A lib­er­tar­ian dream coun­try?

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS - Robert Walsh

Amer­i­can business is by and large stay­ing out of Myan­mar for var­i­ous rea­sons, usu­ally cit­ing po­lit­i­cal uncer­tain­ties prior to the 2015 elec­tions, the con­tin­u­ing sanc­tions regime that im­poses re­stric­tions on who they can work with lo­cally, or the ret­i­cence of Amer­i­can banks to deal with Myan­mar counter-par­ties.

Oth­ers point to the fact that the in­fra­struc­ture is to­tally lack­ing, in terms of all that is wanted to make and ex­port things peo­ple want to buy.

Another valid crit­i­cism is made of the Myan­mar gov­ern­ment, which is ac­tu­ally quite small and in­ef­fi­cient; the crit­ics point out that it is hard to get any­thing done in Naypyi­daw.

What Amer­i­can business is here so far is usu­ally chan­neled through an ex­ist­ing South­east Asian sub­sidiary, which is a valid risk-mit­i­gat­ing mea­sure. Other busi­nesses like GE and Chevron are here main­tain­ing a small foot­print, cer­tainly no larger than what is ab­so­lutely needed to sell big-ticket items or ex­tract fos­sil fu­els.

Chevy/GM and Ford are sell­ing cars through lo­cal deal­ers, AA Med­i­cal and RMA Groups, re­spec­tively, so risks are shifted to lo­cal part­ners.

The irony is that the ma­jor hur­dles in do­ing business in Myan­mar are ex­actly what big cor­po­ra­tions rail­ing against big gov­ern­ment in the US are look­ing for.

Want low taxes and small gov­ern­ment? Myan­mar's got it. The gov­ern­ment is so small and in­ef­fi­cient that what taxes your company may owe are un­likely to ever be col­lected in full.

Want a gov­ern­ment that is re­spon-

‘The irony is that the ma­jor hur­dles in do­ing business in Myan­mar are ex­actly what big cor­po­ra­tions rail­ing against big gov­ern­ment in the US are look­ing for’

- Robert Walsh

sive to in­dus­try in­put on leg­is­la­tion? Myan­mar has that too, and at prob­a­bly a frac­tion of the cost of in­flu­enc­ing leg­is­la­tion in the US. Myan­mar rule-mak­ers and en­forcers will prob­a­bly work for US cor­po­ra­tions at rates way be­low what their fat and greedy Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts de­mand as their due.

Tired of your cor­po­rate taxes pay­ing for en­ti­tle­ment pro­grams for the poor and dis­ad­van­taged? Myan­mar is truly your home-away-from-home. Not only is pub­lic spend­ing on med­i­cal and ed­u­ca­tion at next-to-noth­ing lev­els, any gap or short­fall in th­ese ser­vices only rep­re­sents yet another op­por­tu­nity for Amer­i­can com­pa­nies to sup­ply what is needed through free mar­ket ini­tia­tives.

Do you hate that Pres­i­dent Obama told you “You didn't build this!”? Once again, there are few, if any pub­lic goods here. Want ed­u­cated work­ers? Then you get to say that you ed­u­cated them! Feel like go­ing the ex­tra mile to be able to say that you did in­deed build this? Good, be­cause you'll get to build the road to drive that ex­tra mile, that is, if you want to move goods in and out of your fac­tory. Ad­di­tion­ally, you'll get to build what­ever it takes to pro­vide elec­tri­cal power, raw wa­ter, and waste treat­ment for your new fac­tory.

Think of it what you may, Myan­mar is just what Tea Party Repub­li­cans and their cor­po­rate spon­sors are look­ing for in terms of reg­u­lat­ing gov­ern­ment out of ef­fec­tive ex­is­tence.

Any true free-mar­ket cap­i­tal­ist, schooled in the Wash­ing­ton Con­sen­sus and ad­vo­cat­ing for pri­va­ti­za­tion of ev­ery con­ceiv­able func­tion of gov­ern­ment, would only see Myan­mar for the op­por­tu­nity that it is: un­formed clay, just wait­ing for the master's hand. Robert Walsh is man­ag­ing part­ner of S&S Project Man­age­ment, a Yan­gon based business con­sul­tancy.

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