For the first time in 25 years, the World Bank is considering sending financial aid to Burma. Following Burma's recent political and financial reforms, sanctions have been repealed against the nation in an effort to bring Burma back into the international community. Following this trend, the World Bank is preparing up to $85 million in grants to give to Burma for community-driven development programs. According to World Bank group president Jim Yong Kim, these grants are intended to build confidence in Burma's reform process, help in the World Bank's mission of eradicating poverty, and help to restructure Burma's current debt $397 million.
Following the repayment of Burma's outstanding debt, the World Bank has also announced that the country will be given access to interest-free loans from the International Development Association, which is the World Bank's fund for poverty-stricken countries. Assistance is also proposed for Burmese authorities, which would be directed towards helping Burma further reform its financial system and improve the country's business environment. Pamela Cox, the vice president of the World Bank for East Asia and the Pacific, stated that actions in these areas would help the government attract responsible foreign investment, expand trade, manage its resources better, and create more jobs and opportunities for the Burmese people.
With these lifted sanctions and proposed reports, foreign investors are eagerly waiting for the opportunity to access the Burmese economy and markets. Like most of Southeast Asia, Burma is a resource-rich country, filled with hardwood timber, natural gas, fishery reserves, and is a leading source of gems and jade. As a member of ASEAN, Burma is also very interconnected with other Southeast Asian economies, and as the world's attention shifts towards Southeast Asia and the Pacific, investors should expect the recovering Burmese economy to play a key role in the future of the region.