4: Myanmar’s GDP growth and investment: lessons from a historical perspective

U Myint

Table of Contents

Introduction
Myanmar’s ‘good’ performance from a comparative viewpoint
Reservations about Myanmar’s growth performance
Review of Myanmar’s economic performance using time-series data
Double-digit real GDP growth, 1948–2005
Real GDP growth and the GDI/GDP ratio, 1948–2005
Conclusion
Appendix

Introduction

According to official figures, Myanmar has achieved double-digit gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates every year for the six years from 2000 to 2005. These figures have proved controversial. A related and another contentious issue regarding Myanmar’s economic performance in the same period is that high real GDP growth rates have been achieved with comparatively low gross domestic investment (GDI) to GDP ratios.

In order to gain a proper perspective on these issues, one approach is to use cross-sectional data for a particular period to obtain a comparative view of Myanmar’s performance vis-a-vis the performance of its neighbours in the same period. The comparative approach has been adopted frequently and has been useful in analysing developments in Myanmar’s economic and social situation through the years.

Myanmar has, however, a rich tradition of data collection and analysis. National accounts data, for example, go as far back as 1948, when the country gained independence, and even beyond. In addition to cross-sectional analysis, therefore, the available time-series data could be used to review Myanmar’s recent economic performance, as reflected in official data of the country’s past experience. Such a brief review is attempted in this chapter with specific attention devoted to real GDP growth and GDI.