Monday, May 9, 2016

Myanmar will soon have another source of support in its efforts to better track economic data and foreign direct investment, when an ASEAN+3 research arm starts a new technical assistance program later this year.

The ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) was set up as a private company in Singapore in 2011, but became an international organisation jointly owned by the member states in February this year, Nomura Munenari, senior operations officer, told The Myanmar Times.

The member states, which include Myanmar, approved a technical assistance framework in April which will rely on voluntary contributions for funding, Mr Munenari said.

“So if the Myanmar authorities request an expert on balance of payments statistics we will find one using the voluntary funds,” he said.

AMRO will concentrate initially on balance of payments assistance because potential recipients identified it as an area of focus during an “informal sounding-out”, Mr Munenari said.

The balance of payments records international transactions across a country’s public and private sector, allowing it to monitor a national deficit or surplus and keep track of how much foreign direct investment is flowing into the country.

In many countries, the central bank contributes to balance of payments data by monitoring the banking system to track the flow of public and private investment coming into and out of the country.

But the Central Bank of Myanmar is unable to monitor such FDI flows, officials at the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) have said.

Approved FDI reached more than US$9 billion in the financial year ending March 31, and DICA officials say they plan to track the level of actual foreign investment from 2017.

Better balance of payments data would help Myanmar track foreign investment, Mr Munenari said.

One of AMRO’s key roles is to help its members decide whether or not to make use of a multi-currency swap agreement between the ASEAN+3 countries.

This facility allows a country facing balance of payments problems to swap its local currency for US dollars. AMRO’s task is to monitor balance of payments data to determine whether the swap facility is required and the necessary amounts, Mr Munenari said.

Myanmar runs a current account deficit, which the IMF expects to fall from 8.9pc of GDP in 2015-16 to 8.3pc in 2016-17.

No country has yet had to make use of the swap facility, Mr Munenari said.


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