Overall, 2011 was a year of significant change in Myanmar. By year-end, there was hope that political and economic reforms—incomplete and fragile—were at last underway. Myanmar continued to be an important regional exporter of energy and resources, but in other areas underperformed. Myanmar's international relations improved, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited at the end of November.
The dominant issue in Myanmar throughout 2010 was the elections finally held on November 7. These were the culmination of the ruling junta's roadmap toward "disciplined democracy" but were neither free nor fair. A major development the same month was the release from house arrest of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, which drew worldwide attention. Myanmar's economy continued to underperform.
The bounty presently accruing to Burma from rising exports of natural gas promises to transform the country's finances. Redeeming this promise, however, will require wholesale reform of Burma's fiscal and financial arrangements. Such reforms are unlikely. This article explores the financial potential of Burma's gas exports, the danger that they could yield a ““resources curse,”” and the extent to which the state's fiscal demands compromise Burma's economic development.