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Decades of isolationist military rule left Myanmar poor, underperforming economically, and riven by the suppression of ethnic groups. A new Constitution in 2008 paved the way for a managed political and economic reform. In 2011, a gradual liberalization began under a transitional military government, setting in motion what has often been described as a “triple transition”: from military to civilian rule, from a planned to a more market-based economy, and from widespread internal conflict to durable peace.

The first democratic elections, in 2015, marked critical turning points for Myanmar, generating a wave of optimism. Unification of exchange rates, initial liberalization of product and factor markets, integration into regional markets, and modernization of economic and financial institutions and systems resulted in rapid economic growth (above 7 percent per year) and measurable improvements in social welfare after 2011. Poverty almost halved, falling from 48 percent to 25 percent between 2005 and 2017.

On February 1, 2021, the military assumed power, declaring a state of emergency. The combined effects of the military takeover, COVID-19, internal conflict and global disruptions have deepened Myanmar’s economic and humanitarian crisis. Compared to March 2020 poverty is estimated to have doubled. With about 40 percent of the population living below the national poverty line in 2022, nearly a decade of progress on poverty reduction has been undone.

The World Bank’s July 2022 Myanmar Economic Monitor projects an economic growth of 3 percent in the year ended September 2022, following an 18 percent contraction last year, with firm downside risks.

The absence of a substantial rebound in economic growth - with GDP in 2022 estimated to still be around 13 percent lower than in 2019 - continues to test the resilience of the Myanmar people. Food insecurity is rising, and households are increasingly resorting to negative coping mechanisms – including reducing consumption and the sale of assets – in the face of insecurity.

Beyond 2022 the outlook remains weak and subject to substantial risks. Domestic prices for food, fuel, and other imported inputs are likely to remain elevated over the short to medium term, constraining both production and consumption. As a result, a return to pre-pandemic levels of economic activity is unlikely in the near term, in sharp contrast to the rest of the East Asia and Pacific region.

Recent economic policy shifts are likely to have longer-term effects: inhibiting potential growth, worsening macroeconomic instability, and impairing the efficient allocation of resources. Lessons from Myanmar’s economic history suggest that to the extent that these trends continue, investor confidence and the business environment will weaken further, constraining Myanmar’s growth potential over the longer-term.


Updated as of September 2022



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

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments
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Yangon Office
Level 21, Sule Square, 221, Sule Pagoda Road, Kyauktada Township, Yangon 11182, Myanmar
+95 1 925 5030
Washington DC
1818 H Street NW, Washington DC 20433
+1 202-473-4709