Southeast Asia Trilateral Forum in Myanmar

Experts discuss Myanmar’s challenges

In late February, Westerwelle Foundation and The German Marshall Fund of the United States invited more than 50 international experts from politics, business, science and media to its first Southeast Asia Trilateral Forum to Yangon, Myanmar. Together they discussed the challenges Myanmar and the region Southeast Asia are facing. The two-day conference was held under Chatham House Rule.
Myanmar is in a state of dynamic transition – politically and economically. After many years of isolation and the effects of the international sanctions against the country, it is emerging and developing dramatically. Its economy offers enormous opportunities for investment and growth, bolstered by the expansion of cellular networks and the internet. At the same time the country’s future remains uncertain, there are still many challenges to tackle.

For this reason Westerwelle Foundation partnered with the German Marshall Fund to set up a conference together in order to identify opportunities and risks and to discuss these challenges.
Against this background the participants shared their ideas to different topics in eight sessions, such as: “Political and Economic opportunities for cooperation”, “Local Opportunities for Regional Growth”, “Cooperation on Maritime Security”, “Entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets”.

It evolved that the economic growth of Myanmar will have an impact on the entire region Southeast Asia. With its 56 million inhabitants and situated in a geostrategic very opportune region the possibilities for growth are diverse. But this development also holds risks, some experts said. Of crucial importance it will be how its ability to act and the stability of Myanmar’s parliament and government will develop. Also, despite all reasonable optimism, the fact that the country’s economy and infrastructure all still relatively weakly developed should not be underestimated, some participants mentioned.

Nevertheless, all participants could agree that Myanmar’s potential for a long-term positive development outshines any doubts. Especially for young people the country offers many new business opportunities.