BANGKOK—Strong economic growth could lift Myanmar to the rank of middle income nation by 2030 if the formerly army-ruled country overcomes a host of reform challenges, the Asian Development Bank said Monday.
Myanmar’s gross domestic product (GDP) has the potential to expand at an annual pace of 7.0-8.0 percent, while per capita income could triple over the next 18 years, the Manila-based multilateral lender said.
It called for greater investment in infrastructure, education, health and social services to put the country on a sustainable recovery path.
ADB Vice President Stephen Groff said there was “really quite strong potential for growth” in Myanmar.
In order to realize its potential, there needs to be a continuous strong commitment to reform,” he added.
Decades of economic mismanagement under military rule saw Myanmar fall far behind its neighbors in terms of living standards.
Myanmar is currently one of just a handful of countries in Asia still considered a low-income nation, along with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Nepal.
The World Bank classifies low-income countries as those with gross national income per person of $1,025 or less.
But in the future Myanmar could match economic growth enjoyed by fast-growing neighbors in the region, Groff said.
“This growth needs to be inclusive, needs to reach everybody from the middle class to the very poor,” he added.
The ADB and the World Bank both recently opened offices in the impoverished country, which is emerging from decades of military rule under a new reformist government.