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This page was last edited on 29 May 2018, at 22:47. All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars. Historically, Burma was the main trade route between India and China since 100 BC. The Mon Kingdom of lower Burma served as important trading centre in the Bay of Bengal.
According to Michael Adas, Ian Brown, and other economic historians of Burma, Burma’s pre-colonial economy in Burma was essentially a subsistence economy, with the majority of the population involved in rice production and other forms of agriculture. All land was technically owned by the Burmese monarch. Exports, along with oil wells, gem mining and teak production were controlled by the monarch. Burma was vitally involved in the Indian Ocean trade.
After Burma was conquered by the British, it became the wealthiest country in Southeast Asia, after the Philippines. It was also once the world’s largest exporter of rice. After a parliamentary government was formed in 1948, Prime Minister U Nu embarked upon a policy of nationalisation. He attempted to make Burma a welfare state by adopting central planning measures. After 1988, the regime retreated from totalitarian socialism. It permitted modest expansion of the private sector, allowed some foreign investment, and received much needed foreign exchange.
The national currency is the kyat. Burma currently has a dual exchange rate system similar to Cuba. The market rate was around two hundred times below the government-set rate in 2006. Inflation is a serious problem for the economy.