Opportunities and Challenges of Doing Business in Burma's Special Economic Zones

Many countries in Asia employ Special Economic Zones (SEZs) as an integral part of their development strategy to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). As it opens its borders, Burma is considering SEZs and engagement with corporations from Thailand, Japan, and China.

This research project will contribute to a deeper understanding of SEZs, with the goal of enhancing multi-stakeholder dialogue aimed at inclusive development. The Royal Roads University will lead the project, conducting a socio-legal study of emerging SEZs. The goal is to build knowledge of their potential benefits and challenges from the perspectives of key stakeholders, including communities earmarked for SEZ development and targeted population groups. The findings aim to contribute to ongoing policy discussions on fostering sustainable development and at distributing FDI outcomes in an inclusive way.

Researchers will use qualitative research methods to collect primary data through in-depth interviews and focus groups with stakeholders. They will also:
- gather secondary data through a review of available literature;
- incorporate photo reportage into field observations;
- view results using the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, law and development theory, and Corporate Social Responsibility codes of conduct as reference points.

More specifically, the research aims to:
- identify the proposed SEZs' major benefits, and barriers to their successful implementation and sustainability;
- recommend strategies and interventions to overcome these barriers and maximize opportunities;
- foster multi-stakeholder dialogue and relationship-building between Private-Public Partnership (PPP) representatives and key stakeholders, including civil society and affected communities; and,
- generate further research, debate, and dialogue to stimulate changes in human rights policies and practices.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

End Date

Friday, October 10, 2014


18 months

IDRC Officer

Weston, Ann

Total funding

CA$ 60,200


Myanmar, Central Asia, Far East Asia, South Asia, China, Thailand, Japan


Foundations for Innovation

Project Leader

Connie Carter


Royal Roads University Society

Institution Country


Institution Website