Integrity Legal

24th January 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention, via the print media in Bangkok, Thailand; that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), along with other organizations and individuals, are calling for an end to the economic sanctions being imposed against the Union of Myanmar (sometimes interchangeably referred to as Burma). While researching this issue online this blogger came upon the following quotation from Rttnews.com:

An informal meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has called for the lifting of economic sanctions against the military regime of Myanmar.

The meeting, held on the Indonesian island of Lombok, made the call citing “significant” political progress made in the south-east Asian country.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, whose country holds the rotating chair of the ten-nation organization, told reporters: “We believe that the recent development needs to be responded by the international community, especially in order to ensure that the economic development in Myanmar can take place.”

He says ASEAN Ministers feel that the recent long-awaited Myanmar elections, which he described as “conducive and transparent, and the release of Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi warranted a positive international response.

The lifting of the sanctions against Myanmar still remains to be seen, but in the wake of the announcement from ASEAN the Straits Times official website is reporting that authorities in Myanmar are taking steps toward creating a stock exchange in Myanmar. To quote directly from the Straits Times website StraitsTimes.com:

BANGKOK – MYANMAR is in talks with South Korea’s bourse operator about opening a stock market, the latest in a series of steps by its military rulers aimed at drawing much-needed foreign capital to the country.

Korea Exchange is already involved in running the newly opened Laos Securities Exchange and is setting up a long-delayed stock market in Cambodia, which is due to open in July. Both are joint ventures with the respective governments.

In previous postings on this blog, the administration has discussed the unveiling of a Stock Exchange in Laos and the announcement that a Cambodian Securities Exchange is set to be opened in mid-2011. In the case of Myanmar, it would appear as though any plans for the eventual creation of a Myanmar securities exchange are still tentative as can be gathered from a further quote in the Straits Times posting:

A spokesman for Korea Exchange in Seoul said representatives had visited Myanmar twice. ‘But nothing has been decided,’ the official said.

Although the opening of a Myanmar Securities Exchange is not a foregone conclusion, there are many who can cite the myriad economic benefits that would accrue as a result of such a step. Furthermore, there are those who would argue that creation of economic opportunities in Myanmar would be beneficial for all Citizens of Myanmar based upon a sort of “rising tide raises all ships” logic. To quote further from the Straits Times:

Myanmar is rich in natural resources but its development has been held back by five decades of economic mismanagement under military dictators and by Western sanctions.

But reforms are under way. The authorities have privatised hundreds of state assets in the past year and are seeking to expand the banking, telecommunications, shipping and agricultural sectors. — REUTERS

Myanmar is truly a cornucopia of natural resources and economic opportunity, but at the time of this writing many nations, including the United States of America, have sanctions against this Southeast Asian nation which prohibit certain forms of commercial activity. There are some who argue that such sanctions actually exacerbate the plight of impoverished Myanmar Citizens. Such an argument generally postulates that easing of foreign trade restrictions, and the economic benefits which would likely arise from such a state of affairs, would accrue to the benefit of many of the market actors in Myanmar, many of whom live in poverty. Under such a theory, economic benefits would not necessarily exclusively accrue to the upper echelon of Myanmar as the less affluent would likely benefit, albeit indirectly, from the infusion of foreign capital, trade goods, intellectual property, and the further economic activity arising therefrom.

Even though a securities exchange in Myanmar may be merely in the discussion phase and is a long way from being created, those interested in doing business in Myanmar, or any other country in Southeast Asia, should take note of the information above as there are many who would argue that Myanmar will likely play a critical role in regional and global economics as well as trade.

For related information please see: US Company Registration, US Visa Myanmar, or Laos Securities Exchange.


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