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ADB Preparing First Myanmar Projects in 25 Years as Thein Opens

Myanmar's President Thein Sein
Thein Sein, Myanmar's president. Photographer: Nelson Ching/Bloomberg

The Asian Development Bank is preparing to fund projects in Myanmar after 25 years, joining other multilateral agencies and governments entering the nation as the former military dictatorship accelerates reforms.

“We are certainly gearing up for re-engagement,” Rajat Nag, ADB managing director-general, said in an interview in his office in Manila yesterday. “We have started exploratory work, we’ve had missions going to Myanmar. The development challenges of the country are huge: infrastructure, social sector. They need a lot of support and capacity building.”

President Thein Sein, who took power last year after a general election in 2010 ended half a century of military rule, has released political prisoners and signed a preliminary cease-fire with the country’s largest armed rebel group, prompting Western nations to consider lifting sanctions. Myanmar may be Asia’s “next economic frontier,” the International Monetary Fund has said, highlighting greater investor interest in the resource-rich nation.

The ADB is seeking approval from its shareholders to formally begin infrastructure and development projects in Myanmar, and will work with other agencies including the United Nations and the World Bank, Nag said.

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