Responsible Investment in Myanmar's Future
Myanmar's still nascent reform process has emerged as one of the most promising efforts at democratization and liberalization in the world today. On the economic side, reforms have unified the country's multiple currency exchange rates, provided initial steps toward a modern banking system, injected transparency into foreign exchange earnings, and helped to bring inflation under control. A microfinance law was completed and in late 2012 a new foreign investment law was passed.
With abundant natural resources, a bountiful labor pool, and growing interest from foreign investors, Myanmar has an extraordinary opportunity to reverse the damage wrought by decades of political and economic isolation. At the same time, major challenges abound, including creating jobs for the vast majority of the population who live in poverty, tackling corruption, and establishing the rule of law, to name just a few.
Join us as Asia Society and the McKinsey Global Institute bring together business and civil society leaders, government officials, and experts to discuss the challenges and opportunities of Myanmar's transformation and the ways forward for fostering sustained growth and development through responsible investment. This discussion will build on two seminal reports — Asia Society's Sustaining Myanmar's Transition: Ten Critical Challenges. and the McKinsey Global Institute's Myanmar's Moment: Unique Opportunities, Major Challenges.
Carolyn Brehm is Vice President of Global Government Relations and Public Policy at Procter & Gamble, where she leads P&G's government relations team. Prior to that, Ms. Brehm was the Director of Legislation for The Business Roundtable; spent 13 years with the General Motors Corporation in several Washington and overseas assignments; and served as Vice President of Asia for ORBIS International, a global humanitarian organization.
Judith Cekfin is Senior Advisor on Burma at the U.S. Department of State. Prior to this, she served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. During her Foreign Service career, she has served as Vice Consul in Mexico City, Political Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, and Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Manila. She also served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Tom Freston is a Principal of Firefly3, an investment and consultancy firm focusing on the media and entertainment industries, and an Asia Society Trustee. He is the former Chief Executive Officer of Viacom Inc., where he also served as Chief Operating Officer. For 17 years, he was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MTV Networks, MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, Comedy Central, and other networks. He is Board Chairman of the ONE Campaign, an advocacy organization working to fight extreme poverty.
U Wunna Maung Lwin is Myanmar's Minister of Foreign Affairs. Prior to his appointment in March 2011, he served as Myanmar's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva. He has held a number of diplomatic positions, including as Myanmar's Ambassador to Israel and France.
Zaw Oo is an Economic Advisor to Myanmar’s President Thein Sein and serves on the National Economic and Social Advisory Council. He is a Senior Research Fellow and Director of Research Programs at the Myanmar Development Resource Institute’s Centre for Economic and Social Development (MDRI/CESD).
Rajiv Shah (Closing Remarks) is the 16th Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where he leads the efforts of more than 9,600 professionals in 80 missions around the world. During his tenure, he has overseen the U.S. response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and co-chaired the State Department's first review of American diplomacy and development operations. He spearheads President Barack Obama's "Feed the Future" food security initiative.
Josette Sheeran (Moderator) is the seventh president and CEO of Asia Society. In the position, which she assumed in June 2013, she is responsible for leading and advancing the organization's work throughout the United States and Asia, and across its disciplines of arts and culture, policy and business, and education. She is former Vice Chair of the World Economic Forum, which hosts the annual Davos and Davos in China gathering of world leaders. Prior to her tenure at the World Economic Forum, she was executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
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