Burma opens for business

By-elections, when just a handful of government seats are up for grabs, often don't make much news even in the country where they are being held. But the by-election in Burma is getting huge international attention.

It won't change the balance of power in the country, just 45 of the more than 1000 seats in the national and regional parliaments are being contested, but it represents a milestone in Burma's political development.

And - if it is indeed free and fair - it means Burma's world famous democracy campaigner, Aung San Suu Kyi could, at last, take a seat in parliament.

The election is part of the political reform that is reshaping the country - and its economy, as BBC's Jonah Fisher reports.

So what do these changes mean for businesses on the ground? Luc de Waegh is Founder and Managing Partner of West Indochina which helps people build businesses in Burma. Justin Rowlatt asks him what the prospects are for the Burmese economy.

As Burma's embarks on this experiment in political and economic liberalisation it may be looking for inspiration to its giant neighbour China.

The Middle Kingdom certainly hasn't gone down the democratic path but there is no question that China's liberalised economy is doing very well.

Indeed, Chinese communists are the best capitalists in the world. Or at least that's the rather peculiar theory put forward by Italian economist Loretta Napoleoni. She's written a book on the subject - Maonomics - Why Chinese Communists Make Better Capitalists Than We Do? Justin Rowlatt asks her whether this was anything more than a provocative title designed to attract attention.

Finally we look at the battle over fuel subsidies in Nigeria. The subsidies represent an enormous cost to the government says Business Daily's Nigerian commentator Sam Olukoya, because although Nigeria produces a lot of oil it doesn't have much refinery capacity so most fuel is imported.

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18 minutes

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Thu 29 Mar 2012 11:32 GMT

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