Sunday, August 20, 2017

Myanmar seeks to leave Least Developed Country status behind

The new government has followed its predecessor and formed a committee dedicated to ridding Myanmar of its UN designation as a Least Developed Country (LDC), which will require progress on average income and economic vulnerability.

Myanmar will have to raise average earnings if it wants to leave the UN list of Least Developed Countries. Photo: StaffMyanmar will have to raise average earnings if it wants to leave the UN list of Least Developed Countries. Photo: Staff

Myanmar has been on the LDC list since 1987 but is striving to graduate to lower-middle income, said U Maung Maung Win, deputy minister for planning and finance. But there are three criteria the country needs to meet at the next triennial LDC review in 2018, and so far it has only met one, he added.

The three criteria concern gross national income (GNI) per capita, the human asset index (HAI) and the economic vulnerability index, and must all be met at two successive triennial reviews.

Myanmar had a high-enough score on the HAI, which takes into account adult literacy, secondary school enrollment, child mortality and the percentage of the population that is undernourished, during the 2015 review, said U Maung Maung Win, although he noted that data quality in Myanmar could be an issue.

Myanmar’s GNI per capita, however, was $1063 in 2014-15. This was some $200 short of the threshold for lower-middle income status, which is updated for each three-year review.

The country’s score on the economic vulnerability index, meanwhile, was too high. That index measures a country’s “structural vulnerability to exogenous economic and environmental shocks”, according to the UN. Indicators include instability of agricultural production and trade, victims of natural disasters and how much of the population lives in remote areas.

Within ASEAN Cambodia and Laos are also designated LDCs by the UN.

Being designated an LDC makes a country eligible for specific assistance programs including trade support and development loans. But U Maung Maung Win said that because of years spent under economic sanctions previous governments had benefited little from these measures.

The US adjusted its sanctions against Myanmar in May, removing some state-owned entities from the sanctions list.


Translation by Thiri Min Htun