Expansion Into Developing Myanmar

Expansion Into Developing Myanmar

Myanmar is the second largest country in Southeast Asia. With a population of nearly 60 million people, it is currently poised to become one of the biggest markets in Southeast Asia. A country rich in natural resources like precious stones (90% of the world’s rubies come from Myanmar), agriculture, textile, metals and oil and gas, it will play an increasingly important role as these resources become increasingly rare in the near future. Myanmar is also actively developing and promoting tourism, as it has its own unique culture that is very attractive to foreigners.

In the past decade, the number of Burmese residing and working in Singapore has grown substantially. Estimates put it at about 50,000. The reasons for such a large community are varied. One of them is that Singapore has been building up its reputation as an educational hub for the past two decades. As such, many Burmese are attracted by the high quality of education provided at a cost that is significantly less than in American and Europe. When these students graduate, many choose to remain and seek employment in Singapore. Other adults are sent here by their parent companies or come to Singapore to seek employment.

Whatever the case, these Burmese that are in Singapore have a need for translation services. Whether to translate their documents for educational, employment, marriage or immigration services, the demand is there and is also constantly growing. Companies interested in expanding their services to Myanmar also need these translation companies to translate their websites, business documents and other marketing collaterals from English into Burmese.

On 31 Jan 2012, Singapore and Myanmar signed a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Singapore-Myanmar Technical Cooperation Programme. This agreement was signed so that Singapore can give technical help in 3 major areas – administration, economic development and human resource development. These 3 areas are crucial in order to create a pool of skilled and technically-competent workers, something that every developing country is constantly in need of. The MOU was signed by Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K Shanmugam and Myanmar’s Union Minister for Foreign Affairs Wunna Maung Lwin. Singaporean businesses and companies have been investing in Myanmar since 1990 and these investments are expected to grow rapidly with the signing of this MOU.

In the past few years, Myanmar has embarked on major policy reforms. These include anti-corruption, currency exchange rate, foreign investment laws and taxation. As a result, foreign investments have also increased rapidly. The large inflow of capital results in a stronger Burmese currency, and the kyat has grown stronger by about 25 percent. To combat and overcome this change, the government has relaxed import restrictions and abolished export taxes. Therefore, despite a stronger currency, the Burmese economy grew by more than 8% in 2011. With the expected slowdown in the world economy and also fears that China’s economy is overheating, Myanmar will surely be one of the rising economies to watch in the next 5 years.

One of the difficulties faced with translating from English to Burmese is that as yet, Burmese is not a popular language. This can be seen when compared to languages like Chinese, French, Japanese and Spanish. Competent translators who have in-depth knowledge of both English and Burmese are hard to find. Those who have an intricate knowledge of both cultures are even rarer.

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Expansion Into Developing Myanmar


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