The following discussion took place on Wednesday March 27th, 2019 in Bangkok at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand. A video feed is available at: (Video Credits: Julian Hadden).

Myanmar Economic Forum in association with the Asian Economic Forum invites you an opportunity to explore:

Economic Engagement with Myanmar – the road ahead

A panel conversation with:

Dr. Thet Thet Khine
Member of Parliament
Pyithu Hluttaw, Dagon Township

Dr. Saw Nay New
Deputy Managing Director
AA Medical Products Ltd.

Kyawt Kay Khaing
Deputy CEO
United Amara Bank Limited

in conversation with:

Jonathan Head
BBC SE Asia Correspondent

with an independent country assessment by:

John Fleming
Senior Commercial Officer and First Secretary
US Embassy, Yangon, Myanmar

and welcoming remarks by

Dinesh Ahluwalia
Asian Economic Forum Company Limited

Date: Wednesday, March 27th, 2018
Time: 7.00pm to 9.00pm
Venue: Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT)
Penthouse, Maneeya Center
518/5 Ploenchit Road (connected to the BTS Skytrain Chitlom station)
Patumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand

6.00 pm – 7.00 pm Registration & Networking
7.00 pm – 9.00 pm Welcome, Assessment followed by Discussions
9.00 am – 9.30 pm additional time reserved at the venue

Admission to this Discussion is free for all Myanmar Economic Forum, Asian Economic Forum & FCCT members, 450 Baht for non-FCCT members, and 150 Baht for Thai journalists and students with ID.

Overview & Recent Developments


After decades of military rule, Myanmar emerged onto the global scene with high profile visits of US President Obama and other global heads of state during the tenure of President Thein Sein, a former military general who to his credit undertook the first economic and democratic reforms that captured the imagination of global stakeholders & Myanmar citizens alike.

The optimism of the acceleration of economic liberalization and an emergence of a vibrant middle class under the democratic transition to a new civilian government lead by Opposition leader and Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was seen as a golden opportunity for Myanmar to capitalize on the global goodwill created that could have potentially resulted in significant foreign direct investment (FDI) for economic benefit for all stakeholders involved.

Unfortunately, the events in Rakhine in August 2017 brought an end to the potential economic miracle opportunity. The aftermath of the Rohingya exodus without any prosecution to the perpetrators of the crimes or the absence of any leadership to a national healing process has created a significant reputational risk for most large Western businesses which has acted to date as natural hurdle rate for any sizeable investment. As such the optimism and dreams of an entire generation and a country seem to have dissipated quite rapidly with no end in sight.

While political concessions and re-settlements decisions timelines are unknown and perhaps any such decision, if forthcoming will eventually be reached based on election cycles, local political considerations and other geopolitical calculations. The ambiguity of these timelines serves as no certainty to larger Western stakeholders. Adding to the complexity Myanmar is also faced with the continued ethnic armed conflicts in border states and the case of the two jailed Reuters journalist Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, all of which adds to the discomfort and outrage amongst most Western stakeholders.

While most Myanmar businesses complain on the lack of economic policy leadership by its Government, Myanmar continues to have modest GDP growth as FDI’s continue to come more pragmatic investors emanating from China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Thailand etc.

Additionally a significant uptrend in the Myanmar economy is the growing bilateral trade within the textile sector with the European Union. However there are credible news reports on potential trade sanctions on Myanmar over the Rohingya crisis, potentially stripping Myanmar of tariff-free access to the European Union.

It is against this backdrop, the questions that we keep asking ourselves at the Myanmar Economic Forum, how does the West economically engage effectively with Myanmar & what does the term “engage effectively” mean or what are the outcomes that can be targeted?

To help us in our engagement journey, we are bringing together to the FCCT in Bangkok, what we believe, is the next generation women leaders from Myanmar who are dynamic, pragmatic and articulate. We hope to engage in a solution focused atmosphere.

Some of the other questions that we look to extract from this interactive discussion will be:

How do sections of Myanmar’s political, business and financial sector stakeholders engage with their Western counterparts in today’s environment?

Can economic engagement and investment from the West bring a focus on transparency and hiring decisions to disrupt the well-established (antiquated) norms of business in Myanmar and provide meaningful employment opportunities to a larger section of their society?

What role can the larger Western business community play in helping the next generation of leaders (political, business and banking) to help empower them in encouraging them to play a larger role in economic policy leadership in their own country?

We look forward to your participation and some engaging conversations.

Related Developments:

European Council.

Council of the European Union. Press Release dated December 21st, 2018

EU adds 7 military and border guard police officials responsible for human rights violations to sanctions list.

US Congress.

115th Congress (2017-2018) H.Res.1091 dated December 13th, 2018:

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that atrocities committed against the Rohingya by the Burmese military and security forces since August 2017 constitute crimes against humanity and genocide and calling on the Government of Burma to release Burmese journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo sentenced to seven years imprisonment after investigating attacks against civilians by the Burmese military and security forces, and for other purposes –