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Fundamental Analysis & Analyst Recommendations - EM Frontier Myanmar Basket
Thematic Investments: Emerging Markets
Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia
* After suffering decades under military regime, with her citizens having to cope with catastrophic, painful and whimsical change, Myanmar is now back on the world map and is finally embarking on the road to democracy. Former military junta leader General Than Shwe’s retirement plan has shifted senior military leaders into politics and replaced them in the army with their subordinates, transferring power from the military to the President, his ministers and Parliament. This transfer of power leads many old school Myanmar watcheers to believe that the least likely future outcome is a return to a military junta. The appointment of the reformist, clean President Thein Sein has been a perfect catalyst for change. President Thein Sein has succeeded in winning over political opponents and political leader and Nobel Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi has embraced the reforms under way, stating her trust in him while her political party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), has now registered for her to run for Parliament in April as a MP.
* The holding of acceptable by-elections, the further release of political prisoners and progress towards ending the war with ethnic rebels means a potential end to sanctions is on the horizon. After Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in late 2010, last year Myanmar held its first national election in more than two decades. In November 2011, Hillary Clinton became the first US Secretary of state to visit Myanmar in more than 50 years and last month, Norway became the first European country to lift trade, investment and tourism sanctions on Myanmar when US senators McCain, Lieberman and McConnell were visiting as well. With high profile visits from US and European senior statesmen, the end of global sanctions may quickly follow and the task of transitioning Myanmar into a market based economy may soon begin in earnest.
* Simple geography anchors Myanmar’s importance as it sits between China and India which creates a massive crossroads between the two powerful emerging nations where 60% of global growth exists this year. Myanmar’s land mass of 676,578 sq km is about the size of France, which is twice the size of Vietnam and 30% larger than Thailand. She also has a coastline of 1,900 km which provides the country access to both the Bay of Bengal and the Adaman Sea. While the country has diverse and massive natural resources, Myanmar’s other important strength is her people; a population of around 60 million people who have an adult literacy rate at about 90% with the median age below 30 years. If you draw a 700-mile radius around Mandalay, Myanmar’s second largest city, you encompass a population of 700 million people which is about 10% of the world’s population. With her common borders among five countries