Burma—Responsible Investment and Trade Activity (RITA)

Client: U.S. Agency for International Development

Duration: 2020-2025

Region: Asia and the Pacific

Country: Burma

Solutions: Economic Growth

Since Myanmar opened its borders in 2011, economic reform and foreign investment have gradually aligned Myanmar’s political economy with international institutions, investors, and trading partners—these stronger linkages to international markets make it more difficult for the government to ignore calls for reform. Despite these gains, Myanmar’s private sector is still underdeveloped, while the benefits from Myanmar’s annual growth rate of 6-8 percent over the past decade have accrued mainly to the majority Burman community, to businesses located in and around Yangon and Mandalay, to people connected to the armed forces, and to those with access to land and concessions. Gaps in infrastructure, social services, and energy access leave marginalized states at a particular disadvantage.

In response to these challenges, the Burma Responsible Investment and Trade Activity (RITA) increases responsible trade and private sector investment by improving corporate governance, business transparency, and competitiveness in Myanmar. RITA engages international and domestic private sector firms and civil society actors across multiple sectors to facilitate deals and business partnerships, strengthen regional economic integration, and improve business accountability, transparency, and competitiveness.

We use a facilitative ecosystem-strengthening approach to increase trade and investment and improve corporate governance practices in Myanmar, supported by a $3.8 million Investment and Technical Assistance Facility that allows the team to deploy a flexible, tailored mix of pay-for-results subcontracts, grants, and technical assistance to partner firms. This structure facilitates our private sector engagement strategy, avoids market distortion, and prioritizes sustainability by building local capacity within the business ecosystem.

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Sample Activities

  • Build collaboration through a network of partners, including business advisory service providers, civil society, associations, training institutes, banks, microfinance institutions, nonbank financial institutions, development finance institutions, international financial institutions, private equity and capital advisory firms, venture capital, incubators, and accelerators.
  • Identify strategic corporate investment that not only offers capital, but also brings knowledge, transferable business models, and best practices.
  • Develop partnerships to support regional gender-lens investors (GLI) to identify deals in Myanmar, support local investors that want to improve their GLI capacity, and support partners to achieve GLI priorities.
  • Develop an investment grant facility that provides additional capacity building and increases investment in enterprises operating in the most challenging and economically marginalized communities. There will be a strong focus on agro-processing, agri-technology and services, off-farm agri-enterprises, and value chain financing through out-grower models, as well as enabling investments in logistics and energy to help lower the barriers to future investment.
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