Myanmar to develop "mini Singapore" on west coast

Featured South East Asia - March 19th, 2013
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Myanmar’s reformist government has unveiled an ambitious plan to develop a “mini Singapore” on its under-developed west coast, hoping to follow in the city-state’s steps towards economic success.

The massive project includes a vast special economic zone, a commercial seaport, a power plant, an international airport, a highway and a railway linking the seaside town of Kyaukpyu with south west China, reports the Financial Times.

The plant could create about 250,000 jobs in the impoverished region, where electricity and running water are severely limited. The project could also revive the region’s almost non-existent local industry.

But the plan’s success will not only depend on investor interest but also on avoiding mistakes in the past – such as a lack of government consultation with local people, says U Myint Thein, deputy labour minister and head of the government’s new Kyaukpyu special economic zone agency.

“We must take an inclusive approach,” he told the Financial Times.

Mr. Myint Thein also lauded Kyaukpyu’s strategic location and access to resources, saying investors “will come, because the opportunities are so good – this will revolutionize trade and boost both Myanmar and the regional economy.”

Foreign investments have poured into the once-isolated nation as firms from overseas race to tap the country’s untouched resources.