the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement, the ASEAN-Korea Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation, the ASEAN-Japan Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the ASEAN-India Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Agreement, and a free trade agreement between ASEAN and Australia and New Zealand. Negotiations for an EU-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement commenced in May 2007.
While the Myanmar government has good economic relations with neighbours, such as China and Thailand, significant improvements in the business and political climate and economic governance will be required to attract serious, long-term investment, particularly from western economies.
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