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World Bank Group Opens Office in Myanmar
The World Bank Group opened an office in Myanmar on August 1 to support the Southeast Asian country's reforms, marking an important step in its re-engagement with Myanmar after more than two decades.
IFC Vice President for Asia Pacific Karin Finkelston and World Bank Vice President for East Asia and Pacific Pamela Cox traveled to Yangon for the opening and to meet Myanmar President Thein Sein, cabinet officials, Aung San Suu Kyi, other members of parliament, and other stakeholders.
“The start of our engagement with Myanmar is an exciting chapter in our more than half a century of development work in East Asia and the Pacific,” said Finkelston. “We are committed to helping the people of Myanmar in the reform process and to supporting the private sector to create jobs and opportunities for businesses to grow.”
Charles Schneider has been appointed as IFC’s first Myanmar Resident Representative, while Kanthan Shankar will lead the World Bank team in Myanmar as country manager.
Economic and political reforms started last year and the recent lifting of most international sanctions have led international development institutions to re-engage with Myanmar.
Myanmar is the second-largest country in Southeast Asia with the lowest GDP per capita. IFC has never had a project in Myanmar.
After a joint assessment conducted earlier this year with the World Bank, IFC has identified three broad areas of initial engagement: supporting the development of a functioning banking sector and microfinance industry to help increase access to finance, improving the regulatory framework and business environment, and supporting investment in the infrastructure sector.
Meanwhile, the Bank is preparing to present to its board up to $85 million in grants to benefit men, women and children through community driven development programs.
Many international development institutions halted programs in Myanmar in 1988 after international sanctions were imposed. The lifting of sanctions will open Myanmar to investors seeking opportunities to develop this resource rich nation.
IFC and the World Bank share the same strategy to attract responsible foreign investment, work with domestic stakeholders, and create jobs and opportunities for the people of Myanmar. The World Bank Group’s experience in other countries that have gone through similar transitions will guide our efforts in Myanmar.
The office opening reception was also attended by IFC’s Director for East Asia and Pacific Sérgio Pimenta, ADB Director General for Southeast Asia Kunio Senga, Myanmar Finance Minister U Hla Tun, government officials, and private sector representatives.