Competition Policy, Connectivity and E-Commerce in Myanmar

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I am back now from the first workshop on the third phase of the ERIA (eria.org) project on Digital Connectivity in ASEAN and East Asia, held at the One Farrar Hotel in sunny Singapore. It went well and attendants presented some interesting proposals for the research they intend to undertake. Proposals are to be revised by the end of the month when convenor Dr. Lurong Chen will submit a book proposal and then the second workshop will be in February, 2019 in Jakarta for presentation of draft papers.

Here is the abstract of my project:

Competition Policy, Connectivity and E-Commerce in Myanmar

Abstract

The purpose of competition policy is to help structure and regulate market activities so that they are comparatively free and fair for both consumers and also companies and other institutions. It is based on the premise that development, broadly defined, will be best achieved by creating market conditions that are neutral with respect to enterprise ownership (i.e. public or private) and derivation (i.e. domestic or international investment). This premise has been challenged by historians of economic development who note that developed nations achieved their status by systematically contravening the tenets of this approach. Nevertheless, competition policy has a number of impacts on connectivity, which is itself an important measure of economic and social development. The ability of people, companies and institutions to connect with each other and external sources (physically or virtually) influences the ability they have to identify and take advantage of new or variant commercial or social opportunities. This is particularly true with e-commerce, since this can only meaningfully take place when there is a level of connectivity between those people who are involved in the various transactions. These issues, which are complex and difficult to manage in even the most developed states, are particularly problematic in a country such as Myanmar, which not only has to contend with less developed nation status but also has to contend with very low levels of physical infrastructure, high levels of inequality, great diversity in terms of ethnic minority peoples and the legacy of both colonialism and instances of civil war. This raises practical questions of promulgating regulations and principles in a number of different languages when there is limited technical capacity – this issue has proved to beyond the ability of transnational corporations such as Facebook to manage successfully. Informed by empirical research conducted in the first two phases of this research project, this paper uses critical and comparative analysis to identify strengths and weaknesses of Myanmar’s emergent regime of competition policy in the light of how such processes have taken place in regional neighbours such as Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. An account of the provision of e-commerce providers and platforms in Myanmar is included. Policy issues are highlighted but so too are both governance and enforcement issues in the context of a diverse nation with many centrifugal forces working upon them. Recommendations are drawn from this analysis.

Keywords: competition policy; connectivity; e-commerce; Myanmar

SIU Journal of Management, Vol.8, No.1 (June, 2018)

Welcome to the Vol.8, No.1 (June, 2018) issue of the SIU Journal of Management.

CONTENTS

Volume 8, Number 1, June, 2018
Editor’s Introduction

SPECIAL ISSUE: FOOD INSECURITY IN LAO PDR, MYANMAR, THAILAND AND VIETNAM

1. Introduction to the Project – John Walsh (Introduction to the Food Insecurity Project in Four Mekong Region Countries)
2. Food Insecurity in Lao PDR – Nittana Southiseng (8.1.Southiseng)
3. Food Insecurity in Myanmar – Myat Thander Tin
4. Food Insecurity in Thailand – Petcharat Lovichakorntikul (8.1.Lovichakorntikul)
5. Food Insecurity in Vietnam – Nancy Huyen Nguyen (8.1.Nguyen)
6. Methodological Issues for the FAO’s Food Insecurity Experience Survey – Aimee Hampel

PEER-REVIEWED RESEARCH ARTICLES

1 Relocation and Integration of Internally Displaced Children into Public Schools in Nigeria: Some Policy Issues – Subair S. Tayo and Aliyu M. Olasunkanmi
2. An Empirical Study on Organizational Justice and Turnover Intention in the Private Commercial Banks of Bangladesh – Popy Podder, Md. Sahidur Rahman and Shameema Ferdausy
3. Justice and Righteousness in Amos 5:21-27 and Its Implications for Nigerian Society – Oluwaseyi Nathaniel Shogunle

 

BOOK REVIEWS

1. We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates – John Walsh
2. No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics by Naomi Klein – John Walsh (8.1.Klein)
3. Services Marketing: People, Technology, Strategy by Jochen Wirtz and Christopher Lovelock – John Walsh
4. High-Speed Empire: Chinese Expansion and the Future of Southeast Asia by Will Doig – John Walsh (8.1.Doig)

CALL FOR PAPERS

AUTHOR’S GUIDELINES

ABOUT SHINAWATRA UNIVERSITY

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD

Border Economic Zones Linking China with Myanmar, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Vietnam

Announcing: Walsh, John, “Border Economic Zones Linking China with Myanmar, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Vietnam,” in Herlin Chien, ed., Southeast Asia: Beyond Borders and Boundaries (Kaohsiung: Wenzao Ursuline University Press, 2018), pp.128-42.

More details about the book may be found here.

Connectivity and Healthcare in Myanmar

I spent this weekend attending the ERIA Workshop on the Second Phase of the Project on the Digital Economy, Innovation and East Asia at the Westin Grande Sukhumvit Hotel here in sunny Bangkok. The weekend went well and 15 presentations were made overall. Now we will continue to produce the final versions of the papers which will be published as an ERIA report (http://www.eria.org/publications/) and possibly an edited book thereafter.

The abstract for my paper was:

Connectivity and the Healthcare Market in Myanmar

Abstract

One of the results of the long isolation of Myanmar and its people has been the way in which its healthcare industry has become obsolete and lacking in resources. Although wealthy Myanmar people have been able to travel to Thailand or Singapore for contemporary standards of healthcare for the last few years, this option has not been available for the majority of the people. Instead, they have been required to rely on low-cost options, such as the use of generic pharmaceutical products and traditional remedies, in the absence of affordable and high-quality local services. The issues are compounded by the absence of modern healthcare products, the inability of healthcare staff to learn from overseas sources and the limitations on modern communications on almost any subject. However, this situation is changing as the country is opening to the world and burgeoning connectivity is enhancing the ability of individuals and organizations to exchange information, travel and import equipment and expertise. Inevitably, the degree to which people are able to benefit from these changes is uneven because there is not an even distribution of the means of connectivity, i.e. infrastructure, education, market access and equipment. This paper reports on both qualitative and quantitative programmes of research aimed at identifying the different uses of ICT in improving connectivity in healthcare in Myanmar, featuring respondents in both the urban centre of Mandalay and in rural areas. The quantitative research will focus on the everyday life of people and the ways in which aspects of connectivity are incorporated within those lives with respect to various aspects of healthcare. The qualitative research will focus on personal interviews with a range of relevant stakeholders in activities relating to healthcare, including healthcare provision, use of medical laboratories, importing of healthcare equipment, pharmaceutical distribution and hospital management. The results of the research are added to already existing knowledge of Myanmar society to illustrate the nature of rapidly changing lives that are inequitably providing previously unavailable opportunities and aspirations. Some policy recommendations are drawn from the analysis.

Keywords: connectivity; healthcare; inequitable change; Myanmar; social change

Connectivity and the Healthcare Sector in Myanmar

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Announcing: Walsh, John, “Connectivity and the Healthcare Sector in Myanmar,” paper presented at the First Workshop of the Second Phase of ERIA Digital Economy, Innovation, and East Asia’s Competitiveness (January 21st-22nd, Bangkok).

I attended the first workshop of the second phase of ERIA’s project on the Digital Economy, Innovation and East Asia’s Competitiveness at the Westin Grande Sukhumvit Hotel, here in sunny Bangkok earlier this week. It went well. Here is my abstract:

One of the results of the long isolation of Myanmar and its people has been the way in which its healthcare industry has become obsolete and lacking in resources. Although wealthy Myanmar people have been able to travel to Thailand or Singapore for contemporary standards of healthcare for the last few years, this option has not been available for the majority of the people. Instead, they have been required to rely on low-cost options, such as the use of generic pharmaceutical products and traditional remedies, in the absence of affordable and high-quality local services. The issues are compounded by the absence of modern healthcare products, the inability of healthcare staff to learn from overseas sources and the limitations on modern communications on almost any subject. However, this situation is changing as the country is opening to the world and burgeoning connectivity is enhancing the ability of individuals and organizations to exchange information, travel and import equipment and expertise. Inevitably, the degree to which people are able to benefit from these changes is uneven because there is not an even distribution of the means of connectivity, i.e. infrastructure, education, market access and equipment. This paper reports on both qualitative and quantitative programmes of research aimed at identifying the different uses of ICT in improving connectivity in healthcare in Myanmar, featuring respondents in both the urban centre of Mandalay and in rural areas. The quantitative research will focus on the everyday life of people and the ways in which aspects of connectivity are incorporated within those lives with respect to various aspects of healthcare. The qualitative research will focus on personal interviews with a range of relevant stakeholders in activities relating to healthcare, including healthcare provision, use of medical laboratories, importing of healthcare equipment, pharmaceutical distribution and hospital management. The results of the research are added to already existing knowledge of Myanmar society to illustrate the nature of rapidly changing lives that are inequitably providing previously unavailable opportunities and aspirations. Some policy recommendations are drawn from the analysis.

Keywords: connectivity; healthcare; inequitable change; Myanmar; social change

The next workshop is likely to be in Indonesia in April, by which time a draft paper should be available for all participants.

Nation-Building in Myanmar: The Role of Drug Eradication Schemes

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Announcing: Lomethong, Jen and John Walsh, “Nation-Building in Myanmar: The Role of Drug Eradication Schemes,” The Myanmar Journal, Vol.4, No.2 (2017), pp.31-40, available at: http://www.komyra.com/bbs/board.php?bo_table=articles&wr_id=74.

Abstract:

ABSTRACT : Production of opium has been problematic in Myanmar for many
centuries, particularly in the contemporary era where there has been a
shortage of alternative suitable cash crops for subsistence farmers struggling
to face the challenges of globalization. Various drug eradication programmes
have been tried in the country, often in conjunction with international
partners but these have been of limited success because the military
government was unwilling to allow access to many parts of the country to
observers and, indeed, some parts of the country were not available even to
the military government. In addition, local warlords had patronage networks
which extended into government circles and caused divided loyalties among
at least some of those people charged with eradication. This paper explores
the existence and performance of drug eradication schemes in contemporary
Myanmar and then argues that none is likely to be successful until steps are
taken to raise confidence in peace and stability among all important
stakeholders. This, in turn, can only be achieved with nation-building
initiatives. It is recognised that the current political settlement is fragile and it
is not impossible that democracy will be lost again. The example of the
Rohingya refugees and the recent outbreaks of ethnic violence in urban
Myanmar show the limits of state institutions and technical capacity in this
regard.
Key words : drug eradication, Myanmar, nation-building, state capacity

Myanmar’s Mothers at a Time of Structural Change

Announcing:

Win, Sandi and John Walsh, “Myanmar’s Mothers at a Time of Structural Change,” The Myanmar Journal, Vol.4, No.2 (2017), pp.13-30, available at: http://www.komyra.com/bbs/board.php?bo_table=articles&wr_id=73.

Abstract:

ABSTRACT : The intersectionalities of Myanmar’s patriarchic system have
represented significant challenges to the country’s women, particularly its
mothers. The confluence of class, ethnicity and patronage networks contains within itself the numerous barriers to women working outside the house, particularly after marriage. This manifests itself is social mores as well as practical issues relating to the ability to balance child care with outside activities. This situation is now changing because of the relative opening of the state to democracy and the forces of globalization. In Mandalay, capital of the Northern Division of the country and centre of agricultural production, globalization is represented by the physical infrastructure of the road linking the city to Thailand, India and China, the dry dock and special economic zone, the spread of capitalism to more sectors of society and the opportunities to consume international products through newly-opened retail spaces such as in Ocean Plaza, as well as the access to information from mobile internet access cross-border television shows. These changes are affecting the decisions women can make about their lives and the expectations placed upon them to be not just wives, mothers and daughters but, also, modern consumers and producers in a developed capitalist society. This paper reports on qualitative research conducted with a diverse range of mothers in Mandalay through in-depth personal interviews. A semi-structured research instrument is used to encourage the respondents to discuss issues related to work-life balance, aspirations, life chances and relationships with other people, including family members, institutions and the market. The findings are presented within a framework that combine practical, cognitive and spiritual elements.
Key words : gender, modernity, mothers, Myanmar, work-life balance