World Bank Says Myanmar Economy Too Chaotic to Offer GDP Forecast

By Nora Aung 13 June 2022

The economy of Myanmar has contracted so sharply since the military coup on Feb. 1, 2021 that the World Bank has declined to issue growth forecasts for the country beyond fiscal 2021.

“Forecast[s] for Myanmar beyond 2021 are excluded because of a high degree of uncertainty,” the World Bank stated in its Global Economic Prospects report released on June 7.

Myanmar’s economy shrank by 18 percent in FY2021, it said.

Myanmar is the only country in the East Asia and Pacific region for which the World Bank did not issue Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth forecasts for the coming years. The country posted economic growth of 6.8% in 2019 and 3.2% in 2020 but the figure stood at -18% in 2021.

Since last year’s military takeover, Myanmar’s economy has been in a downward spiral, with major international investors fleeing the country, banks barely functioning and inflation rising amid daily clashes between regime troops and anti-junta forces across the country. The junta has aggravated the situation by imposing foreign currency and trade regulations, wreaking havoc on import and export markets and sparking fuel shortages, even in the big commercial centers.

“Near-term outlook remains fragile owing to sharply higher input prices, recurring electricity outages, escalating conflict, and the recent introduction of trade and foreign exchange restrictions,” the World Bank said.

Regime spokesperson Major General Zaw Min Tun has attempted to put a positive spin on things, announcing that about US$3.98 billion of foreign direct investment (FDI) entered Myanmar from Feb. 1, 2021 through end-May 2022. The electricity sector received the most FDI with $3.1 billion and created 48,877 jobs, he said at a press conference on June 3.

However, the International Labor Organization said on Jan. 28 that Myanmar lost about 1.6 million jobs in 2021 due to the combined effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and military coup.

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