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Myanmar's Economic Relations with China: Can China Support the Myanmar Economy?

Discussion Papers


July 2006


Against the background of closer diplomatic, political and security ties between Myanmar and China since 1988, their economic relations have also grown stronger throughout the 1990s and up to 2005. China is now a major supplier of consumer and capital goods to Myanmar, in particular through border trade. China also provides a large amount of economic cooperation in the areas of infrastructure, energy and state-owned economic enterprises. Nevertheless, Myanmar’s trade with China has failed to have a substantial impact on its broad-based economic and industrial development. China’s economic cooperation apparently supports the present regime, but its effects on the whole economy will be limited with an unfavorable macroeconomic environment and distorted incentives structure. As a conclusion, strengthened economic ties with China will be instrumental in regime survival, but will not be a powerful force affecting the process of economic development in Myanmar.

Keywords: Myanmar (Burma), China, trade, border trade, economic cooperation,energy, oil and gas
JEL classification: F14, P28, Q41

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