Data Matters No. 12
(This article is a translation of the original Burmese language version that ISP-Myanmar posted on its Facebook page on April 1, 2022.)
Myanmar received more than US$530 million in direct foreign investment between October 2021 and February 2022, designated by the State Administration Council (SAC) as a mini-budget period. ASEAN countries accounted for the highest investment collectively, with more than US$285 million. Singapore topped the list of individual country investors with US$277 million, followed by China with US$118 million. Other investors in Asia included Thailand (US$7 million), Japan (US$1 million), and Malaysia (US$300,000). This mini-budget period also saw the return of European investors for the first time since the military coup in February 2021, including US$4 million from the Netherlands and more than US$400,000 from France.
A sector-by-sector analysis shows that the service industry received the most foreign capital with more than US$206 million, accounting for 40 percent of total foreign investments. The manufacturing sector received the second-highest investment with US$139 million. The mining, oil and gas, real estate, and industrial sectors received no direct foreign investment during this period.
∎ Why does it matter?
Foreign investment is an important economic pillar for developing countries, but not all kinds of foreign investment guarantee economic growth. If the investments are resource-exploitative, inconsiderate of the environment, inconsiderate of human rights, and do not improve the livelihoods of the local people, they could further deteriorate the development of the country and cause further impoverishment and vulnerability among Myanmar people. This has been the case throughout successive military regimes in Myanmar. The information concerning which countries are currently investing in Myanmar and what kind of investments are entering the market is key to understanding the involvement of other countries in the current political crisis. Moreover, foreign investments have a direct impact on the long-term sustainable development of the country and the livelihoods of Myanmar people, so it is crucial to monitor any foreign investment developments. Particularly in the current situation in which information ecosystems are being corrupted and destroyed, it is important to keep track of the figures on foreign investment to check whether the military regime is being transparent in their reporting of investments they have approved.
∎ Other relevant readings
Information and statistics concerning the status of foreign investment can be studied using the official website of the Directorate of Foreign Investment and Company Administration, in which investment information is compiled on a monthly and yearly basis. In addition, reports and statistics released by the World Bank, annual reports of the Asian Development Bank, and papers published by Oxford Economics and the Economist Intelligence Unit can also be consulted.