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23 February 2021
Myanmar’s digital economy has been ‘thrown off a cliff’
Digital media consumptionFacebookMyanmar
Draconian laws introduced by the new junta running Myanmar are threatening to derail a decade of economic progress and unprecedented levels of foreign investment, business groups warn.
The coup blocked social media platforms, including Facebook, and shut down mobile networks.
Planned cybersecurity laws would give the junta wide-ranging controls over online content. One owner of a service provider said the country’s digital economy, which received a huge boost as a result of the pandemic, had been “thrown off a cliff”.
What are businesses doing?
Many are reviewing their activities in the country, fearful of the reputational damage of being associated with a regime that ousted an elected government.
Nikkei Asia lists Japanese brewer Kirin Holdings pulling out of a joint venture, Singaporean tycoon Lim Kaling withdrawing from a joint tobacco venture with the country’s main cigarette maker, and Thai property developer Amata halting work on a major industrial complex in the capital, Yangon.
However, some businesses believe military rule may be more business-friendly than the ousted civilian government and, at least, faster at decision making, thereby opening up possible new opportunities.
“A decade ago, expectations generated by Myanmar's opening to the world were sky-high. Today's assessments will be far more realistic and conservative. From now it will be much harder, if not impossible, to attract first-class international investors” – Luc de Waegh, founder of business consultants West Indochina.