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Burma Gold Rush

Author: Joshua Kurlantzick, Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia
April 24, 2012
Prospect

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As it has become clear that Western sanctions on Burma will be dropped, the once-sleepy city of Rangoon has become like a gold rush village. The few business-class hotels in the city centre, once so empty you could walk whole floors without seeing anyone, are now taking reservations months in advance. Every day, business delegations tour Rangoon and Naypyidaw, the capital.

Conferences, a new phenomenon in Burma, are sprouting up: oil industry conferences; aid conferences; conferences on media reform; conferences on the financial sector. The Burmese are beginning to pick up the jargon and to speak of "building capacity," and "sustainable engagement." Outside the venues, street sellers offer souvenirs, snacks, and newspapers. Returning exiles are setting up businesses to cater for travellers, while top-end travel agents, who have struggled, are now inundated with requests.

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