Please join Connie Carter, School of Business, for her Roads to Research presentation entitled: Challenges and Opportunities of Doing Business in Burma's Special Economic Zones (SEZs): Preliminary Findings.
When: Wednesday, Sept. 25, noon to 1 p.m.Where: Learning and Innovation Centre, 407 (Centre for Dialogue)
Coffee provided.Please bring your lunch. Land grabs, social and environmental risks, and other rights abuses against local communities’ residents are the main challenges that this study uncovered in thirteen villages in the SEZ-designated areas. Unfair contracts, unclear laws, lack of policy commitments to protect residents, the threat of ethnic and religious conflict, and lack of physical infrastructure are also major concerns. The immediate opportunities lie in the ability of the Private-Public Partners (governments and foreign investors) to engage with the affected stakeholders during the planning and development of the SEZs. The long term opportunities, which depend on successful implementation, include cheap labour for manufacturing and mining, resulting in poverty alleviation; access to geo-political location at the crossroads between China and India; access to immense riches in minerals, forestry, fishery, tourism, agriculture, water, oil and gas. Like China in the 1980s, Burma (Myanmar) now plans to use SEZs to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) to kick-start its economic development. The three SEZ-designated areas (each measuring some 200 km2) currently contain hundreds of small villages and forest settlements which support the homes and livelihoods of small-scale household farmers, crop-harvesters and fishers. The SEZs will displace them all. The authorities will relocate them to new, purpose-built, urban-looking settlements; but little thought has been given to their future livelihoods. Part one of this research project involves qualitative enquiry into the circumstances and opinions of people in thirteen villages in the affected areas, and some NGOs and civil society members who support the villagers. Parts two and three enquire into the opinions and situation of the Private-Public Partners who will design, implement, and operate the SEZs; and some of those who will invest there.