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'Jim Rogers is bullish on Myanmar. The Singapore-based investor, chairman of Rogers Holdings, last month compared the Southeast Asian country today with China in 1979, just as Deng Xiaoping was launching the economic reforms that helped transform China into the world’s second-largest economy. With Myanmar’s authoritarian government finally starting on the road of reform, Rogers said, there’s no end to the possibilities for the country’s economy. “It’s right between China and India, 60 million people, massive natural resources, agriculture,” Rogers said. “You could feed much of Asia, they have metals, they have energy, they have everything.”

'On April 1, the country will conduct parliamentary elections, with about 10 percent of the lower house’s seats up for grabs and a few upper house seats, too. The election will be the first since 1990 that will have the participation of the country’s major opposition party, the National League for Democracy, led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung Sang Suu Kyi. Her party won the elections in 1990, only to have the country’s junta invalidate the vote and put Suu Kyi under house arrest.

Also on April 1, the government will ease currency restrictions, allowing the currency, the kyat, to fluctuate under a managed float exchange rate, the official New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported on March 28.

A successful election would likely provide optimists like Rogers with even more reason to favor Myanmar. “If the polltical and economic reform process continues to move forward after the elections on April 1st, then the Myanmar economy could rapidly become Asia’s newest economic Tiger,” Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist for IHS Global Insight, wrote in a March 28 report. The country has potential “to become a hub for low-cost manufacturing,” he added.'
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