Opening up of Myanmar spurs expat gold rush

Published:  23 May at 6 PM
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Following the recent relaxation of sanctions seen after the decline of decades of junta rule in Myanmar, the country is the unwitting target of large numbers of investors, would-be entrepreneurs and other expat classes.

Many are arriving for the possibility of an economic boom, and others are drawn by a wish to be part of the rebuilding of the shattered nation and its impoverished communities. At present, Yangon and its bars, restaurants and hotels are the main beneficiaries of the gold rush and are busier now than in many previous decades.

Recent graduates from Western universities are arriving in droves, all with ideas of finding the perfect job or starting the perfect business, and Myanmar citizens are giving up their positions in the West and returning home. Even retirees in neighbouring Thailand are looking at the possibility of fresh fields and pastures new, hopefully with less stringent visa rules and a chance to work.

Goodwill towards the re-emerging nation is the common trait amongst new arrivals, many of whom state their commitment to helping its people get back on their feet. A major draw is the leader of the struggle for freedom, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is seen as the potential saviour of her nation.

Another attraction common to most of the expat arrivals is its comparative eco-friendliness, achieved by default but rare in this polluted world. Myanmar’s people are welcoming incomers, with many saying that they can learn from the best of the West and be more effective in rebuilding their country.

It remains to be seen whether the country’s underground mineral and other riches are plundered by the West in search of ever more profits, or whether a middle ground can be found with equal benefits for all. Expats will continue arriving, and it’s to be hoped that they all have a positive effect.
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