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Myanmar could be Asia's 'rising star': IMF

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WASHINGTON, Nov 21 AFP

November 22 2012, 03:27AM

Myanmar (Burma) could become Asia's next economic engine if it enacts vast reforms, the IMF says, signalling the country could receive a Fund monitoring program in 2013.

"With a commitment to strong reforms, Myanmar has the potential to vastly improve the living standards of its people and emerge as Asia's next rising star," IMF mission chief in Myanmar Meral Karasulu said in a statement.

The International Monetary Fund said the discussions pointed to the possibility of a staff-monitored program next year that would jointly monitor progress on the government's own reform plans.

Karasulu, who wound up weeks of talks with the finance minister, central bank chief and other senior officials, said the government had made rapid strides in reforms to modernise the economy since taking over from a military junta in 2011.

"Nevertheless, the government recognises there is still a long way to go," she said.

The IMF official said the Myanmar authorities had discussed reforms over the coming year that would focus on continuing to unify the foreign-exchange rate, strengthening the central bank and improving revenues to fund its development needs.

In May, the IMF published its first report on Myanmar in decades, calling on authorities to step up reforms to enhance the business and investment climate, including modernising the financial sector and liberalising trade.

Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in Asia after decades of economic mismanagement and isolation under army rule.