Myanmar Monitor


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Photo credit: World Bank

Economy, Investment and Trade

Myanmar audits state-owned banks
The World Bank is working with the Myanmar government to audit the country’s four state-owned banks. This comes as the country looks to modernise and restructure its financial system to support the rapid growth it is experiencing. According to a lead counsel from the World Bank team, the state banks are undercapitalised and part of the restructuring seeks to recapitalise the banks without putting too much pressure on the fiscal side for government. The four banks have total assets of US$63 billion which is the equivalent of 20 percent of Myanmar’s gross domestic product.
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Myanmar’s largest private bank is looking to sell stake to foreign firm
KBZ is willing to sell a stake to a foreign lender in order to begin expansion within the country. However, the ability to sell to a foreign firm remains subject to changes in regulation and the central bank. Myanmar is mulling over changes in the companies law which would allow foreign investors to acquire up to 35 percent ownership in a local firm. KBZ is looking to double the number of branches it has to 1000 by 2020 and may consider an initial public offering to fund expansion efforts. Many companies are looking for foreign funding to expand their operations as the demand continues to grow rapidly in the country which saw the economy grow 8.1 percent last year. Myanmar remains one of Asia’s most under-banked countries.
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Thai Exim bank to open office in Yangon
Thailand’s Export-Import Bank will be opening a representative office in Yangon in April once it has received a permit to trade and registered the office with Myanmar’s Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development. The main goal of the branch will be to support Thai businesses looking to expand or start-up in Myanmar. Thai direct investment in Myanmar mainly goes to the following industries: natural gas exploration and production, power plants, and cement and construction material manufacturing.
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Foreign Affairs

Myanmar may be spared an international investigation on human rights abuses
A draft resolution prepared by the European Union indicates that it has decided not to pursue an international investigation into the matter. This investigation was urged by the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein. However, the EU has taken the lead within the UN Human Rights Council on issues related to Myanmar and EU diplomats would like to give the domestic process within Myanmar more time.
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Cambodia offers help in resolving unrest in Myanmar
Prime Minister Hun Sen has offered to lend Myanmar a hand in resolving the country’s struggle with minorities. Cambodia plans to send officials to Myanmar to pass on lessons of his “win-win” policy. These officials will go to Myanmar to study the situation and try to provide a solution using the framework of the “win-win” policy which is premised on the idea of shared prosperity in peacetime. Hun Sen credits this policy for convincing Khmer Rouge rebels to disarm and accept a unified government in the 1990s.
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