After decades of isolation, the Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar is thundering ahead with the fastest growing economies in Asia in 2016.
The Aung San Suu Kyi– led National League for Democracy came to power in Myanmar during the historic general election of November 2015, and the country is embracing change. Myanmar is undergoing a rapid transition and roaring ahead with the fasting growing economies in Asia.
Despite the strong growth, Myanmar is facing significant economic challenges. Like all countries in Asia, it is affected by moderating growth in the PRC. But that impact is being lessened by closer economic relations with its other neighbors, India and Thailand, according to the Asian Development Outlook 2016 report.
July–August 2015, devastating cyclone and intense monsoonal rains did little to slow down the rest of the booming economy, with garment exports increasing by 28 percent to $2 billion. Natural gas exports slightly increased as well. Tourism was also a major driver of the economy with 4.7 million arrivals in 2015 with about 70% of visitors entering overland from neighboring countries. Spending by tourists rose by 19% to $2.1 billion in 2015.
It is now possible for citizens of 100 countries to apply online for a tourist e-visa via Myanmar’s Ministry of Immigration and Population website (evisa.moip. gov.mm). Myanmar is no longer the cheap destination it once was, so make sure you adjust your budget accordingly. In particular, prices for even basic accommodation have risen dramatically.
Currency and cash
Myanmar is trying to encourage both locals and visitors to use the local currency – kyat – rather than US dollars, which was the preferred currency until 2012. As of the end of November 2015, only banks and official moneychangers were able to change dollars, although how rigidly that will be enforced remains to be seen.
Despite that, and the presence of ATMs,if you are a tourist it’s still worth bringing some US dollars with you, as they can be useful if you’re stranded without access to an ATM. Also the tourists have to be certain about US bills are immaculate and printed not earlier than 2006, or one might not be able to exchange them. It’s also easy to change Thai baht in Yangon and Mandalay.
Despite severe flooding, Myanmar’s economy continued to perform well in the closing fiscal year. According to the Asian Development Bank outlook 2016 “Growth is forecast to accelerate during 2016 on recovery in agriculture and increases in foreign direct investment. Among the near-term challenges facing the incoming government are high inflation and wide fiscal and external deficits. Upgrading the transport system is one of many longer-term challenges.”
Myanmar is the world’s fastestgrowing economy, according to the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook. The country’s GDP is projected to grow by 8.6% this year The country has strong potential for broad economic expansion, possessing abundant natural resources, a strategic location at the crossroads of Asia, a young population, and a sizable market with wide-ranging investment opportunities.