What is Myanmar Famous forMyanmar is famous for what?
It is not surprising that many global investor have looked at Myanmar's rich reserves of nature for industrial use.
Myanmar has been renowned for its richness in all types of nature since antiquity. Sanskrit name Suvarnabhumi, which means "Golden Land", has been associated with Myanmar for over two-thousand years. Myanmar's current reserves comprise petroleum and methane, various mineral, gem and stone, wood and forestry materials, hydroelectricity and more.
The most precious of these are methane, ruby, jade berries and wood blocks and currently represent a significant part of the population. Until today, systematical research of Myanmar's nature is very limited due to the shortage of advanced surveying technologies. While all commodity industries have different policies for developing, an overall policy - especially in the power industry - can be described as "more and faster".
" As it was clear that the reforms were under way after the 2010 elections, prospective investments have come to Myanmar to look for possibilities, especially in the power and coal industries. At the end of 2012, a new FDI Act was adopted after lengthy discussions on the scope of possible FDI rights and constraints on investments.
There is still a reform of the 1994 Mines Act and many sponsors believe that a modification of the signatory premiums and conditions of production-sharing agreements will be necessary before investments in this industry can be made. Recent FDI in Myanmar is officially focused on the oil/gas and hydro power industries, with third place in value-wise.
In the 2010/11 fiscal year, capital expenditure promises amounted to around 30 x the 22-year averages. Principal contributors by countries were Myanmar's neighbours China (including Hong Kong) and Thailand, followed by South Korea, Singapore and others. Whereas the overwhelming bulk of the population of the nation's workers are sub-sistence farmer, the biggest revenues have been generated by the natural-gas and gem-set and semi-precious gem production sectors with a 2011-2012 income of $3.6 billion and a gem income of around $3.
Estimations of non-formal income from this industry are much higher. The $3. 4 billion government illustration is felt to fluctuate between $5. 5 and $15 billion, but public finance information is scarce. 3. Myanmar's Department of Defense is listing $3. 2 billion barrel of documented petroleum and 11. 8 trillion cu. ft (about eight trillion cu. ft. in the world) of natural resources, but the figures are open to discussion.
Burma is one of the oldest petroleum producing countries in the word, exporting its first cask in 1853 under the colonization of the United Kingdom. In the 90s the large-scale production of gases began, and in 1998 the first CNG line to Thailand was completed. Back then, the project was one of the most contentious global developments in the field of CNG, and humanitarian organisations reproached the army regime for "serious and common violations of people' s dignity by Nazi regime in the name of business".
" The Myanmar economies have probably been saved from catastrophe by the use of the proceeds from the sale of gaseous fuels since around 2000, helping the Burmese army jungle to live despite global sanction. In spite of a scarcity of methane for the local markets, most of the country's methane is still export. It is not yet clear, however, how the energy and revenue will be used for the people of Myanmar.
Hydropower is currently the second biggest beneficiary of investments after oil/gas. But it could become the biggest investor in Myanmar in the near-term. 16 photovoltaic systems, currently underway and expected to be fully operational by 2015, will produce 3,478 MW (demand in 2011 was 1,588 MW).
A dozen more are in the pipeline. However, as in the case of prospecting for pipeline oil, most of the power is destined for exported, especially to China, but also to Thailand and India. Hydroelectric power continues to play a major role in the country's newly developed power generation strategies.
It has revived earlier assessments of the hydroelectric power capacity, which is expected to have the capacity to supply more than 100,000 MW of power. Included in this estimation are many major river basins, such as the Myitsone Irrawaddy River and Salween River Hatgyi Ridges, which would not comply with the World Commission on Dams' policy to consider lower impact tributaries embankments.
There is still very little general acceptability of mass hydroelectric exports, as only 26% of Myanmar's more than 60 million inhabitants have accessibility. By June 2012, the growing shortage of cleanup capacity in the big metropolitan areas led to wide-spread, non-violent government protest, with street protesters demanding more and dependable sources of cleanup and an end to policies on exporting cleanup.
Resistance by civic organizations to major hydroelectric power plants, which were criticised for floods in large areas and forced the locals to relocate, also resulted in a nation-wide anti-Myitsone hydroelectric power plant in the state of Kachin. To the Myanmar population, the world' s general population, and China' s investment community, the stop of the initiative was a surprising experience, causing embarrassment and diplomacy between the two states.
Burma is extremely prosperous from a geological point of view, and it is important to mine both as a major economy and in small craftwork. The deposits include all industries, as well as basic materials (gold, cupper, white, plumb, zinc, pewter, anti-money, iron, etc.), manufactured materials, fuels (mainly coal), precious stones (jade, ruby, sapphire, etc.) and ore.
Burma is perhaps best known for golden, Jade, rubies and sapphire. In the past, it is believed that 90 per cent of the world's ruby originated in Myanmar. At the moment the state is striving to monitor and administer all facets of the manufacture and sales of Java and precious stones, but in this industry, as in the golden industry, there are large non-formal and illicit industry.
It is active in the coal industry, both through the award of licences or lease agreements to private equity firms and state mines. Legislation on mines ( "Bergbaugesetz", 1994) provides protection for undertakings active in the field of mines and gives landowners very few privileges. At the moment, miners have extensive legal freedom to do what they want. A Memorandum of Understanding between Myanmar's mine authority and China's Ministry of Land Resources resulted in six large scale contracts by 2008.
There are currently three large new or extension plans in operation. At the end of 2012, the case of the Monywa coal mine by Wanbao of Norinco, a wholly owned affiliate of the China weapons producer, attracted widespread interest. In the context of the mine construction plan, municipalities were protesting against the seizure of property and ecological degradation.
Burma has yet to clarify priority areas for lan use and mechanism for solving disputes over rival use. As in other Southeast Asian emerging economies, however, it is anticipated that a "Hydrocarbons and Trumps Everything" approach will be applied, which is far from satisfying. Since 2011, Myanmar's lands disputes have been exploding, not only in the mineral extraction and mines.
Although Myanmar's nationals are rich in a wealth of indigenous ecosystems, they are among the impoverished in Asia and are lagging behind their ASEAN neighbours in all respects of man. Myanmar's indigenous forests have been exploited in an un-sustainable and opaque way for many years of armed conflict and maladministration. In the past, the absence of openness has led to many issues about possible embezzlement.
Whilst selling off to neighbouring states, the indigenous people remained empty-handed. Much of the resource base is found in areas of the countrys ethnicity, where long-running ethical disputes have often led to an economy of struggle to maintain decade-long military opposition to the federal state. There is a high risk of conflicting and damaging the delicate peacemaking process through investments in these areas.
There are many commentators who are agreed that the continuing Kachin dispute is essentially about competing for domestic sources. The unparalleled investments currently being made in the field of renewable energy will greatly boost the pressures on our planet's resource base, our municipalities and our country's capacity to deal with development in a socially and responsibly way. Because of the currently poor regulation environment, FDI has the capacity to put considerable additional pressures on an already highly stressed system.
Significant advances have also been made towards greater openness and greater accountability, in line with other far-reaching policy and macroeconomic reform in Myanmar in 2012. A number of Myanmar civic organisations are supporting the Greater Visibility in the field of the environment and have called on the Chinese authorities to pursue this path after taking very favourable early action.
When the impact of investment in the area of renewable raw materials can be correctly estimated and controlled and revenues can be treated responsibly and in a transparent manner, the possible benefit could be high. Enrichment from the country's abundance of nature could finance a significant part of Myanmar's transitional period if it is well-governed. Can Myanmar prevent the errors of many others and turn its ressource spell into a boon?
Allan has been living in Asia for almost 10 years and has been living in Myanmar for seven years. He has a background in the areas of corporate sustainability, corporate strategies and execution, as well as dispute and mitigation - with a particular emphasis on sustainability and crisis prevention - and a soft licence to work in Myanmar.
During 2007, he established the Spectrum Group in Myanmar for political work and services in the areas of sustainability, managing resources, openness, social responsibility and the enviroment. Since 2010, he has coordinated the Foundation's Myanmar programme and has travelled extensively to Myanmar.