Business economics and reform in Myanmar

Last Friday 27 November, UNSW Law hosted a workshop on The Business of Transition in Myanmar, coordinated by UNSW Law’s Dr Melissa Crouch.

The workshop brought together leading scholars from UNSW, and from institutions around Australia and overseas. This timely workshop not only addressed a key issue facing Myanmar, but one that is of direct relevance to Australia: how will the mix of humanitarian aid, economic diplomacy and foreign investment contribute to Myanmar’s reform process?
Dr Crouch noted, “Myanmar offers an opportunity for us to reflect on the importance of aid, economic diplomacy and foreign investment, and the challenges of making this work in the interests of local communities.”

The success of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in the recent 2015 elections in Myanmar will inevitably increase the level of aid, trade and foreign investment. Yet as the NLD prepares to take office in 2016, it will confront a bewildering arrange of economic and social issues – from the legacy of ill-advised special economic zones, to serious issues in enforcing labour standards, the challenge of addressing land rights, and a waiting list of potential business laws on the legislative agenda.

The workshop considered the transformative potential of social enterprises, steps forward in a national minimum wage, the challenges of secured lending, and the innovative strategies of civil society organisations as they strive to make the reform process work for local communities. 

Following the workshop, Dr Crouch confirmed, “An edited volume to be published from the workshop papers will inform the contemporary political and economic reform process, and identify broader lessons that can be learnt from the case of Myanmar.”  

This article first appeared in UNSW Law news December 2015