(From Myanmar Times)
By Nyan Lynn Aung
The challenges Myanmar faces as it prepares to join the Asean Economic Community are formidable, said economists, as regional countries prepare to form a unified economic group on December 31.
The AEC vision is a globally integrated single market and production base in a highly competitive economic region, with equitable development. In theory, the economic bloc will lead to unlimited investment and trade opportunities between members.
In practice, the barriers are high. Along with Cambodia and Laos, Myanmar has been granted an extension and will not join the AEC until 2018, but economists say even this target may be hard to meet.
“It is true that we are struggling to prepare for the AEC,” economic adviser to the president U Zaw Oo told The Myanmar Times.
“So we are stepping very carefully. We of course need to develop our economic infrastructure, but we must build it without leapfrogging.”
In infrastructure development, a key driver of economic growth, Myanmar lags well behind other countries in the region, including Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
Poor infrastructure is a major barrier to competitiveness. Myanmar is rated 145 out of 160 countries in the World Bank’s 2014 Logistics Performance Index – the lowest score in Asia. This will put it at a disadvantage once it joins the regional community.
They pointed out that the country still needs to tackle essential issues such as food security, competition laws, intellectual property rights and gearing up its agriculture sector, to allow a smooth entry to the AEC. Read more