Initiative for ASEAN Integration

FDI Promotion Strategies and Enabling Private Sector Development

Course Dates: 25 – 29 April 2016

It was my first time in Yangon, Myanmar to lead this course for 24 delegates who came from various ministries and departments and who worked on FDI promotion strategies and in private sector development. This series was part of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration. It was held at the Singapore Myanmar Vocational Training Institute in the Tamwe Township. I was excited to be there especially as Myanmar is going through a change and I wanted to be part of it.


Private sector development is an important component of economic transformation which can bring benefits for inclusive growth. The Singapore experience in economic modelling, policy development, its application and measurements is the essential ingredient that explains the largely successful growth that Singapore enjoys since its independence in 1965. Delegates were given an opportunity to understand several aspects of this process and to explore ways where economic policy changes could bring similar benefits in Myanmar. Clearly the Singapore experience is an excellent model that explains the processes for such economic transformation under an enabling framework managed effectively by the Whole of Government (WoG) approach.

The delegates were eager to understand the processes involved in developing the framework for private sector growth. Myanmar is transforming fast and they were keen to learn as much as they could from the Singapore experience. Private sector growth up to recently was a sporadic matter in Myanmar with investment targeted at sectors with little or no coordination amongst these. The delegates are fully aware that their country is blessed with commodities with a potential for further developing the manufacturing sector. Services too can play an important and crucial role in complementing the approach to a diversified economy.


What appeared to be challenging was the concept of the Whole of Government approach. It will be only fair to explain that this is a new approach that sees change in the political economy with an accompanying change in the structure of the economy. Delegates debated over several approaches to the WoG in a particular case when they were asked to consider how foreign direct investment could assist their country. They were well able to place key stakeholders as essential to change for the development of the pharmaceutical industry. As this industry is well established for traditional medicine, identifying key players with the accompanying need for further skills development to benefit from traditional knowledge was very interesting and satisfying for them. Several delegates told me later that they enjoyed this particular process and hoped to see a transformation in this sector as it has happened in the Singapore economy.


Developing clusters and value chains were two exciting concepts for them. Many were keen to learn more about these processes and enjoyed developing their own cluster for the textile and apparel industry. They were also encouraged to consider public private partnerships when attempting to restructure industries.

The delegates worked on a project activity to enhance the tourism industry. They felt their economy could be anchored on it due to its extended and large value chain potential. The results were interesting as they came up with a road map and value chain for the development of tourism, including eco-tourism. They were also able to apply the WoG concept successfully in this activity.


It was refreshing for me to learn of the challenges in the economy from these delegates; what was appealing was their desire to effect change and to ensure that benefits were available for all.

I was very privileged as, at the end of the course, several delegates organised a tour of the city. I was given a personal tour of City Hall, the development of river side activities, the open wet market and other sites in Yangon. The Shwe Dagon Pagoda, however, takes first prize. This is one magnificent monument to visit when in Yangon.

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