Visiting Nay Pyi Taw for the first time was an unusual experience. The new airport at the new capital city sees just two flight arrivals per day - we arrived from Bangkok by WEF charter flight, charter flights brought the grand total to 4! Immigration officers stopped to photograph the queues! Roads from the airport were empty, no advertising board to be seen - surely a first for the Asia business traveller.
Transformational changes began a couple of years ago and Government officials were candid and transparent on the challenges ahead. They simply cannot move as fast as they would like eg on-line business licence applications cannot be developed under existing Company laws - those laws were written by the British in 1914 and did not contemplate the day of the internet! Such legacy issues will need to be dealt with one by one. In the early 1960's Myanmar was heralded as a highly influential Asian economy. After 40 plus years in the wilderness it exhibits a determination to become so again.
As a nation of 60m it faces multiple challenges in education (major skills shortages as a platform for growth) healthcare, economic reform, and humanitarian conflicts to name a few.
The unwavering sense of the debates and discussion at the Forum were "realistically positive". It will not be an overnight success. Foreign direct investment will come in a measured way, bringing skills at the same time. Progress can and will be made and a time measure of the Governments achievements will be reflected in election results 2015. In the meantime a consensus view of sustainable GDP growth of 8-11% per annum over coming years is established.
A (re)new(ed) tiger economy is on the way.
Location: Myanmar (Burma)