Foreign investment in Myanmar: a resource boom but a development bust?

Jared Bissinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Based on data for actual and approved Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from 1989-2011, this paper explores the major trends in FDI in Myanmar, focusing on changes over time in the source and sector of investment. It argues that over the last decade Myanmar's inward FDI has become heavily concentrated in the extractive and power sectors, while investment in manufacturing, services and other secondary and tertiary sectors has been almost non-existent. This is mostly the result of a poor investment climate, including import and export regulations, a weak judicial system, currency controls and weak property rights. The paper shows that China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Thailand have been the main investors in Myanmar, while Singapore, India and Western countries invested little in the 2000s. This divergence is driven partly by the differing investment patterns of the source countries, yet also reflects commercial and geopolitical realities, sanctions and concerns over energy security. The paper then examines whether and how FDI can lead to economic development in Myanmar, and closes by discussing the importance of recent political and economic reforms for rebalancing Myanmar's FDI.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-52
Number of pages30
JournalContemporary Southeast Asia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • China/India competition
  • Economic development
  • Foreign Direct Investment
  • Myanmar


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