Business

Burma gets a record $20bn in foreign investment

65th Armed Forces Day parade, Naypyidaw, Burma, March 27, 2010
Image caption Burma's military is expected to remain the most powerful institution in society

Burma received a record $20bn (£12.2bn) in foreign investment in the past year, the country has said, dwarfing previous pledges for the isolated nation.

The amount compares with just $302m in 2010 and a total of $16bn for the prior two decades combined.

Neighbouring China was the biggest foreign investor, most of which will be invested in power projects.

The country, long ruled by a military junta, held elections last year for the first time in 22 years.

Analysts say the elections may have improved prospects for the country's economy, for years under sanctions over the junta's human rights record.

China invested $8.27bn in the year to March 2011, followed by Hong Kong with $5.39bn and Thailand with $2.94bn, according to the Ministry of National Planning Development.

Elections

Military-backed parties won by far the largest number of seats in the November polls in Burma, officially known as Myanmar.

Under the 2008 constitution, 25% of seats were reserved for the military.

Opposition groups and Western nations have criticised laws under which the polls were held and condemned the elections as a sham.

The party that won Burma's elections in 1990 - the National League for Democracy led by Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi - is not represented in parliament.

The new president, Thein Sein, is a retired general, former prime minister and seen as loyal to junta leader Gen Than Shwe.

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