The Southeast Asian bloc is considering stronger measures against the Myanmar military but a range of factors may preserve the unproductive status quo.
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Falling incomes due to the pandemic and coup, and impunity for the military and pro-junta armed groups, have created ideal conditions for a rise in opium cultivation in Kachin State.
The most likely outcome of the economic turmoil triggered by the coup is a period of slow economic growth and joblessness, even as inflation rises and the value of the kyat continues to slide against the US dollar.
An escalation in fighting between the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Tatmadaw near the town of Mong Ko on the China border has emptied villages, while inflaming longstanding tensions over who controls the area.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has attracted ridicule for airing grand development plans at a time when the economy is in crisis, but even the regime’s more rational economic goals are unlikely to be achievable.