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Myanmar’s Turn

Myanmar (formerly Burma) is delicately and deliberately making a turn. A few of them, actually, as hinted by the double entendre of this entry’s title. These “turns” include political reforms, not the least of which are free and fair elections that again have resulted in a victory for Aung San Suu Kyi – aka, “The Lady” – and transition toward a more market-oriented, globally integrated economy. Change offers a glimmer of hope that Myanmar’s turn as Southeast Asia’s renaissance darling has perhaps arrived, which is welcome news to policy wonks, investors and of course the nearly 60 million people living in Myanmar, and responsible members of the global community.

Having recently participated in a few meetings and roundtable discussions in Myanmar’s capital, Yangon, I am optimistic about the country’s future. However, anyone who understands Myanmar – the complexities surrounding its historical and ongoing social/political/economic dynamic – and the path for any country on the road to political and economic transition, knows this road could be bumpy.

Human resources and infrastructure development, technology transfer, capital infusion and legal reforms are paramount to Myanmar’s growth and well-being. I am happy to report that associates and I are planning a series of initiatives integral to this process, and I am hopeful that Loyola and its Quinlan School of Business will embrace opportunities that are surfacing, as we have done in other countries around the world.

Experience in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and other transitioning/emerging economies suggests to me the process will be difficult and challenging. The process also will present innumerable opportunities. With good leadership, multi-stakeholder commitment, and applications of best-practices implemented in other countries throughout the region, there is reason to be cautiously optimistic that, at long last, it is now Myanmar’s turn.

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