Myanmar’s military coup threatens the country’s development: World Bank

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    The lender says it had a $ 900m exposure to Myanmar in 2020 and is committed to a transition to democracy and sustainable development.

    The World Bank says it was seriously concerned about the current situation in Myanmar and the military takeover of power, warning of events that gave a major blow to the country’s transition and prospects of its development.

    “We are concerned about the safety and security of people in Myanmar, including our employees and partners, and are upset over the closure of communication channels with Myanmar and the outside world,” the bank said in a statement released on Monday.

    The Myanmar army on Monday handed over power to military chief General Min Aung Hlaing, and responded by calling it an electoral fraud, imposing a year-long emergency.

    The move drew condemnation from Western leaders and the threat of new sanctions by the United States, and raised questions about the outlook for one million Rohingya refugees.

    Myanmar Chief Senior General Min Aung Hling, Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces [File: Ye Aung Thu/AFP]

    The World Bank said it was a committed partner to support Myanmar’s transition to democracy for the past 10 years, as well as its efforts to enhance broad-based sustainable development and social inclusion.

    “We are committed to these goals. The statement said that our thoughts are with the people of Myanmar.

    The bank’s website lists $ 900m in World Bank lending commitments to Myanmar in 2020 and $ 616m in 2017.

    This is what has been called the measurable improvement in social welfare since the country’s inauguration in 2011, from a 25 percent drop in poverty in 2017 to 48 percent in 2005.

    The pace of reform slowed after 2016 as a newly elected civilian government struggled with defining its economic vision, the bank said, although it added that the government had recently adopted an ambitious sustainable development plan and Re-strengthened its economic reform agenda.

    Economy under pressure

    The bank said that in FY 2019/2020 the economic growth rate has come down to just 0.5 per cent as compared to 6.8 per cent a year ago, although it said that if the COVID-19 pandemic is opposed the economy could grow by 2.5 per cent is.

    Trade experts and analysts say the coup is likely to reduce companies in the US and other Western countries to invest in Southeast Asian nations.

    According to data from the US Census Bureau, the total turnover of goods between Myanmar and the US was approximately $ 1.3 billion in the first 11 months of 2020 to about $ 1.3 billion in 2019.

    Paniva, the supply chain research unit of S&P Global Market Intelligence, said apparel and footwear accounted for about 41 percent of total goods, followed by about 30 percent of goods and about 4 percent of fish.

    Luxury manufacturer Samsonite and privately owned apparel maker LL Bean are among the big US importers, along with Myanmar’s sources, as well as retailers H&M and Adidas, Panjiwa said.

    US imports have increased in part due to tariffs on goods from China, but Myanmar is still ranked only 84th on the list of US goods suppliers, according to US data.

    The World Bank led by Singapore and Hong Kong reported a 33 percent increase in total foreign direct investment commitments to $ 33 billion in Myanmar in FY 2019-2020, but the outlook was uncertain due to the epidemic and market growth.


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