MOVING FORWARD: WHAT THE NEW FOREIGN BANK LICENSES MEAN FOR MYANMAR AND FOREIGN INVESTORSwotofo profile 25mm rdta
OCTOBER 7TH, 2014
This article was authored by Inle Advisory Group’s Fall semester intern, Aaron Filous
The Myanmar government on October 1 took another major step toward its reforms efforts through soliciting and awarding the much-anticipated first bank licenses to eight foreign banks. This not only represents further progress on reform, but also acts as a geopolitical and economic game-changer that will bring significant benefits to both the Myanmar government and its people. In issuing these licenses, Myanmar has moved toward building a modern financial sector that will eventually empower the free flow of capital, create an infrastructure to further its development, expand and enhance local industries, skills and technology, and establish an environment that will attract cautious foreign investors.
SANCTIONS MAKE MYANMAR BUSINESS DIFFICULT, NOT IMPOSSIBLE
AUGUST 19TH, 2014
This article was published in the Wall Street Journal.
Myanmar’s 2011 shift to a civilian government, after decades of military dictatorship, shocked observers and paved the way for dizzying changes in the country’s economy. Companies are now eying opportunities in Myanmar, as a rapid easing in U.S. sanctions is making business in the country feasible for the first time in years. Still, while the policy shift means U.S. companies can now make new investments inside Myanmar, more than a hundred potential partners remain on the sanctions blacklist because of ties to the country’s military, complicating any deals.
BLOCKING BY NUMBERS – OFAC REVISES ITS 50 PERCENT RULE
AUGUST 18TH, 2014
Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) last week revised and reissued its Guidance on Entities Owned by Persons Whose Property and Interests in Property are Blocked, also commonly known as the “50 Percent Rule.” The 50 Percent Rule, first published in 2008, explains that any entities 50 percent or more owned by an individual or entity on OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list (SDN list) are automatically blocked by operation of law, regardless of whether the so owned entities themselves are listed. The revised guidance expands upon the original by setting out a new interpretation now applying this bar to entities owned 50 percent or more in the aggregate by one or more blocked persons – e.g., “if Blocked Person X owns 25 percent of Entity A, and Blocked Person Y owns another 25 percent of Entity A, Entity A is considered to be blocked…. because Entity A is owned 50 percent or more in the aggregate by one or more blocked persons.”
ENERGY RUSH: MYANMAR’S REFORMS FUEL HOPES OF BURMESE BOOM
JULY 24TH, 2014
This article was published in Foreign Policy
Energy executives around the globe rubbed their hands anticipating a new gold rush in Myanmar when that formerly isolated country began opening up in 2011. They’re still eagerly waiting, but the fledgling democracy finally seems ready for them.
GAP GAMBLES ON MYANMAR
JULY 14TH, 2014
This article was published in Foreign Policy
Gap Inc. began considering operating in Myanmar almost a year after the United States and the European Union formally eased sanctions on the former pariah state; it took another year of preparation before the company became the first U.S. retailer to make clothes in the country formerly known as Burma. In June, Gap announced it will be putting “Made in Myanmar” jackets and vests on its shelves later this summer.
THAI COUP: LESSONS FOR MYANMAR
MAY 30TH, 2014
This article was featured in The Huffington Post
The recent coup in Southeast Asia’s second largest economy has ramifications beyond Thailand. The political unraveling is not happening in a vacuum, and its evolution and global reactions to it could present an unfortunate model for emerging democracies in the region, particularly Myanmar. All Myanmar players–the government, political opposition, civil society, and the military–almost certainly are watching the events unfolding in Thailand closely, potentially seeing their future, or hopefully, the opposite of it. The next few years will be a critical test for Myanmar’s political development to determine whether the country is progressing toward a representative democracy or susceptible to backsliding similar to the situation in Thailand.
THIS IS WHERE THE REAL WORK IN MYANMAR BEGINS
APRIL 22ND, 2014
This article was featured in The Huffington Post.
The trajectory of Myanmar’s transition from authoritarian rule toward democratization appears to be stalling. Recent violence in Rakhine State and ominous statements from high levels of the government and military on religious and political issues are legitimate concerns, however, it is too soon to deem this the end of a fledgling democratic transition. Myanmar is not returning to its former despotic ways but it is at a crossroads in addressing its most difficult and deeply entrenched issue: national reconciliation. Setbacks should be expected in any developing democracy and accordingly, the global community must not prematurely proclaim that all is lost and abandon the economic and political progress made thus far. Rather, along with the government, political opposition, and civil society, it should build on those advances and take advantage of newfound openness to aid, assistance, and capacity building programs to prevent backsliding and instability.
UKRAINE: IMPACT OF NEW U.S. SANCTIONS ON INVESTOR ENGAGEMENT
MARCH 25TH, 2014
In a two week span, President Barack Obama issued three Executive orders (E.O.s) with respect to the situation in Crimea and Ukraine. Other Western nations, including the European Union and Canada, have also imposed travel bans and asset freezes targeting those responsible for the violence in Ukraine. The scope and rapid pace of these U.S. actions brings businesses in these markets into uncharted territory, and will require them to reshape their business engagement and significantly enhance their due diligence efforts.
MYANMAR AND CSR: CREATING AND IMPLEMENTING SUCCESSFUL STRATEGY
FEBRUARY 24TH, 2014
Co-authored by Erin Murphy, Inle Advisory Group and Vicky Bowman, Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business
Investors seeking to enter Myanmar are being encouraged to incorporate corporate social responsibility (CSR) into their business model. The push comes not just from Western governments and local and international NGOs, but from the Myanmar government itself. President Thein Sein has said that his government ‘is taking steps to build investor confidence and promote responsible investment in Myanmar’. The government has come to this realization due to an increasingly vocal civil society and growing widespread public opposition to controversial and non-transparent investments that were the hallmark of the previous regime, such as the Myitsone dam and the Letpadaung copper mine. It is seeking to address those concerns and strike a new tone for foreign investment in the country.
2014 A WATERSHED YEAR: RESOLUTIONS FOR FOREIGN INVESTORS
Myanmar is about to wrap up a very busy 2013 that included several high-profile tenders, a frenetic pace to institute legislative and executive action to continue the reform process, the 27th annual Southeast Asia Games, and preparation for the ASEAN chairmanship. Despite positive momentum and ongoing foreign investor interest, all but the major international corporations, such as Visa, Coca Cola, Unilever, and BAT have gone beyond establishing a representative office.