Is Burma a third World CountryAre Burma a third world country?
Three of the "Third World" - BRICS Business Magazine
Recent years' turbulent geopolitics - with the Middle East and Eastern European crisis - have returned the term "political" or "geographical" one. Internationally operating companies must take into consideration the particularities of the region and its policies and the battle for clout.
However, policy not only carries risk, it also opens up new and very appealing commercial possibilities. Firstly, Iran ratified a treaty that removed most unsustainable supranational penalties. Secondly, Cuba has had a pioneering mission from the President-in-Office of the United States, who has initiated a number of measures aimed at ending the longest trading blockade in contemporary Iran.
On April 1, 2016, the new Myanmar democracy was officially inaugurated, which should open a new economical age. In total, the three nations that are re-entering the world of global commerce have a total populations of almost 150 million inhabitants and a GNP of over 500 billion dollars.
Undoubtedly, the world has not seen such an economical incident since the "opening" of the Sovjet block in 1990. Even the 2016 incidents are not only changing the world's trading cards, they also have a far-reaching effect on ideology. We can see an effort to analyse together three different nations - thousands of kilometres apart, sharing neither languages nor religions and having little commercial relations - as an effort to impose the historic significance of a series of fortuities.
But despite the lack of a truly common past, there are many notable similarities between the three states. These three lands were the scenes of some of the most intensive nine-teenth and early twentieth century wars. The Iran (at that was Persia ) was fiercely fought over by Great Britain and Russia. Not only have both conquered significant parts of Persia's territorial area, but they have also tried to achieve a degree of domination politically and economically - while at the same thwarting each other's progress.
The country therefore enters the twentieth centuries with almost no railways and very few cablegraphs. Cuba was the last large Colonies of the Spain krona in the other Hemisphera in the latter part of the nineteenth cent. In the 1860' a violent rebellion was defeated by the rebels, but it did not bring much peacefulness to the country.
For almost 30 years, the outcome was official externally monitored autonomy (within the framework of the so-called "Platt Amendment"). After the 1933 upheaval and the end of its dependency on the North, the country's economic situation remained highly reliant on the US markets and was still ruled by US businesses. Burma was the centre of the most important mediaeval kingdom in Southeast Asia, which was also a powerful actor in the matters of India's east.
As a result, the whole country came under the control of Britain (which also tried to stop the rise of France in Indochina) and after three battles (1824-26, 1852 and 1885). Burma was a pivotal front in World War II, as the site of a rapid first attack by Japan, which tried to penetrate Britain-India and disrupt the line of supplies from the Allied armed services to China.
Myanmar sought to gain Japan's sovereignty in 1943, but the rulers of the independent movements became more and more discontented with the cause of Japan and joined the Allies in 1944, even at the cost of the Allies' sovereignty (it was formally re-established in 1948 through negotiation with the British Empire). It was not just a historical accident that the unusually intense battles for the three lands took place in the colonies.
The three are conveniently situated in the centre of important global areas - the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and Central Asia - and are thus centres of business and politics. Turbulences in the country's turbulent era made a major contribution to their nationality. All of them had a powerful story of the fight for freedom, marked by armist opposition and anti-colonialism.
During the Cold War, this fight became more intense, as the country's geographical position made it increasingly appealing as a sphere of socialist and capitalist power. By 1951 Iran tried to socialize the petroleum industries in one of the most important anti-imperialist movements of the age. In 1953, a CIA backed repatriation of the country to "capitalism as usual" for a few dozen years - but leaving a profound mark in the country's nation's pride.
About five years later the Cuba guerrillas, headed by Castro and Che Guevara, repressed the corruption of the pro-Western dictatorship Batista, and in a brief period of inauguration the country formally announced the persecution of nationalism. 1962, after the attempted putsch, Burma became a member of the Burmese welfare group. Eventually, Iran's pro-Western (and corrupt) Iranian shadow was removed in 1979 by the Muslim revolutionary movement, which was also strongly anti-American (although the country's relationship with the "godless" USSR was also very tense, especially after the Afghanistan invasion).
Revolution in Iran and Cuba turned out to be remarkable alive and survived the collapse of the communist block. Indeed, they are among the few nation where powerful xenologies exist in today's largely post-ideological world. Although significant steps have been taken to liberalise the country's economy, they formally stand by the ideals of their founder revolutionaries:
Each of the three states had very uncomfortable relationships with West European democracy, which led to very limited business relationships. Indeed, two of them - Cuba and Iran - were subject to the US formal trading ban, while Iran was confronted with global penalties from 2010-2014. Ideological developments, together with embargoes and penalties, have had a powerful and multifaceted impact on the socio-economics of the three states.
Firstly, their pace of expansion was relatively sluggish. Cuba' s GDP grew better than the Latino America averages in the 70s and 80s, but has been lagging behind the continent's pace for the last 25 years. Myanmar began its socialist era in the 1960' as one of the richer states in the area, but it appeared on the world' s least advanced country shortlist in the 1990'.
In the 1980s Iran had a particularly hard economical past with devastations by the Iran-Iraq Wars (1980-1988). In the 2000s, the country was on a constant course of expansion with the emergence of the domestic economy, but penalties and the fall in the price of crude in the 2010s led to its contribution to the country's economy's difficulties, and between 2010 and 2014 its gross domestic product fell by an annual two-thirds.
At the same time, the three nations are clearly leaders within the "Third World" in certain areas of the economy. Cuba is best known for its medicinal and pharmacy colleges and the establishment of one of the best healthcare system in less developed world. Iran, on the other side, has shown considerable technological skills with its atomic and rocket programmes, which it has now switched to civilian use through a boom in the ITs.
Burma has also attached great importance to science in a generally low-income environment; since 1955, the country has sought to promote research into its own nuclei, and in 2007 the country's programmes will be relaunched with Russia's help. But all three have a multitude of classical Third World issues that call their own economical developments into question.
Iran's street densities remain at 10% of the OECD mean; Myanmar has only half as much. Cuba, which is very small with a possible range of less than 1,500 km, is about a third of the OECD standard (and the statistic does not record the real lane condition, which is far below the standard of a present-day road).
Cuba and Myanmar are also dependent on import fuels despite some new domestic production trends. Consequently, power is rather short (per head in Myanmar is three per cent of the OECD level). There is a shortage of important industries with too great a share from the agricultural sector. Much more industrialised is Iran (e.g. it manufactures more automobiles than Italy per year), but most of its factories are either old, low technology (due to import limitations on sophisticated equipment) or both.
In Cuba, too, the ageing of property is a very serious problem: It is a dwindling global commodity, and Iran, Cuba and Myanmar are no exceptions. Even in the near future, Cuba seems to be a politically questionable country. Now acting as the country's chief, Raul Castro may have founded a certain fans group around the world by cleverly preventing Barack Obama's embrace, but the truth is that in a few years' time both Castro Brethren will no longer be in charge.
So it seems that no one inside or outside the Isle of Freedom has a clear vision of who will rule the country in the 2020s - or how. Burma seems dramatically different as its people have at last won a free election and have the first democratic administration in more than half a centurys time.
She is probably the most powerful in the country's new story, under the informal guidance of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Prize's favourite and powerful laureate, who is the son of the nation's former leader and former prisoners of conscience. Iran is a much more cohesive and sustainable democratic country.
That does not mean that the country does not have intensive political ideology between the conservative and the reformist. Indeed, the front of debate covers all possible questions of survival - from the question of whether the SEC should force the Hijaq to the question of whether one can trust West European nations in the upcoming privatisation proces.
At present, the reformist forces are on the rise, but it is not only the country's domestic policy that will determine who has the last word. In the long run, the reformists' achievement in Iran will depend very much on further progress in the field of global economic and political relations: the simplification of tourist routes, the signing of treaties, the creation of investments in banks' account, more brand names in showcases, and so on.
is that the West has its own powerful group of right-wingers in everything that affects Iran (and also Cuba). When US oratory and action returns to the mentality of the early 2000s, the hopes of both Iranian and Cuba' s fans for greater open-mindedness will certainly be severely undermined.
When the three nations really do re-enter the world market, there will be huge profits on both sides. Firstly, external investments can result in the development of natural resources. Myanmar's and Iran's global possession of oils in the latter part of the twentieth centuries has eclipsed the fact that Iran and Myanmar probably have very important reserves of metal that go unexplored.
Myanmar is still smaller and Iran has estimated that less than 10% of its land has been duly mined. Kuba has world-class silver reserves that are definitely untapped. While all three have favourable climatic conditons, farming output is very efficient due to obsolete technology and logistical constraints of today.
Cuba in particular can profit from the worldwide advance for biofuels - the distillation of bioethanol from sucrose and thus protection against the volatile nature of the world' s sucrose market - but this calls for an injection of new technologies and investments. In the three states there are increasing chances as supermarkets. Particularly noteworthy is Iran with its more than 70 million inhabitants, most of whom are young and becoming more and more Western.
Simultaneously, Cuba must definitely scrape away its painterly vintage vehicles and substitute them with contemporary and effective ones. However, the great chances for the three nations are in the geoeconomics - this peculiarity is the keys to puzzles in the region. As multimodal transport continues to develop, Myanmar and Iran offer outstanding surface transport to the Indian Ocean - from the interior of China, Europe and Russia.
Cuba, on the other hand, can try to regain the position of a local platform for offshore high-tech production and refinery (e.g. in the pharmaceutical sector) that it had in the nineteen-forties and fifties. It is interesting that the three nations are becoming the scene of a new kind of worldwide economic contest - between the "classic" multinationals of the West and the "emerging MNCs" from nations such as China, India or Russia.
Until then, the'East' had important benefits in the Iran, Cuba and Myanmar marketplaces - both through proximity and affordability. Will" Eastern" enterprises gain further shares of the open economy? It will be a good test of their ability to compete internationally.
But in this new age of Iran, Myanmar and Cuba's history, putting them at the centre of the world's important areas can be an opportune, not a scourge.