Myanmar a potential Asian Tiger: UN official

24 April 2012

UNITED NATIONS (Associated Press) – The United Nations Secretary-General’s special adviser on Myanmar said the resource-rich but desperately poor nation has the potential to become an Asian Tiger if it promotes investment, eases financial restrictions and finds experts to develop the country.

Mr Vijay Nambiar (picture) gave his upbeat assessment on Tuesday, ahead of Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon’s visit to Myanmar this weekend. The four Asian Tigers refer to the highly-developed economies of Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea.

Mr Nambiar said Myanmar has undergone “extraordinary” political changes after more than 20 years of “almost self-inflicted hibernation” under the military junta that made way for a nominally-civilian government in 2010, and praised President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi for their roles in the rapid reforms over the past year-and-a-half.

He also said the decision of the 10-member Association of South-east Asian Nations to choose Myanmar to chair the regional bloc in 2014, and the recent suspension of United States and European Union sanctions, were “game changers”.

According to Mr Nambiar, one of the most important imperatives today is to develop Myanmar, which is going to require expanding the capacity of government institutions and changing regulations, deciding what kind of internal and foreign investments are needed, and planning to develop the country’s private sector.

The first thing the UN plans to do is try and help the government prioritise its development plan and once these requirements are met, Mr Nambiar said: “I think there is a strong possibility that Myanmar can emerge as a tiger.”