‘A historic tipping point for Myanmar’

Thein Sein, president of Myanmar. Photo by: Thai Government / CC BY

With the help of Japan, Myanmar is now cleared of its arrears at the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. This signals the two lenders’ full re-engagement with the Asian state.

Although both banks have already set up offices in Yangon, they could not provide loans to Myanmar unless it had settled its debts.

A bridge financing from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation on Jan. 17 made that possible. Later, the World Bank approved a $440 million credit and ADB agreed to lend $512 million to sustain reform efforts by the Myanmarese government.

“Much work remains to be done. We are committed to helping the government accelerate poverty reduction and build shared prosperity,” Annette Dixon, World Bank country director for Myanmar, said in a Jan. 27 statement. “The bank’s engagement, together with the ADB, the government of Japan and other partners, will help attract investment, spur growth and create jobs.”

The World Bank said it is holding discussions with the government to identify priority development needs.

ADB said Monday, Jan. 28, that it is “focusing first on the building blocks for stability and sustainability.” It noted that its first major loan in nearly 30 years to Myanmar will build on the government’s reforms in the areas of public finance, trade, investment and financial sector development, help develop a strategy to make banking services more widely available, especially in the rural areas, and address gaps in technical and secondary education access.

Following a series of political and economic reforms by the government of President Thein Sein, Western donors have embraced back the once-pariah state, culminating in the first Myanmar Development Cooperation Forum held nearly two weeks ago, where the government and the country’s development partners adopted the Naypyidaw Accord for Effective Development Cooperation.

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About the author

  • Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.