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Private Sector Development

Maintaining momentum in Myanmar

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture

Myanmar is undergoing a historic transition. After decades of armed conflict and economic stagnation, the country is beginning to make important strides toward realizing its potential and the aspirations of its people.

Our engagement in Myanmar started more than 60 years ago when it became a member of the World Bank, soon after gaining independence from British rule.

Back in 1955, the Bank’s first economic report stated: “the lack of security remains a disrupting influence on the economic life of the country” while “the long term economic potentials are bright” on account of its moderate population growth and abundant natural resources. It also noted the importance of “encouraging private sector enterprise to improve the standard of living of the people”— these are topics that continue to resonate in today’s development discourse.

In the early 1950s, Myanmar’s GDP per-capita was comparable to that of Thailand, Korea, and Indonesia.  Like others in the region, Myanmar was coming out from colonial rule and a period of struggle. Sixty years on, Myanmar has a per capita GDP just above $1,100, less than one third the average for ASEAN countries and one of the lowest in East Asia.

The good news is that Myanmar has begun the catch up process. Major political and economic reforms since 2011 have increased civil liberties, reduced armed conflict, and removed constraints to trade and private enterprise that long held back the economy.


Garo Batmanian's picture
Also available in: English



From farm to chopsticks: Improving food safety in China

Garo Batmanian's picture
Also available in: 中文
A challenge for Chinese businesses is to re-capture the vast domestic market owing to the recent food scares that have seriously undermined the domestic brands.

After several high-profile food safety incidents, according to one recent survey, around 64% of Chinese consider food safety as the number one priority that affects their daily lives and requires immediate action by the government.

The Chinese government is taking these concerns very seriously and has launched important reforms in its system of food control. It promulgated a new Food Safety Law in 2009, and created a new food safety authority in 2013 to deal with these issues. These reforms are now rolling out to provincial and local levels. These reforms will eventually affect more than one million state officials, restructure more than a dozen government ministries, and revise more than 5,000 regulations. The reforms will result in a complete overhaul of the food control system and introduction of new global best practice policies for food safety.

Indonesia’s “continuing adjustment”

Alex Sienaert's picture

2013 has been a year of adjustment for Indonesia’s economy.  In the recent edition of the Indonesia Economic Quarterly report, the flagship publication of the World Bank Indonesia office, we asked the questions: what are the drivers of this adjustment and how should policy respond?

Myanmar: Thoughts Aboard the Yangon Circular Railway Train

Kanthan Shankar's picture

The Yangon Circular Railway is the local commuter rail network in Yangon, Myanmar. In this recording, World Bank Country Manager Kanthan Shankar boards the train on a three-hour ride around the city. "You see a panorama of life unfolding before you and you feel a part of the picture," he says, reflecting on the daily lives of the people in Yangon, "There's a huge opportunity for commerce and private sector growth. Yangon and Myanmar is lucky that it has basic infrastructure in place. It's a matter of rehabilitating these and aiming for a smoother ride to pave the way for commerce,"

Watch Kanthan's video blog:

Road to prosperity: five ways Mongolia can improve the quality of its infrastructure spending

Zahid Hasnain's picture
Also available in: Mongolian

Financed by the mining boom, government spending on new infrastructure in Mongolia has increased 35-fold in the past 10 years. But you would not know this from driving the pot holed streets of Ulaanbaatar or inhaling the smog filled air of the city, particularly in the ger areas.

A new World Bank report I co-authored examines why this increased spending is not resulting in equivalent benefits for the citizens of Mongolia in terms of better roads, efficient and clean heating, and improved water and sanitation services.

East Asia Pacific leads in seaport investments

David Lawrence's picture
Click image to view larger version.

In this digital age, it’s easy to forget that there is a staggering amount of physical goods moving across the globe. Most trade—80 percent by volume—moves through seaports. Trade in developing countries makes up a good chunk of the total, and is growing fast. Handshake, IFC’s quarterly journal on public-private partnerships (PPPs), reports trade in developing countries is growing at nearly 14 percent.

And a lot of this trade is happening in Asia. In its June 21, 2012 issue, the Economist reports that the center of gravity of cargo trade is shifting from Europe to Asia. So it should come as no surprise that Asia is leading investment in seaports. Handshake reports that from 2000-2011, the East Asia Pacific region accounted for nearly $14 billion—32 percent—of private investment in seaports, mainly from China. The Philippines and Singapore are also major Asian investors in seaport projects.

Much of this investment comes through PPPs. Does this really make a difference? I’d say it does. Private sector financing and expertise make seaports and shipping more efficient. This in turn benefits emerging markets, which are becoming more and more engaged in global trade.

Could seaport investments be a predictor of future trends in trade? If so, Asia will become even more of a trade hotspot than it is today.

For further information, read Issue #6 of Handshake: Air & Sea PPPs.

Infrastruktur Baru Aceh yang Menakjubkan

David Lawrence's picture

Available in English

Bandar udara baru di Banda Aceh seindah Taj Mahal – terang, dengan lantai marmer yang luas dan kubah yang indah. Kita bisa membayangkan ada sebuah kolam yang indah atau taman…OK, mungkin saya mulai berlebihan. Tapi bagi yang pernah merasakan bandar udara yang lama – mirip terminal bis di kota tua yang ditempeli landasan – pasti bisa mengerti kenapa saya sangat antusias.

Menjawab Tantangan Reformasi: Melakukan Bisnis di Indonesia

Katerina Leris's picture

Available in English

Ambisius dan naik pesat – kata-kata ini secara tepat menggambarkan Indonesia yang modern. Di tengah melambatnya ekonomi global, pada tahun 2009 Indonesia merupakan negara dengan pertumbuhan ekonomi tercepat ketiga di antara negara G-20 dan terus menunjukkan pertumbuhan ekonomi yang kuat, dengan proyeksi pertumbuhan sebesar 6,4% pada tahun 2012. Meningkatkan daya saing ekonomi dengan menciptakan iklim bisnis yang lebih kondusif merupakan salah satu prioritas Indonesia untuk tahun 2010-2014.

Like other cities in Indonesia, Banda Aceh has made strides in many areas measured.