Last updated: October 2015

Beginning in 2011, Myanmar launched fundamental political and economic reforms aimed at increasing openness, empowerment, and inclusion. The past years have seen a dramatic increase of political and civil liberties and a significant reduction in armed conflict. At the same time, new tensions and challenges have emerged, including outbreaks of violence in minority ethnic areas. 

Despite such setbacks, there are opportunities to further deepen the reforms, including in the 2015 parliamentary elections and efforts to reach the nationwide ceasefire agreement with key ethnic armed groups. These transitions have the potential to create opportunity and shared prosperity for the people of Myanmar and for the country to resume its place as one of the most dynamic economies in Asia.

As the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia, Myanmar has one of the lowest population densities in the region, with fertile lands, significant untapped agricultural potential, and a rich endowment of natural resources. Its geographic location at the intersection of China and India, two of the world’s most dynamic economies, makes it well positioned to resume its traditional role as a regional trading hub and a key supplier of minerals, natural gas, and agricultural produce.

Myanmar’s economy grew at 8.5 percent in real terms in 2014/15 but growth is projected to moderate to 6.5 percent in 2015/16 due to floods and slowing investments. Economic reforms have supported consumer and investor confidence despite ongoing business environment and socio-political challenges. Rapidly rising demand for investment-related imports has widened the current account deficit. This together with the general strengthening of the US Dollar has put pressure on Myanmar’s exchange rate. Rapid growth in credit to the private sector has fueled monetary expansion. Inflation is estimated to have reached over 10 percent in the year to July. Medium-term economic growth prospects remain strong assuming continued progress on reforms.

Poverty in Myanmar is disproportionately concentrated in rural areas, where poor people are relying on agricultural and casual employment for their living. There are also a substantial number of households living near the poverty line who are considered to be vulnerable to poverty; the welfare of these households is likely to be sensitive to economy-wide shocks. Since the majority of the poor are engaged in subsistence agriculture, the consumption patterns of these households may be shielded from recent inflationary pressures but the urban poor are likely to be highly affected by recent bouts of food price inflation.

Among ASEAN countries, Myanmar has the lowest life expectancy and the second-highest rate of infant and child mortality. Less than one-third of the population has access to the electricity grid, road density remains low, at 219.8 kilometers per 1,000 square kilometers of land area, and ICT connections are still underdeveloped, with mobile phone and internet penetration rates at 20% and 10% in 2014, respectively. With two private telecom operators having started operations in late 2014, there should be significant increase in mobile phone and internet penetrations.

Growth has accelerated since the transition, buoyed by improved macroeconomic management, increased gas production and exports, and stronger performance in non-gas sectors as the economy opened up.

Last updated: October 2015

In 2015, the World Bank Group (WBG) completed its first full country strategy, Country Partnership Framework (CPF), for Myanmar since 1984. This CPF comes at a time of great opportunity for Myanmar. Over the three-year period covered in the CPF, the reforms begun in 2011 have the potential to bear fruit in bringing Myanmar into a new era of peace and prosperity and stronger participation internally and on the international stage.

The CPF outlines how the global knowledge, financing, and convening services of the World Bank Group can support Myanmar and its people in transforming their country, reducing extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. 

The CPF outlines how the global knowledge, financing, and convening services of the World Bank Group can support Myanmar and its people in transforming their country, reducing extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.

The CPF draws on the findings of the Systematic Country Diagnostic carried out by the World Bank Group in 2014, lessons learned from implementation since the WBG re-engagement in 2012, and extensive consultations with a wide range of stakeholders conducted in 2014.

The CPF focuses on three areas:

Reducing rural poverty. At least 70 percent of Myanmar’s poor live in rural areas, reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity will entail increasing access to essential services, economic opportunities and markets. The WBG expects to provide support to help increase agricultural incomes and productivity, rural electrification, community-driven investments in local infrastructure and services, improve Ayeyarwaddy River navigation and flood control, and reduce vulnerability to shocks.

Investing in people and effective institutions for people. Successful empowerment and inclusion will depend on citizens who are able to make a better future for themselves and on transparent institutions that allow people to do so. The WBG expects to provide targeted support to help Myanmar approach universal access to and improve the quality of essential social services, especially health and education and, over time, skills development to empower people to participate in a growing economy. The WBG also expects to provide support for state institutions to deliver services effectively, including at the local level. This support is expected to contribute to improved governance in selected sectors as well as more broadly for the citizens of Myanmar.

Supporting a dynamic private sector to create jobs. Reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity will entail diversification beyond extractive-based industries to inclusive growth that creates jobs. Increased openness and integration will result in higher growth as labor reallocates to more productive sectors and trade drives innovation and productivity. The WBG will seek to foster inclusive growth and a vibrant private sector that will create jobs through investments and support for markets, trade and modern financial institutions.

The CPF covers a period of three years, coinciding with the IDA 17 period. It will include a performance and learning review, planned for late FY16, to allow for mid-course adjustments based on changes in country context, a review of lessons learned, and the availability of new data.

The WBG is contributing to informed debate and decision-making on development policy within a rapidly changing Myanmar by periodically bringing most recent economic data and analysis on development issues to government policy makers, think tanks, civil society and citizens. The WBG is also undertaking analytical and diagnostic works on agricultural and energy sector, poverty assessment and trade.

Since 2013, the WBG has released a number of reports, including its first Myanmar Economic Monitor which looks at macroeconomic developments and reforms implementation, the Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability Assessment which provides a snapshot of the condition of Myanmar's public expenditure, procurement and financial accountability systems, and the Investment Climate Assessment which reviews the main bottlenecks to private investment and job creation in Myanmar.

IFC, the WBG’s member exclusively focused on private sector development, invests in companies and advises government on business reforms to support the private sector and to create jobs. IFC provides financing and capacity building to local banks and financial institutions including Myanmar Oriental Bank and Yoma Bank so that they can meet small and medium enterprises’ needs, such as trade finance, loans, and microfinance. IFC’s first investment in the country was a US$2 million loan to set up ACLEDA MFI Myanmar Co. to help address the significant demand for financing from small enterprises and people. Operating from early 2013, the new microfinance institution is expected to provide loans to more than 200,000 people – mostly micro and small businesses run by women – by 2020. In addition, IFC is also helping the Central Bank of Myanmar improve its financial infrastructure. This will help banks serve their clients better, with diversified products and services.

Last updated: October 2015

The WBG is supporting Myanmar’s National Community-Driven Development Project (NCDDP). The project is empowering villagers to choose, plan, build, and monitor small infrastructure projects that communities need most, such as bridges, roads, health clinics, and schools. Since 2013, the NCDDP financed over 1,800 sub-projects in two community cycles, benefiting some 850,000 people in nine townships. An additional financing from the IDA – together with the Government of Italy and the Government of Japan, the Government of Myanmar – plans to scale up the program to improve access to basic services and essential infrastructure for an estimated 7 million people across over 60 townships.

In August 2015, the government, the World Bank, and development partners completed the second CDD project multi-stakeholder review. For the second year, this event brought together senior Myanmar government officials, local township authorities, representatives from non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, and beneficiary communities to review implementation and identify opportunities for improvement.

The Ministry of Education’s nationwide school grants program benefited all of the approximately 8.6 million students in public schools in school year 2014-15. The first year evaluation of the program showed that schools improved their planning and budgeting and worked with communities to make decisions.  Over 39,000 students received cash payments under the Ministry of Education’s stipends program in school year 2014-15 and this number is expected to double in school year 2015-16.  The first year evaluation showed that families with children at risk of dropping out of school were effectively identified and targeted with cash support.  In addition to providing direct support to schools and families, Ministry of Education is demonstrating that it can monitor and evaluate its programs and use findings and lessons to improve its service delivery from year-to-year. 


Myanmar: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments