The Economist – “The promise – and the pitfalls”

25 May 2013 | From the print edition

Check out the full article here.

MANY OUTSIDERS SEE Myanmar’s opening up as an unmissable economic opportunity. It is the last large Asian country to become connected to the world economy, leaving only North Korea, which is both smaller and infinitely less promising. Myanmar, with about 60m people, is closer to Thailand (70m) or Vietnam (88m). Indeed, its rapid development recalls Vietnam’s opening up, the doi moi, in the late 1980s, after decades of war and isolation …

Beneath a thin veneer of expertise and dedication at the very top, much of the bureaucracy consists of former military officers who have been provided with sinecures. They constitute what is known as the “green ceiling”, which means that getting anything done can take a long time. According to Romain Caillaud, a Yangon-based consultant for Hans Vriens & Partners, a consultancy, “there are still very few multinationals making money in Myanmar…tenders require a lot of work to be completed, it takes a lot of effort and makes the process unprofitable.”