After decades of isolation, Myanmar has undertaken important
liberalize both its economy and its government
over the past few months. This initial progress has generated
significant buzz about the prospects of the Burmese economy going
[caption id="attachment_56101" align="alignright" width="220"
caption="Aung San Suu Kyi meets Secretary of State Hilary Clinton
on Christmas eve, 2011"]
Under the ruling military junta, Myanmar spent decades under an
oppressive regime whose extractive economic system resulted in
perpetual economic stagnation.
However, President Thein Sein has recently implemented a number
of progressive reforms, including allowing free elections which saw
Aung San Suu Kyi-led opposition rout
the incumbent, military-backed party.
As a result of this increased openness, western entities like
the European Union and the United States are considering lifting
sanctions. This development has attracted the attention of
potential foreign investors as resource-rich Myanmar could be
poised for an economic boom.
Unfortunately, because of existing sanctions and the lack of an
existing stock exchange (
Japanese firms are looking to set one up quickly
) obtaining direct exposure to Myanmar in the near term may be
Given these structural impediments, the best way to play Myanmar
may be through Thailand (
). Thailand is Myanmar's largest export market and second largest
import market, the latter of which
is set to boom
with an easing of import restrictions and a progressively freer
As well, trade delegations have exchanged visits, a
double-taxation treaty has been signed, and additional border
checkpoints have been approved. These agreements bode well for
Thai-Myanmar trade, which should give Thai companies an
early-entrant advantage to this nascent boom.