Businesses in Myanmar generally welcome the Belt and Road Initiative’s (BRI) investment boost for the country’s infrastructure development.

Ken Tun

Ken Tun, chief executive officer of Parami Energy. Naing Wynn Htoon / The Myanmar Times

Some urged Myanmar to be more proactive in navigating its involvement in the scheme. Many emphasised the importance of transparency, public engagement and adhering to international practices. But some have also expressed reservation and scepticism against China’s ambitious scheme.

Last month, the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation attracted the largest number of foreign dignitaries to the Chinese capital since the 2008 Olympic Games. Launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 as “One Belt, One Road”, the scheme involves China underwriting billion-dollar investments, mainly in infrastructure, in countries along the old Silk Road and new routes, creating an extensive trade network by linking Asia, Europe and Africa. The financial commitment illustrates the ambition: China is spending roughly US$150 billion a year in the 68 countries which have signed on to the project. The China Development Bank alone has earmarked $890 billion for some 900 projects.

The Myanmar Times interviewed Jonathan Woetzel, McKinsey senior partner and McKinsey Global Institute director, as well as Bernard Chan, president of Asia Financial Holdings and grandson of Chin Sophonpanich, on how the BRI will play out in Myanmar and the region.

Political analysts and commentators have argued that China is ready to ensure a politically stable environment for its southwestern region, which is a core part of the BRI. This explains China’s political involvement in Myanmar’s peace process.

Now that the political aspect is unfolding gradually, The Myanmar Times asked businesses from various countries and sectors for their views of the BRI.

Good news for infrastructure but Myanmar should be more proactive

Ken Tun, chief executive officer of Parami Energy, said the country should realise its strategic importance in both land and maritime aspect of the BRI and be quick to act.

“Myanmar signed five agreements during the Beijing summit including the Belt and Road framework on cooperation and the issue of border trade. Myanmar plays a strategic role in both the land and maritime part of the BRI.

“It is important that Myanmar should push for proactive policies for BRI collaboration, particularly when other countries have already geared up to benefit from being part of the BRI,” he said.

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Source: MYANMAR TIMES (By Thompson Chau, Su Phyo and Myat Nyein Aye   |   Wednesday, 07 June 2017 )