Border Industry in Myanmar: Turning the Periphery into the Center of Growth
by KUDO Toshihiro
The Myanmar economy has not been deeply integrated into East Asia’s production and distribution networks, despite its location advantages and notably abundant, reasonably well-educated, cheap labor force. Underdeveloped infrastructure, logistics in particular, and an unfavorable business and investment environment hinder it from participating in such networks in East Asia. Service link costs, for connecting production sites in Myanmar and other remote fragmented production blocks or markets, have not fallen sufficiently low to enable firms, including multi-national corporations to reduce total costs, and so the Myanmar economy has failed to attract foreign direct investments.
Border industry offers a solution. The Myanmar economy can be connected to the regional and global economy through its borders with neighboring countries, Thailand in particular, which already have logistic hubs such as deep-sea ports, airports and trunk roads. This paper examines the source of competitiveness of border industry by considering an example of the garment industry located in the Myanmar-Thai border area. Based on such analysis, we recognize the prospects of border industry and propose some policy measures to promote this on Myanmar soil.
Keywords: Myanmar (Burma), Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), regional cooperation, border industry, cross-border trade, migrant workers, logistics, center-periphery
JEL classification: F15, F22, J31, L67
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