Remarks on Foreign Investment in Burma

W. Patrick Murphy
Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma 
Tokyo, Japan
March 18, 2013

The video below is available with
closed captioning on YouTube.

I would first say that there is actually a flow of investment interest that's not yet translating into concrete investment. Why? Because investment climate there is quite difficult. This has been an economy that's been closed to the international community for decades. It's also been mismanaged and controlled by just a handful of influential families. So the country has a long way to go to improve the investment climate. That said, we would like for an investment to help the process, it's much needed.

Burma has fallen behind the rest of the world and indeed even its poorest neighbors and almost every indicator possible. Now that investment possibilities are open, however, we are trying to encourage the right kind of investment, responsible investment that addresses the challenges associated with corruption, lack of transparency, a very challenging land rights situation, worker rights, and a whole panoply of human rights challenges. For that reason, we are asking U.S. business to report and be transparent about the investments they intend to make, with whom they are making them.

The Burmese people deserve to know where the investment is coming from where it's going. It's a basic right of theirs that's been denied for decades. With those facts, Burmese stakeholders themselves can play a part in the process as the economy tries to mend and modernize.