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What is the Myanmar kyat (MMK)?

Credit Ratings & Outlook

Sovereign credit ratings play an important part in determining a country’s access to international capital markets, and the terms of that access. Sovereign ratings help to foster dramatic growth, stability, and efficiency of international and domestic markets.

Unemployment

The latest unemployment rate for 1990 is 6.00%.

Consumer Price Index

The latest consumer price index for 2010 is 224.56.

Political Structure

(in an executive role).

Currency Details

The Myanmar kyat, often denoted by MMK, is the official currency of Myanmar. Though the kyat is subdivided into 100 pyas, pya coins are scarce in their existence and instead, notes up to 1000 kyat are most commonly used. While the official exchange rate (MMK/USD) has lingered around 7 kyats to one US dollar, the currency is known for its extremely variable street rate, which can go as high as 1000 kyats (900 kyats as of Feb, 2005). The history behind the kyat is extensive, as the kyat was preceded by several other currencies and changing monetary policies. As part of the British Empire, Burma’s first currency was the Indian silver rupee until April 1937, when the first Burmese rupee was issued. The Burmese rupee remained at par with the Indian rupee until the Second World War, when Malayan military dollars were used as the currency. As soon as the war ended, however, the country reverted back to rupees once again. On July 1, 1952, the Union Bank of Burma replaced the Burma Currency Board and, in the process, the Burmese kyat was introduced. Since there was a strong black market for the currency, kyat notes were demonetized at several different times. For example, in May 1964, the 50 and 100 kyat notes were demonetized, while in November 1985 the 20, 50 and 100 notes were demonetized and replaced with new kyat notes in unusual denominations (25, 35, and 75). A similar process took place in September 1987 as well, but with a more severe nature: the government demonetized the 25, 35, and 75 kyat notes without warning, leaving 75% of the country’s currency of no value. As a result, a new series of notes (15, 45, and 90 denominations) was issued, but great economic unrest ensued. The modern Myanmar kyat was introduced in 1989. At this time, old notes were not demonetized but instead, fell into disuse due to inflation and depreciation of the physical currency itself. In 2004, rumors of another demonetization spread through the country but proved to be false.

Sovereign Ratings for Myanmar

Myanmar is not rated.

What does it look like?

Political Structure

The government of Myanmar has been largely shaped by the fact that Myanmar has been under military rule since 1988. The most obvious way to see this is that a General and Lieutenant General hold the current Head of State and Prime Minister positions respectively. Furthermore, military officers hold almost all cabinet offices. There is no independent judiciary in Myanmar, and a strong tenet of the military government is that political opposition is not tolerated.

Prominent Figures

Head of State:

General Than Shwe (Note: Shwe also holds the title of “Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council”)

Prime Minister:

Lieutenant General Soe Win

Central Bank of Myanmar Governor:

U Kyaw Kyaw Maung

Unique Characteristics

In May of 2003, the government of Myanmar attacked Aung San Suu Kyi and her convoy. In response, the United States placed economic sanctions against Burma including a ban on imports of Myanmar’s products and a ban on provision of financial services by US persons. As a result, Myanmar’s inflow of foreign exchange has been further slowed.

Key Economic Factors

Structure of the Economy:

The economy of Myanmar can be broadly divided into two sectors: the productive sector and the services sector.

Contributors to GDP:

The largest contribution to GDP is from the agricultural sector. Next in line are the trade, processing and manufacturing, livestock, and fishery sectors.

Agricultural Sector:

The agricultural sector is the core of the Myanmar economy, constituting one third of the total GDP and almost half of foreign exchange earnings. Myanmar is rich in agricultural land resources and agricultural labor is relatively cheap. Local and foreign investors find this to be a promising sector.

Trade:

Exports: Agricultural, marine, forest, manufactured and mineral products. Imports: Manufactured goods, particularly capital goods (which, in the late 1990s, constituted more than 40 percent of total imports). Partners: Southeast Asian countries, Japan, North America and Eastern Europe. More than 80 percent of total exports go to the Asian region, and almost 90 percent of total imports come from this region. Myanmar’s government emphasizes the development of bilateral trade relations with the nation’s neighboring countries, using border trade as a mechanism for trade expansion (specified countries include India, Bangladesh, China, and Thailand).

Foreign Investment:

The biggest sectors of foreign investment in Myanmar are manufacturing, oil and gas, hotels & tourism and mining. Singapore is the nation’s largest foreign investor

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