Back from Rakhine

This is my first post since departing for the U.S., and since returning to Myanmar about a week ago I spent the last week in the western province, called Rakhine State, to assess business opportunities.

The blue dot is the general area (a screenshot I took from my phone’s GPS when I was there):

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I spent a day in Thandwe, which is a seaside town where Ngapali Beach is located (the nicest beach in Myanmar from what I’ve heard). Unfortunately it was a bit stormy when we were there.

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Thandwe is quite a small city, if you could even call it that. The lush greens were pretty incredible.

Here’s a view from the front and back of our friend’s house:

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City center and market:

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View from hotel lobby:

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The whole place had a jungle feel to it.

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From there we went to Sittwe, which was the focus area for our business analysis. Sittwe is the capital of Rakhine State, and is a coastal town where fishing takes place.

Definitely a bigger place than Thandwe. Here is a picture of the city center:

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We spent some time outside the city as well. Here is the main road in a village we visited to speak with farmers:

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Farm equipment is in need due to labor shortages. You can see this is not the highest quality machine:

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Solar panels:

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Speaking with farmers about their needs:

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Back in Sittwe, we also had a chance to speak with government officials and local businesses. Overall, everyone was very welcoming with regard to doing business in Sittwe. Although there are many NGOs, we were told that we were the first American or European businessmen to speak with city officials about doing business there (so far, apparently it has been South Koreans and Chinese).

There appears to be a big need for development in Sittwe, and everyone we spoke to was very enthusiastic about having us do business there. This applied to doing business with both Rakhine and Muslim communities.

So now, in Yangon, I am spending some time debriefing and processing the trip. I will be putting together a report for the organization that wrote me a business visa as well as continue to consider potential avenues for next steps.

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