Economic and social development has been stagnant in Myanmar despite its rich natural bounties and motivated human resources. The country's untapped potential as "Asia's last frontier" has been attracting the attention of foreign investors, overseas firms, international cooperation agencies and others, since its political change in 2011 and more recently after the election in 2015. This book presents insights on economic development in Myanmar, carrying out analysis on the basic structure of its economy, inclusive of the social and historical background.
"The Myanmar Economy－Its Past, Present and Prospects" is a compilation of the outcomes of the JICA Research Institute's research project "Issues and Challenges for Economic Development in Myanmar" carried out between 2008 and 2010. The book also includes recent developments and new knowledge to update the outcome of the research project.
There are nine chapters in the book. Chapter 1: "A New Light to Shine? Historical Legacies and Prospects for Myanmar's Economy") and Chapter 2: "Remnants of the Colonial Period and Economic Policies of Post-Independence: Through the Study of Hla Myint" are reviews of past literature. Chapters 3 through 8 cover empirical research carried out in five fields: macro-economic / financial development, physical social capital, agrarian development, indigenous modern manufacturers and economic relations with China. Chapter 9 presents a summary and conclusion.
The book's editor, Konosuke Odaka, professor emeritus of Hitotsubashi University and Hosei University, served as project leader of JICA's project "Myanmar-Japan Cooperation Programme for Structural Adjustment of the Myanmar Economy" implemented between 2000 and 2003. The joint research and survey project involved Japanese experts and high government officials of Myanmar. He also participated in the JICA-RI research project "Issues and Challenges for Economic Development in Myanmar" as principal researcher.
In the preface, Odaka notes, "Whether or not the economy will progress towards sustained growth greatly depends on how its past structure is transformed and adapted to the new international economic environment. For this purpose, a new road map for market development needs to be drawn and executed, with support both from inside and outside of the country." He also said that the analyses and five empirical studies in the book provide important pointers for drawing a road map.
In the Foreword, former JICA President Akihiko Tanaka wrote that a deep understanding of Myanmar is important when leaders and peoples in the country and abroad come together to undertake Myanmar's development. He said, "I am convinced that this book can be one of the important sources of such a body of knowledge."