August 3, 2016—Aung Myint Myat returns this month to Burma (Myanmar) with an added perspective on regional economic integration, trade, and investment in Southeast Asia, and first-hand experience in development economics.
Aung, who received a master's degree in economics from the Yangon Institute of Economics in May 2015, is completing a two-month fellowship at Nathan Associates Inc. for talented young women and men from Myanmar. In addition to working with staff at Nathan Associates, Aung visited and took part in discussions at U.S. government offices, think tanks, and non-governmental organizations.
"I observed, explored, and learned technical skills and professional skills with development practitioners and great mentors," he said. Those experiences and the many contacts made in Washington will help Aung in his life's work. "I will contribute with my international experiences to the economic development of my country, Myanmar," he said.
Aung also said he was impressed by the parks, public spaces, and other soft infrastructure he took time to observe while in the Washington, D.C., area. He hopes that Myanmar will create and preserve open spaces as it grows.
The Nathan experience was particularly appropriate. The firm, first involved in Burma in the early 1950s, manages two Burma-related projects for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID): the Private Sector Development Activity, and the Economic Reform and ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) Integration activity. The second of these is part of USAID's program ASEAN Connectivity through Trade and Investment (US-ACTI).
"Political and economic trends within Myanmar are favoring its greater economic participation in the ASEAN region," he said. "Foreign direct investment, from the United States, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand in particular, is flowing as a stream to each sector of my country."
Aung previously came to the United States in February as a scholar through the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), an activity of the U.S. State Department's Mission to ASEAN. Aung also participated as a representative youth from Burma at the International Association of Traffic Safety and Sciences (IATSS) Youth Leadership Forum for ASEAN-Japan Youth Leaders in Japan.
Once he returns, he hopes to work for the government sector—the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Planning and Finance—or in the private sector for a corporation.