The business sector had an auspicious start in 2019, with the government finally giving the green light to foreign insurance providers to operate in the country.

The Ministry of Finance formally announced on Wednesday that it is inviting interested local and foreign insurers to submit expressions of interest or proposals to operate insurance businesses in Myanmar. It said the process will be facilitated by the Financial Regulatory Department.

The move comes a day after Myanmar Times broke the news that Samsung Life Insurance, South Korea’s largest insurance company, had left Myanmar last August after it got tired of waiting for the government’s decision to allow foreign insurers to operate in the country. The company had set up its representative office in Yangon in 2013.

Experts are also bullish about the recovery of the economy after a sluggish performance last year. Analysts from Singapore’s OCBC Bank said recovery might be on the cards for Myanmar as opportunities emerge on the back of policy reforms and implementation of projects related to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

It noted that some BRI projects are beginning to be implemented such as the construction of the deep sea port in Kyaukphyu Township in Rakhine State. There is also the construction of the Muse-Mandalay railway line, which will connect the Ruli East Railway Station in China to Myanmar’s border town of Muse in Shan State. It noted a feasibility study on the project is scheduled to be completed this year.

The good news in politics came much earlier on December 21, when the country’s military, locally known as Tatmadaw, declared a four-month unilateral ceasefire with ethnic armed groups in some areas in the country, raising the prospects of reviving the moribund peaces process. The ceasefire was the first since the government-initiated peace process was launched in 2015 by former president Thein Sein.

Meanwhile health officials noted a sharp decline in injuries during the traditional revelry to welcome the New Year in Yangon, the country’s largest city.

A senior official of the Yangon General Hospital said it recorded 170 injuries and no deaths during the rowdy celebration, a decline from the over 200 injuries and four deaths reported last year. All the injuries this year were related to traffic accidents.

“I think authorities have been successful in enforcing public discipline this year,” said Dr U Maw Maw Oo, who works in the Yangon General Hospital emergency department.