In the early 2010s, Myanmar has reacquainted itself with the rest of the global economy after emerging from six decades of economic and political isolation. The global economy today is vastly different – trade barriers have been significantly reduced, replaced by non-tariff measures which are vaguer in their definitions and applications. Improved connectivity, technology, and transport infrastructure have enabled fragmentation in the production process, allowing developing countries like Myanmar to strategically position itself as part of these value chains.

As Myanmar races to undertake further liberalization of its economy to create a more business-friendly environment, there is an urgent need for evidence-based policymaking to help navigate through the global economy. Encouraged by an influx of foreign direct investments and donor funding, Myanmar needs to ensure that the benefits from these investments and funding reach the people of Myanmar. More importantly, policies must be in place to address some of the anticipated negative socioeconomic impacts from Myanmar’s deeper integration into the global economy.

CESD’s work have guided the relevant ministries on the growing economy’s reintegration into the global value chains. Our focus on the garment sector and agricultural sector – two of the main sources of economic activities in the country – aims to strengthen Myanmar’s position as a production hub in these sectors. Value chain development remains at the heart of our research work in these key sectors – the organization has worked on projects with IFPRI, IFAD, the Government of Netherlands, and collaborates closely with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation on strengthening the value chains for pulses and beans and maize.

The development of agricultural sector is a critical area of focus for the broader rural development strategy in Myanmar. To better address horizontal inequality between rural/urban areas, CESD has undertaken several studies tackling barriers and challenges faced by small-scale farmers in rural Myanmar. Our work in this area is important, and will continue to contribute to a more economically inclusive and equal Myanmar.

Myanmar is endowed with rich natural resources in the coastal waters, with a wide range of fishes. In order to further tap into the growth potential of Myanmar’s aquaculture, CESD has also been working in close cooperation with the Department of Fisheries to develop the National Aquaculture Development Plan – a strategic, action-oriented and forward-looking document that aims to foster sustainable development of the aquaculture sector in Myanmar. Since 2018, the organization has been organizing a series of state and regional aquaculture-sector consultations for the development of the NADP, which was published in March 2020.