Friday, 28 February 2014

Nay Pyi Taw to host BIMSTEC summit in March

The third summit for the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) will be held in Nay Pyi Taw from March 1 to 4 according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

BIMSTEC includes Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal and aims to create cooperation in multiple sectors including trade, investment and energy.

Burma’s foreign minister meets his Seoul mate

Burma’s Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin met South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se in Seoul on Thursday to discuss bilateral ties.

They are expected to discuss economic cooperation and ways to boost ties between South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), among other issues.

Online e-book sales to be launched in April

Online sale of Myanmar e-books will be launched on April 1, according to the Myanmar Publishers and Distributors Association.

“The main weakness of the publishers is that we didn’t keep a softcopy after publishing a book. That’s why we have to do everything from the start again after signing with JAS e-Book to launch the online sale programme,” said Myo Aung, chairperson of the Myanmar Publishers and Distributors Association.

Myanmar protested to China over illegal timber, minerals exports: Minister

Myanmar lodged a diplomatic protest with China last year over the illegal export of timber and minerals from protected areas of Kachin State, President’s Office Minister U Soe Maung told the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw on February 26.

U Soe Maung said the protest had been accompanied by photographs of Chinese nationals who had entered Myanmar illegally to extract the timber and minerals.

Ministry to sign MoU for Dawei power plant

The Ministry of Energy has approved plans by the Admin Power & Utility Ltd. to build a 500-MW natural gas power plant in Dawei.

The ministry will allow the company to purchase natural gas to build a 50-MW power plant to provide power for regional security as a first phase.

“The ministry and the company will sign a MoU in coming March. It is expected that the construction of the plant could be finished within eight months. As soon as the plan is finished, power will be supplied,” said Win Swe, minister for electric power and industry.

Half of Big Asian Businesses Eyeing Move Into Burma, Survey Finds

RANGOON — Half of large Asian companies see Burma as an opportunity to expand their business, according to research by Singapore’s United Overseas Bank (UOB) disclosed at a forum for regional investors Wednesday.

More than 300 businesspeople from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam, among other places, attended the event Rangoon titled “Unlocking Myanmar’s Potential,” which was hosted by UOB.

Myanmar Summer Electricity Shortage Poses Serious Threat To Production

With the hottest months of the year, March to May, coming up, businesses in Myanmar are already worried that electricity outages will hurt their production again, just like in the summer months of 2013 when factories received as little as three hours of electricity a day.

Electricity is a luxury for most parts of the impoverished Southeast Asian nation. Only 30 percent of the country’s population has access to electricity, and even they have to deal with frequent outages. The government is building power lines, and it is hopeful that toward the end of the year, more Burmese will be connected to the power grid.

International, Myanmar tour agencies encouraged to work together

Myanmar’s hotels and tourism deputy minister has invited the international tourism business community to work with local agencies to produce better results.

Speaking at the fifth World Ecotourism Summit in the Philippines, deputy minister of tourism Tin Shwe said that working together would be of mutual benefit for both foreign and local agencies. He added that Myanmar is currently focusing on its coastal ecosystem, the protection of its biodiversity and the maintenance of its mangrove forests.

New Light of Myanmar (28 Feb 2014 - Friday)

The Mirror Daily (28 Feb 2014 - Friday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (28 Feb 2014 - Friday)

Myanmar-Singapore joint ventures get listed on SGX

Three Myanmar-Singapore joint ventures have joined the Singaporean Exchange as they wait for Myanmar to open its own stock market, according to a junior advisor for banks and investments.

“The very first three companies that joined to SGX are Yoma Strategic Holdings, Aussino and Super Coffeemix,” Dr. George Soe Win, the junior advisor told the EMG.

Qatar's Ooredoo to launch Myanmar service in Q3

Ooredoo, the Qatari telecommunications operator formerly known as Qtel, will launch 3G mobile services in Myanmar in the third quarter of this year after it was officially awarded a licence last month, its CEO told Arabian Business.

Speaking on the sidelines of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Dr Nasser Marifih said Ooredoo intended to share newly-built infrastructure with fellow licensee Telenor in the South East Asian country.

French tourist guides in high demand

Myanmar has witnessed an increasing number of French tourists visiting the country, leading to a growing demand for more French-speaking tourist guides.

About 160,000 tourists from Western Europe visited Myanmar last year. Among them, French tourists represent the largest number with a record of over 35,000 entering the country. Industry experts have expected the trend to continue this year.

Asean Economic Outlook Remains Robust In Medium Term, Say Asean Ministers

SINGAPORE, Feb 27 (Bernama) -- Asean's economic growth in the past two years has been quite resilient due to the strong domestic demand and investment.

In a joint statement at the end of the 20th Asean Economic Ministers' Retreat here Thursday, the ministers said in the medium term, the grouping's economic outlook remained robust, anchored by rising domestic demand, particularly private consumption and infrastructure investment.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

DICA gives thumbs down to full foreign investment in tourism sector

YANGON—Foreign investors hoping to cash in on Myanmar’s burgeoning tourism sector are in for disappointment if they’re hoping for complete penetration into the market: full foreign investment will not be permitted, and joint ventures will be allowed only with Myanmar citizens, according to the Directorate of Investment and Companies Administration (DICA).

Improving Myanmar’s Business Environment for Sustainable Economic Growth

In a meeting with the business community over the weekend, Myanmar President U Thein Sein declared that “economic development for the country is possible only when the private enterprises that constitute 90 percent of the country’s economy develop,” and that “the government and the private sector must work hand in hand.” He also urged the business community to work with the government in showcasing Myanmar’s “private sector prowess” during its ASEAN Chairmanship.

TTW plans to expand capacity, eyes Myanmar

Thai Tap Water Supply (TTW), a producer and distributor of tap water in Nakhon Pathom and Samut Sakhon for the Provincial Waterworks Authority, plans to invest between Bt2.2 billion and Bt2.5 billion to expand its production capacity by 100,000 cubic metres per day, hoping to generate Bt5.9 billion in revenue this year.

TTW also expects to conclude plans to invest in Myanmar this year.

Myanmar's Fish Exports Slump In 2013 As FDI Remains Low For Sector

Fish exports from Myanmar are falling far short of expectations in the 2013-14 fiscal year, 15 percent less at $550 million compared to the prior year’s $650 million.

The country set a revenue target of $700 million for the year, $150 million more than what it actually achieved, according to U Toe Nandar Tin, treasurer of the Myanmar Fisheries Processors and Exporters Association of the Myanmar Fisheries Federation.

Three Thai ICT giants form JV to penetrate neighbouring markets

Samart Communication Services, Loxley Wireless and Advanced Information Technology (AIT) have partnered to set up a Bt30-million joint venture, SLA Asia Co, to provide total ICT solutions in foreign markets, with the primary focus in CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam).

The JV targets revenue of Bt1 billion within three years, according to Loxley executive Surakij Kiatthanakorn, who has been appointed as SLA's chief executive officer.

Thailand's True in talks to operate mobile service in Myanmar

BANGKOK/YANGON, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Thailand's True Corp Pcl is in talks with Myanmar's Yatanarpon Teleport (YTP) on jointly starting mobile phone operations in Myanmar, a senior True executive said on Wednesday.

"We are in the process of negotiating with YTP. If successful, we need to seek approval from True Corp's board and then we will inform the Stock Exchange of Thailand," Chief Financial Officer Noppadol Dej-Udom told Reuters.

Property prices skyrocket due to speculation and laundering

The most widely heard analysis is that Myanmar’s real estate and property market has been gradually rising based on two genuine factors.

One is the growing demand for housing due to ever increasing population in urban areas and the other is the government’s urban expansion and development of low-cost housing projects.

This generally ignores another major influence: the influx of black money into the property market, inflating prices and driving speculation.

Myanmar sets up anti-bribery body

YANGON - Myanmar President Thein Sein has set up an anti-bribery commission manned mostly by ex-military officers, reports said on Wednesday.

The commission has ex-general Mya Min as chairman, with ex-general Tin Oo as secretary, and 13 other members mostly with military backgrounds, The New Light of Myanmar reported.

Although the establishment of the commission was welcomed by observers, some expressed skepticism over the anti-corruption credentials of the commissioners.

Insurance companies warned to follow rules or lose licence

The Insurance Scrutiny Board has threatened to revoke the licences of private insurance companies if they are found guilty of breaking rules and regulations.

An amount of US$ 46 million needs to be deposited with the Myanmar Economic Bank to establish a private insurance company. 60 percent of the sum is used for company operations and 40 percent is kept for compensation.

PM to visit Myanmar to attend BIMSTEC summit

He will also hold bilateral meetings with the prime ministers of Bangladesh and Thailand and the president of Sri Lanka

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will leave for Myanmar Monday to take part in the third BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) summit that will focus on increasing connectivity and establishing an architecture of subregional economic cooperation.

Adventure camping tour arrives in Mandalay

Tourists travelling with a campervan tour have arrived Mandalay, the ancient royal capital on February 21.

The convoy organised by the Journey Adventure Travel and Tours Company Ltd. comprises of 39 camper vans. They plan to visit Myanmar from February 20 to March 5 and then travel to Thailand across the Myawaddy border.

New Light of Myanmar (27 Feb 2014 - Thursday)

The Mirror Daily (27 Feb 2014 - Thursday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (27 Feb 2014 - Thursday)

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Myanmar likely to cut back expenditure for ASEAN meetings

Myanmar is likely to cut back by more than Ks 1 billion from an allocated expenditure of nearly Ks 12.7 billion to host a series of ASEAN meetings, according to a committee proposal submitted to parliament.

The government has allocated Ks 12.69 billion to host ASEAN meetings this year as the chair of the association.

Myanmar Parliament Appoints Commission to Battle Graft

Myanmar’s parliament on Tuesday appointed a 15-member commission to crack down on corruption which remains a major problem in the country as it evolves from decades of harsh military rule to a democracy.

But lawmakers and other public figures warned that the panel, led by a retired top general, must act tough to weed out graft by overseeing the implementation of the Anti-Corruption Law passed last year.

The Fine Print, Legal & Tax insight

To put things very simply, there are three layers of players involved in the building of a modern mobile phone network in Myanmar. The network operators, Telenor and Ooredoo and other joint ventures or other forms of cooperation entered into by Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) and Yatanapon with foreign telecom companies, outsource the building of the infrastructure to tower companies. They lease land, buy equipment, build the towers and lease them to the network operators.

Government to reduce restrictions on business sector by March

The government is planning to reduce restrictions on the business sector in March this year, Tin Maung Than, director of the Myanmar Development Research Institute/Centre for Economic and Social Development (MDRI/CESD) told a press conference on sub-national governments and business in Myanmar held at IBC yesterday.

Investors who want to do business in Myanmar have always faced hindrances due to frequent policy changes, an overabundance of rules and regulations, and the importance placed on recommendation letters. Even if they are proceeding according to rules and regulations, they can still be asked to resubmit their application if they lack any of the necessary documents.

From Hpakant to Dawei: The Rule of Law and the Development in Myanmar

A jade stone weighing up to 50 tonnes unearthed at Hpakant has focused international attention on business, human rights and the rule of law in Myanmar. The Hpakant mines supply 90% of the world’s highest-quality jade. Famous for their mineral resources, their extraction has become famous for corruption, conflict and crime rather than economic growth.

Jade mining has devastated the regional landscape with entire mountains reduced to rubble and polluted artificial lakes spoiling rivers and streams. The military has been brought in to secure the unusually large find prompting accusations of ‘the fox guarding the henhouse.’ The region has always simmered with conflict. The Kachin Independence Organization’s (KIO) peace treaty twenty years ago opened a void for lawless exploitation. The role of the military, government backed businesses and armed groups complicate investment in the region.

More effective laws needed to fight money laundering

Effective laws to crack down on money laundering will get Myanmar out of the bad books of the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and encourage more international investment, experts said.

A report issued last year by FATF, a global body set up to track down terrorist financing and money laundering, put Iran and North Korea at the top of a list of countries it labelled “high-risk” and “non-cooperative” that also included Myanmar as it either had no applicable laws, or its laws did not comply with international standards.

Myanmar to provide emergency healthcare for tourists

The Shwe Zanaka Company will provide emergency healthcare services for tourists in Kyaikto, Mon State on April 1 and will expand to other popular tourist sites in Myanmar.

The company will cooperate with ambulance services, the Ministry of Health and local hospitals for treatment and with the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism regarding foreign visitors.

"Now we have opened a clinic in Kyaikto to give emergency healthcare services by cooperating with private doctors," said Dr Myint Lwin from Shwe Zanaka Company, which will provide the emergency healthcare service.

Thailand’s PTTEP Plans $3.3B Investment in Burma as Gas Project Nears Production

RANGOON — Thailand’s biggest oil and gas company PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) announced on Tuesday that it will invest US$3.3 billion in Burma over five years.

The Thai national oil and gas company has been working in Burma since 1989, and has been granted seven offshore and onshore oil and gas exploration or production contracts by the Burmese government.

In a press conference in Rangoon on Tuesday, PTTEP Chief Executive Officer Tevin Vongvanich said that the company will make the significant investment in Burma in the five years from 2015. He said that by 2020, PTTEP would produce energy equivalent to 600,000 barrels of oil per day in the country.

"Flammable" snacks under review by FDA

A photo of a flaming bag of potato chips on social media has prompted a Food and Drug Administration investigation into snack-maker Oishi, said Dr Khin Saw Hla, deputy director of the administration’s Yangon branch.

After a photo of Oishi chips in flames caused a stir on Facebook last week, with numerous users weighing in with opinions, the FDA “inspected their ingredients in detail”, said Dr Khin Saw Hla.

“We approved this brand as being safe for consumers, but it was found that the snacks can burn like candles,” she said.

Sizing up the energy giants

Associate Professor Dr. Nigel Finch of the University of Sydney Business School is an expert on economic development in South East Asia with a particular focus on extractive industries.

DVB reporter Angus Watson spoke to Dr. Finch about transparency in foreign investment in Burma and the relationship between the extractive industry and the Burmese people.

New Light of Myanmar (26 Feb 2014 - Wednesday)

The Mirror Daily (26 Feb 2014 - Wednesday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (26 Feb 2014 - Wednesday)

New foreign investment rules with cabinet

New rules for the Foreign Investment Law will be issued in the coming weeks, the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development said last week.

Directorate of Investment and Company Administration director general U Aung Naing Oo said the ministry had finished the revision, which is likely to result in more restrictions on foreign investment, particularly in the services sector.

“Some business sectors have been [taken off the list] and some have shifted [categories],” he said.

Ooredoo extends mWomen programme to Myanmar

Doha: Ooredoo yesterday announced extension of its award-winning mWomen programme to Myanmar to use mobile technology to empower women across its regional footprint.

The programme – which has seen significant success in markets as diverse as Iraq, Indonesia, Qatar and Algeria – has received international attention in recent years.

“We believe every woman should have an equal opportunity to use a mobile phone. Ooredoo has developed experience in delivering mobile services for women across our footprint, particularly from pioneering operations like Asiacell and Indosat,” said Nasser Marafih, Group CEO, Ooredoo.

Local oil and gas firms form new association

Local energy companies seeking a bigger share in the exploration and production of the country’s oil and gas resources have formed MOGSS, the Myanmar Oil and Gas Services Society, the group announced at a press conference last week.

The formation of the group comes at a time when international energy giants are poised to enter the Myanmar energy market with the government already announcing the winners of a tender to explore 18 onshore blocks, while those to be awarded exploration and production rights for 30 offshore blocks are expected to be announced shortly.

Singapore-based UOB provides financial assistance for power plant in Myanmar

Singapore-based United Overseas Bank (UOB) provided financial assistance to build a combined-cycle gas-fired power plant in Mon state of Myanmar, local media reported Tuesday.

A financing agreement was signed between UOB and Singapore company Asiatech Energy which has received permission to build 230- megawatt power plant in Mon state, on Monday, said the 7Day News.

Oil block announcements on the way

After three months of waiting, the winners in the offshore oil and gas bidding competition are finally set to be announced next month, the Ministry of Energy said.

U Htay Aung, the ministry’s chief staff officer, told The Myanmar Times on February 19 that the choice would be announced before the fiscal year ends on March 31.

Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) invited tenders for 30 offshore blocks in April, attracting interest from a total of 75 international oil and gas firms, but after the ministry released a pre-qualified list of 61 companies in July, only 30 produced proposals.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Approaching The Frontier: How One Entrepreneur Is Building The Future In Myanmar

It can be hard for even the strongest entrepreneurs to succeed in cutthroat Silicon Valley. But throw in simmering civil conflict, an almost non-existent Internet infrastructure, a military junta that is still in the early phases of transitioning to democratic rule, and developers more familiar with ColdFusion than Ruby on Rails, and one might reasonably think that it would be nearly impossible for any company, let alone an Internet startup, to succeed in such an environment.

World Bank to assist MCIT with reform of laws, policies

A spokesperson for the World Bank said last week that the international finance body will be working with the Ministry of Communications and Technology to create and implement new laws and policies that will protect the civil liberties of consumers in the country’s growing telecommunications networks.

The project is one part of the World Bank’s larger Telecom Sector Reform Project, which will award the government US$31.5 million of credit to put toward updating the nation’s outdated telecom networks.

Japanese retail giant Aeon to branch out to Myanmar

Japan's biggest supermarket chain, Aeon, will branch out to Myanmar as the first major Japanese retailer in the country.

The project calls for setting up a representative's office here in March to lay the groundwork for launching a shopping mall in Yangon by 2016, Xinhua reported Monday citing its sources.

Yangon rentals on the rise, for now

Residential tenants in Yangon may have to pay as much as 60 percent more in rent in 2014 than just two years ago, as quality apartment units are still in short supply as the number of tenants looking for modern accommodation continues to grow, experts said.

Even with prices for rent growing at an exponential rate now for the fifth straight year, realtors are confident that it is only a matter of time until the bubble that has formed in the city’s skewed property market will burst as a slew of new high-end developments in the pipeline are slated to be finished within two years.

Thein Sein Meets Burma’s Top Tycoons

RANGOON — Burma’s President Thein Sein met with hundreds of business tycoons in Rangoon over the weekend to hear their input about economic reforms.

More than 300 businesspeople and leaders of related associations attended the meeting at a Rangoon divisional government office on Saturday. Among them were some of the country’s richest tycoons, including Tay Za of Htoo Trading, Serge Pun of SPA Group, Steven Law of Asia World, and Zaw Zaw of Max Myanmar.

Construction halts on Old Bagan hotel

The government has ordered the owners of a hotel in Old Bagan to halt the unapproved construction of a planned annex, authorities said.

U Naing Win, director of the Ministry of Culture’s department of archaeology, said that the Aye Yar River View Resort Hotel started building the annex before receiving planning permission for the local authorities.

“We have ordered the hotel to cease construction. If they continue, we will take legal action,” he said.

Myanmar maids arrive in Hong Kong as welfare fears grow

HONG KONG: Hong Kong on Monday received its first official group of maids from Myanmar since the former junta-ruled nation allowed its citizens to work abroad as domestic helpers, as the city tries to plug a shortage.

An initial group of 19 women — drawn from around 200 expected over the next three months — arrived in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory, said the agency which arranged their employment. 

What medicine does(n’t) know about thanaka

Thanakha is, of course, ubiquitous in Myanmar. Its use crosses ethnic and religious boundaries. Although women in most social and economic classes do apply thanaka, descriptions of its use are often essentialist. Statements such as “every Myanmar woman adores thanaka” and “the Burmese have thanaka to thank for the glowing reputation of their complexion” are common in promotional literature.

Regardless of ethnographic complexities, it’s probably safe to say that thanaka in Myanmar is in parts a cosmetic, a preventative-health treatment and a tradition. Over the years, I’ve heard people say it cools the skin, offers sun protection, controls acne, heals wounds, treats rashes and provides nutritional supplement for babies.

Business the key to jobs and growth

When it comes to doing business, there are few places worse, it seems, than the likes of Myanmar, also known as Burma.

That’s at least, according to the World Bank, which has Myanmar ranked as the worst in Asia – at 182nd of 189 rated economies – on the ease of doing business. That’s even worse than 137th-ranked Cambodia.

Rounding out the “Top 5” for worst in Asia in The World Bank 2014 Doing Business report – the latest annual assessment of the ease of doing business in economies around the world – are Timor-Leste (179th), Afghanistan (164th), Laos (159th) and the Federated States of Micronesia (156th).

iPad transactions come to Yangon

A fast payment system involving a quick swipe of a credit card has been introduced in two of Yangon’s top hotels, and could be extended further. Myanmar Citizens’ Bank and 2C2P Company have together launched the iACCEPT system now in use at the Inya Lake and Strand hotels, said U Aung Kyaw Moe, founder and group CEO of 2C2P.

“If a customer wants to pay a bill [using this system], the waiter will bring this device, and they just touch their card to it,” he said.

Allen & Gledhill launches into Myanmar

Allen & Gledhill has become the latest Singapore firm to establish a presence in Myanmar, after launching an associate firm in Yangon.

Allen & Gledhill has entered the emerging South East Asian market through establishing an associate firm branded as Allen & Gledhill (Myanmar). Located in Yangon, Allen & Gledhill (Myanmar) will be headed by partner Minn Naing Oo, who has relocated from Singapore.

Foreign bank licences likely to be named by July

The Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) will likely name the first group of foreign banks to be given independent operating licences by July as they prepare to bring in financing experts to narrow down the selection, a Central Bank official said.

A deputy governor of the Bank, who requested not to be named as they ar e not authorized to speak to the media, told Myanmar Times on February 18 that they will choose no less than five banks, but only after hiring a team of foreign consultants to help them decide, which should be offered the coveted licences.

Amid the stink, traffic and ridiculous prices of marvellous Myanmar

My patience finally ran out on my third trip to Myanmar. It was mid-2013, when the World Economic Forum on East Asia was being hosted by Nay Pyi Taw.
Unlike the second trip, I flew directly from Bangkok, bypassing the long road journey from Yangon, which I remembered for toilet stops you could smell practically kilometres away.

This time, I was booked into a big hotel. In the "air-conditioned" lobby, I was greeted by a powerful odour of damp mould. I passed a room being swept by cleaners in preparation for a new guest. My room had also been cleaned, but dust still clung to some surfaces.

Sonny Aung Khin: a pioneer of Myanmar cuisine

Diners seeking an authentic taste of Myanmar can’t do much better than Yangon’s Padonmar, a Myanmar and Thai fine-dining establishment that Sonny Aung Khin has owned and operated since 2004.

Arguably one of the greatest advocates of the national cuisine, he’s been developing a healthier hybrid style of classic dishes since 1990, when he and his former partner opened Mandalay Restaurant, the first of its kind in Bangkok, where he lived for 16 years before returning home and taking a job at La Padoma, as the restaurant’s first owners from Belgium had called it.

New Light of Myanmar (25 Feb 2014 - Tuesday)

The Mirror Daily (25 Feb 2014 - Tuesday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (25 Feb 2014 - Tuesday)

Growing pains as Myanmar hits 2 million visitor mark

Myanmar welcomed more a “record-breaking” 2 million visitors last year but rising travel costs associated with a shortage of hotel rooms could hamper future growth, industry experts have warned.

Nevertheless, Minister for Hotels and Tourism U Htay Aung told The Myanmar Times he was upbeat about the 2013 result and forecast more of the same this year.

“The year 2013 was a successful year for the tourism industry in Myanmar,” he said in a recent interview. “We received more than 2 million visitor arrivals from January to December in 2013, which is a record-breaking [number].

Aust firms join Myanmar investor gold rush

AUSTRALIAN businesses face challenges in investing in Myanmar, with analysts afraid that political and economic reforms are slowing ahead of a 2015 general election.

Australian business, notably in mining and energy, have joined in the rush to Myanmar as it opens to the world since reforms in 2011.

Sean Turnell, an economist at Sydney-based Macquarie University, says the resource sector leads strong foreign investor interest.

Thilawa SEZ share sales, land leases set for April

More than US$21 million worth of shares of the anticipated Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) will go on sale to the public next month, while land leasing for the SEZ will go forward in the final weeks of April, the holdings firm for the project has announced.

Two million shares of the Myanmar Thilawa Special Economic Zone Holdings Public Ltd will help to raise the necessary funds to begin build the first phase of the project, while additional funds will be picked up through the issuance of early leasing contracts.

IU Kelley School of Business awarded $1 million USAID grant to support Myanmar's economic transition

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Under the terms of the first bilateral agreement between the United States and Burma/Myanmar since 1957, Indiana University and its Kelley School of Business are involved in a program that will help the Southeast Asian nation develop a market-led economy and improve its citizens' lives.

The U.S. Agency for International Development has awarded $1 million to IU's Kelley School for a Global Development Alliance project that will extend the teaching and outreach capabilities of the Yangon Institute of Economics and help micro- to medium-sized business enterprises to be more successful.

Fish exports set to take a dive

Poor investment prospects and production could lead to a US$100 million shortfall in estimated fisheries exports this year, industry experts said.

Fishery exports during the 2012-13 fiscal year totalled about $650 million worth of fish being sold to China, Thailand and as far as the Middle East and US, according to government data. This year however, experts believe that figure will fall 15 percent to about $550 million, well short of the industry’s revenue target of $700 million.

Ooredoo Extends Incubation Programme to Myanmar

Ooredoo today announced the extension of its successful incubation programme to Myanmar with the launch of a new ICT innovation programme in Myanmar, as part of its ambitious efforts to foster grassroots innovation through local entrepreneurship across the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia.

Ooredoo has already successfully developed business incubation initiatives across many markets, including Ooredoo Algeria's tStart and iStart; Indosat's Ideabox in Indonesia; and OoredooTunisiana's Start-up Factory in Tunisia.

Electricity issues to threaten big industry

With another summer approaching, Yangon industrial estates are again facing the prospect of massive power outages that owners expect will cost industrialists hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit, while hurting the commercial capital’s efforts to bolster an investor-friendly reputation.

In the summer months of March to May 2013, factories had as little as three hours of electricity a day, and for the first two weeks of May suffered complete and continuous power outages.

Entrepreneur's Social-Media Site Tailor-Made for Myanmar

Myanmar moved a step closer to a first world telecoms infrastructure late last month when Norway’s Telenor and Qatar’s Ooredoo finalized licenses that are likely to dramatically increase mobile phone use in the nation.

The news wasn’t lost on Rita Nguyen, a 37-year-old Vietnamese-Canadian who has decamped to Myanmar and created Squar, a local-language social media site aimed specifically at the long-isolated country’s youth.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Committees propose amendment to estimated construction price for Education Ministry

Two committees of the Lower House (Pyithu Hluttaw) submitted a proposal to amend an estimated expense requested by the Ministry of Education, as the square footage construction prices differ among the departments under the ministry.

The move came after Lower House MP Mya Oo, secretary of Lower House (Pyithu Hluttaw) Education Enhancement Committee, on Friday (February 21) at the Union Assembly parliament asked for an adjustment to construction prices for one square foot.

Here Come the Germans

Business forum builds interest in Myanmar among German investors

The first Myanmar-German business forum in Yangon in more than 30 years has paved the way for closer economic ties but investors from Germany say a stronger legal framework is essential.

The forum, held at the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Yangon on February 11 during the visit by German President Joachim Gauck, was attended by more than 100 potential investors from Germany.

MP calls for parliamentary action on illegal timber extraction in Kachin State

NAY PYI TAW—Upper House MP San Pyae (Moekaung) has criticised armed groups and departmental officials for the transport of illegally extracted timber from Kachin State to China.

“I will submit a proposal to the Union Assembly (Pyidaungsu Hluttaw) parliament so we can hold discussions about how to handle the issue of illegal timber extraction and export to China,” San Pyae told The Daily Eleven.

Analysts Fear Burma's Reforms Stalling

BANGKOK — Analysts said there are fears Burma's program of political and economic reforms are stalling before the 2015 national elections. Bangkok rights concerns are growing as the foreign business community remains upbeat over Burma's long term economic potential.

The Asian Development (ADB) said Burma can become a middle income country by 2030 if it is able to sustain economic growth rates of more than six percent a year.

The economic and political reforms begun in 2011 have led most nations to set aside long standing economic sanctions against military rule in Burma, which is also known as Myanmar.

ADB to assist on poverty alleviation and HIV prevention projects

Asia Development Bank (ADB) has signed an agreement with the Myanmar government, with cash funding provided by the Japanese government, to carry out poverty alleviation and HIV prevention projects for rural people, according to bank officials.

“The cash assistance for the livelihood of rural people is aimed at poverty reduction and community-based development,” said Putu Kamayana from the ADB.

Visa-free travel looms for Thais heading to Myanmar

Some time this year, Thai tourists may not require visas to visit Myanmar, as the exemption process has started, according to the neighbouring country's tourism minister.

Hotels and Tourism Minister Htay Aung told The Nation in an exclusive interview that his ministry was currently processing the review of visa exemptions for Thai nationals.

Most visitors to Myanmar are from Thailand, followed by China, Japan and South Korea. Myanmar is also popular among visitors from the United States, France, Germany and Italy.

DVB talks to Vicky Bowman, MCRB

DVB Interview International spoke to Vicky Bowman, the Director of the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB) about the centre’s work, ways in which companies can adopt responsible business practices and how to tackle issues such as corruption and human rights.

The centre is currently conducting sector-wide impact assessments in the oil and gas and tourism industries. Next year the MCRB aims to complete impact assessments for telecoms and the agriculture sector. Bowman said these impact assessments identify positive and negative impacts in a sector and that the centre will make recommendations to the government, to businesses and to civil society, on how to reduce negatives in the future.

Myanmar Grants Maersk Permanent License

Maersk Group has received a permanent license to operate container business activities in Myanmar. The business will encompass the three brands Maersk Line, MCC Transport and Safmarine and the agency in Yangon will be officially opened in May 2014.

"We are pleased to be granted a permanent business license to operate our own agency in Myanmar. Since the European Union and United States eased sanctions in 2012, we have experienced a surge in interest in sourcing goods to and from Myanmar," said My Therese Blank, Myanmar Country Manager.

Dawei headed for ecotourism

DAWEI—Tourism firms in Dawei Township are aiming to develop as viable ecotourism businesses in order to protect the ecology of their region.

Since 2012, Dawei has become a tourist destination while also experiencing an influx of business tourists who come to study a mega deep-sea port project there.

The Italian Thai Development’s project here attracted international attention because of its size and strategic location in the Taninthari Region of lower Myanmar.

Japan's Aeon to launch retailing business in Myanmar

Japanese retailer Aeon Co. plans to launch retailing business in Myanmar, sources close to the matter said Saturday.

Aeon is the first major Japanese retailer to branch out to Myanmar since a civilian government took over power from the military in 2011.

The project calls for setting up a representative's office in Yangon in March to lay the groundwork for launching a shopping mall in the country's former capital and largest city by 2016.

Tourism federation in talks to collect Bagan fees

Entrance fees for the Bagan tourism zone will soon be collected by the Myanmar Tourism Federation, with part of the proceeds going toward developing Myanmar tourism and the Bagan region, says federation joint secretary general U Khin Aung Htun.

Fees are currently collected by the Ministry of Culture but the federation is negotiating with the government to take over responsibility. A deal could be reached as soon as April, officials say.

Myanmar president calls for private sector development

Myanmar President U Thein Sein on Saturday called for the private sector development which is important for the economy.

Thein Sein made the appeal at the first meeting with private entrepreneurs and representatives of business organizations at Yangon regional parliament here aimed at paying attention to the economic challenges and difficulties faced by private sector.

Singaporean real estate firm to build housing project in Ygn

YANGON—The Golden City advanced housing project, including nine buildings of 33-storey high-rise apartment blocks, will be constructed over the next four years at the site of the old Central Military Account building in Yankin Township, Yangon Region, according to the Golden Land Real Estate Development Company from Singapore.

“Our company is going to construct nine buildings for this housing project. In the first phase, we will construct four buildings providing 33-storey high-rises for apartment living over two and half years. It will take more than four years to complete the whole project. We invested US$ 85 million in the advanced housing project,” said Alex Zhu, chairperson of Golden Land Company.

Massive Jade Boulder Found in Myanmar

An enormous jade boulder that could weigh up to 50 tons has been found half buried in restive northern Myanmar, and the government has sent troops to protect it, a state minister said Friday.

The raw jade was discovered by villages and small scale miners in the gem-rich region of Hpakant just over a week ago, but since it's still half buried, it's impossible to know its exact size, said Lajun Ngan Seng, the minister of resource-rich Kachin state.

He said authorities believe it may be 18 feet (5.5 meters) wide, weighing up to 50 tons.

By-laws necessary to launch Yangon Stock Exchange

The Stock Exchange Commission (SEC) will be formed this year if the government manages to enact security exchange by-laws in time, according to Daiwa Securities Ltd.

The Japanese firm is assisting the Myanmar government to launch its first ever stock market by 2015. Parliament passed the Security Exchange Law in July 2013 but various by-laws must be enacted before the SEC can be launched.

Manufacturing could start in Myanmar's Thilawa zone in mid-2015

Feb 21 (Reuters) - About 40 foreign manufacturers are interested in setting up in the Thilawa economic zone being developed with Japanese help outside Myanmar's main city, Yangon, and commercial operations could start in mid-2015, a Myanmarofficial said.

Myanmar has opened up since a quasi-civilian government took office in 2011 after decades of military dictatorship and foreign firms are looking to benefit from cheap labour and a virgin market in thriving Southeast Asia.

Italy and Luxembourg offer help to implement tourism master plan

Italy and Luxembourg have offered technical aid to boost Myanmar’s human resources development sector, part of a short-term project for the country’s tourism master plan, sources from the Ministry of Hotel and Tourism say.

Delegates from Italy and Luxembourg visited Myanmar recently to meet with Ministry of Hotel and Tourism officials. In their meetings, they arranged to cooperate on the implementation of human resources development plans targeted for between 2013 and 2015.

New Light of Myanmar (24 Feb 2014 - Monday)

The Mirror Daily (24 Feb 2014 - Monday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (24 Feb 2014 - Monday)

New Light of Myanmar (23 Feb 2014 - Sunday)

The Mirror Daily (23 Feb 2014 - Sunday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (23 Feb 2014 - Sunday)

New Light of Myanmar (22 Feb 2014 - Saturday)

The Mirror Daily (22 Feb 2014 - Saturday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (22 Feb 2014 - Saturday)

Friday, 21 February 2014

Maersk gets licence to operate container business in Myanmar

Maersk Line, the world's largest shipping line, is venturing into Myanmar after it obtained a permanent licence to operate its container business activities.

Maersk Line, along with MCC Transport and Safmarine, which are all subsidiaries of the AP Moller-Maersk Group, will establish their own agency in Yangon in May 2014.

AP Moller-Maersk pointed out that macro-economic indicators are signalling a continuous expansion of growth in Myanmar due to infrastructure development and investments in industries such as agriculture and garment. Trade is also expected to grow as demand for consumer products increases on the back of the 60 million population.

Can China and India Coexist in Myanmar?

“As in the past, so in the future, the people of India will stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Burma, and whether we have to share good fortune or ill fortune, we shall share it together.”

Those were Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s words in 1948, on the day of Burma’s independence from Britain. Since then relations between the two countries have fluctuated between friendship, neglect and outright hostility, yet India’s rise on the international stage and Myanmar’s “democratic transition” are forcing both governments to reassess the nature of bilateral relations based on regional geopolitical developments.

Hotels rush to grab a piece of Myanmar market

YANGON- 300,000 visitors in 2010, one million tourists in 2012, two million last year and most probably three million in 2014. By adding a million foreign visitors, the country is in desperate need for more accommodation for visitors.

The Myanmar Investment Commission granted last year permission for about $US2 billion of investment into hotels and tourism-related projects. It is a matter of urgency as the country targets to welcome 7.5 million foreign arrivals by 2020. It has been a welcome step especially as it follows last year the complete lifting of economic sanctions imposed before by the USA and the European Union.

Myanmar rate cap not working: trade

TRAVEL experts in Myanmar are struggling with high hotel rates as the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism’s price cap fails to cool the market (TTG Asia e-Daily, July 6, 2012).

Frank Janmaat, group general manager of Amata Resort & Spa, said: “A number of foreign tour operators have taken Myanmar out of their programmes because of the continuously rising prices for hotel rooms and transportation. It is difficult to sell your client (when) for the same price. you can either get two nights in a five-star hotel in Bangkok or one night in a three-star hotel in Yangon.”

Thilawa SEZ to reduce land prices by 30%

The price of land in Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) will be reduced by 30 percent to encourage investors as real estate prices skyrocket in other industrial zones in Myanmar.

“Price of industrial zones have been all time high and both local and foreign investors are finding difficulties to invest here. So we are going to reduce 30 percent of current the prices for the Thilawa Special Economic Zone in order to make a favourable business environment,” said Win Aung, president of Thilawa SEZ Public Holdings Ltd.

Myanmar. Favourable Weather at Start of 2013/14 Early Cropping Season

Planting of the 2014 early season crops, mainly maize, irrigated wheat and irrigated secondary paddy was completed in December.

Generally normal to above normal precipitations since the start of the season over large parts of the country benefited sowing and early planted crops development, reports FAO.

Despite Growing Tourist Demand, Burma Keeps a Lid on Homestays

RANGOON — Although foreigners are not officially allowed to stay in Burmese homes, the Ministry of Tourism will continue to allow homestays at a limited number of destinations, an official said this week.

Homestays are increasingly popular among visitors to other Asian countries, and would offer some relief to the chronic lack of hotel rooms currently faced by Burma’s tourism industry.

Myanmar's Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) To Sell Shares In March And Raise Funds For Construction

Shares of Myanmar’s Thilawa Special Economic Zone will go on sale next month, in a bid to raise the $21 million necessary for funding the first phase of construction of the much-anticipated SEZ near Yangon, the financial center of Myanmar.

The plan was announced on Wednesday at a news conference by Set Aung, a government official who is also chairman of the Thilawa SEZ Management Committee, and Win Aung, owner of Dagon Group and chairman of Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Irrawaddy reported.

Small Business Hopes for Millions of Burmese Face Govt Squeeze

New restrictions on small-loan agencies in Burma could stifle micro-business developments critical to raising rural people out of poverty, an economist has warned. But other financial experts say restrictions have become necessary because some agencies have been rashly lending cash without sufficient safeguards.

Scores of lending agencies, some commercial and some non-profit NGOs, have opened up in Burma where they are known as MFIs or microfinance institutions.

New Light of Myanmar (21 Feb 2014 - Friday)

The Mirror Daily (21 Feb 2014 - Friday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (21 Feb 2014 - Friday)

Thursday, 20 February 2014

International Flight Access to Bagan Up in the Air

RANGOON — Burma’s Department of Civil Aviation says international commercial flights to Bagan, a major tourist draw, are unlikely to be granted anytime soon, with charter flights to be the only international air traffic potentially landing near the site’s famed temples for the foreseeable future.

“The current plan is that there will be four international airports in Myanmar—Yangon [Rangoon], Mandalay, Naypyidaw and the new airport, which will be at Hanthawaddy,” said Win Swe Tun, the deputy director of the Department of Civil Aviation, which is part of Burma’s Transport Ministry.

Denko gets green light for oil depot project

Denko Trading Company owned by business tycoon Chit Khaing has been granted permission to build an oil depot according to the Myanmar Investment Commission.

The company will implement the project on 24 acres land of Thilawa Deep Sea port under a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) agreement authorised by the transportation ministry and Myanmar Ports Authority.

Public Shares in Thilawa SEZ to Go on Sale Next Month

RANGOON — Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings Public Ltd announced it will issue shares for sale next month in order to raise about US $21 million to fund the first phase of the Burmese-Japanese Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) near Rangoon.

Set Aung, a government official who chairs the Thilawa SEZ Management Committee, and Win Aung, owner of Dagon Group and chairman of Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), presented the plans during a press conference on Wednesday.

IFC provides local bank US$ 5 million for trade financing

YANGON—The International Finance Corporation announced on Tuesday that it has provided a US$ 5 million trade finance facility to locally-owned Myanmar Oriental Bank Limited that will allow the bank to help local companies increase their imports and exports, generate more foreign exchange, and create jobs.

This facility will enhance MOB’s capacity to cover the payment risks of exporters’ banks while granting trade financing to local companies, mostly small- and medium-sized enterprises, IFC said in a statement.

Action needed on Myanmar's growing elderly-care gap

YANGON, 18 February 2014 (IRIN) - Increasing economic migration is straining families in Myanmar, leaving the elderly to care for grandchildren as their own health diminishes, according to NGO HelpAge International, which warns this phenomenon will intensify in the coming years as migration increases.

A “skip generation” - households with older people living only with grandchildren - is emerging, and places a double burden on older people struggling to care for themselves.

Myanmar plans to buy 20 used train carriages from India

NAY PYI TAW—The Myanmar government is planning to buy 20 used train carriages from India, according to an official from the Ministry of Rail Transportation.

These carriages have air-conditioning and include advanced seating privileges. So, they are more suitable for long distance trips. When the carriages arrive, a trial run will be held.

Myanmar’s Untouched Natural Gas Reserves

‘If I could put all of my money into Myanmar, I would. Myanmar is in the same place China was in early 1979, when Deng Xiaoping said “we have to do something new”. Myanmar is now opening up and it’s the next economic frontier in Asia.‘

Jim Rogers, commodities guru and co-founder Quantum Fund

In 1962 Myanmar (or Burma as it was then called) was the single richest country in Asia.

Public warned to beware of scam

MANDALAY—A public company in Myanmar’s second largest city is trying to scam the public by offering high revenues in return for investment, Ngwe Thein, a money market and business expert has told Myanmar Eleven.

“A public company that doesn’t say what projects it is working on is selling its Ks 100, 000 valued shares to the public. For each share, it is promising a 60 percent profit on shares in three years – starting in 2014-2017. After 2017, the company says, it will pay 50 percent of revenues for each share. It is not legitimate and the public should be aware of it,” Ngwe Thein said.

Telecom tower companies to face land rights obstacle

Access to land for towers will be a key challenge as Myanmar’s two new foreign operators roll out their telecom networks this year, industry sources say.

Following the issuing of licences to Telenor and Ooredoo earlier this month, both companies have chosen partners to handle the construction of their telecom towers. Norway’s will work with Apollo, while Ooredoo has made agreements with Digicel and Yoma Strategic Holdings.

Myanmar approves hotel projects

YANGON, 19 February 2014: Ministry of Tourism and Hotels says the government has granted approval for about 250 hotels with more than 20,000 additional rooms in the Yangon region.

Yangon Region Minister for Hotels and Tourism, U Soe Min, told local media that the approvals are on top of the current 190 licensed hotels that have more than 9,000 rooms.

“As tourist arrivals increase, more hotels are needed and some hotels are expanding…new projects have already opened and more are under construction.”

China, Myanmar face Myitsone dam truths

Debate between China and Myanmar over the suspended US$3.6 billion Myitsone hydro-electric dam project recently reached a new pitch.

A war of words between their governments erupted after China Power Investment launched a renewed public relations campaign to promote the mega-project. This included a corporate social responsibility report released in December beautifying the dam and its supposed wondrous contributions to local livelihoods and development.

ASEAN free trade must consider development gap - Than Htut

Myanmar’s vice director of the ministry of national panning and economic development has said that the ASEAN region needs to renegotiate its free trade agreement to account for the development gap between richer and poorer countries.

Than Htut was addressing the 25th high level meeting of the ASEAN Economic Community held at the Sedona Hotel in Yangon between February 18 and 19.

New Light of Myanmar (20 Feb 2014 - Thursday)

The Mirror Daily (20 Feb 2014 - Thursday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (20 Feb 2014 - Thursday)

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Myanmar Rice Federation Calls for Improved Rice Policies, to Compete with Neighboring Countries

The Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) has called for improved rice policies, to compete with neighboring rice exporting countries like India, Thailand, Vietnam and China. The General-Secretary of the MRF said the government needs to adopt more comprehensive rice policies, which allow foreign investors to invest freely in areas such as seed production, rice milling or industrial farming. 

Baker and McKenzie law firm open in Yangon

Baker and McKenzie has become the latest international law firm to open offices in Myanmar’s commercial capital Yangon.

The Chicago-based firm announced the move on February 18. The Yangon office is the firm’s sixteenth office in the Asia Pacific region.

"Clients are increasingly looking to Myanmar and South-east Asia for growth opportunities, particularly as the ASEAN nations work collaboratively towards achieving the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015," said Eduardo Leite, Baker & McKenzie Chairman of the Executive Committee, in a press release issued by the firm on February 18.

A roadmap to building Myanmar into the food basket of Asia

Ambitious plans by the Myanmar Central Government to catapult the country's agriculture industry into becoming the Foodbasket of Asia within the 21st Century will require tenacity and a steady flow of investments to upgrade machinery, seed stock, fertilizer input, and crop handling methods.

A roadmap to rebuild the former foodbasket of Asia was offered during this year's 2014 Myanmar Agribusiness Investment Summit in Yangon, organised by Confexhub.

Myanmar Microfinance (MFI): New Directive Caps Loans At $500, Could Stifle Small Business Growth

A new directive in Myanmar caps microfinance (MFI) loans at $500, which has the sector worried that small business growth could be stifled even as it expands its role within the Southeast Asian economy.

The industry has experienced considerable growth in Myanmar in the last two years, as the previously closed-off economy opened and internationally backed financial institutions have capitalized on the estimated 84 percent of Burmese who have no access to financing, the Myanmar Times reported on Monday. To date, there are about 150 MFIs operating in the country, providing financing options for the impoverished population.

Deafened by globalisation, Myanmar fears for its culture

New connections bring rapid change that threatens a backlash against openness

To a visitor the life in Myanmar, with its golden pagodas and saffron-clad monks out seeking alms in the morning, gives an impression of an unchanging traditional society. This image is deceptive. Behind the facade of an immutable society in a Myanmar open to world currents, life is changing and ground is being prepared for a backlash against globalisation. It's time for the Western world and the United States to take note.

Banking on Myanmar’s Future

RANGOON — Kanbawza (KBZ) Bank has weathered some severe storms since it was established in 1994, but now stands as Myanmar’s largest privately owned financial institution, with an estimated 94 billion kyat (US$94 million) in capital. Its founder, Aung Ko Win, is a former teacher with close ties to now-retired Vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye, one of the top generals in the former ruling junta.

U Than Lwin, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Myanmar with 40 years of experience in the banking industry, joined KBZ Bank in 2004 as its vice-chairman (2). In this interview with The Irrawaddy’s Kyaw Hsu Mon, he discusses the bank’s recent history and the current state of banking in Myanmar.

Myanmar seeks international help for community-based tourism

MYANMAR needs the experience and expertise of international organisations in order to develop community-based tourism systematically, said Myanmar's minister of hotels and tourism, Htay Aung.

Speaking at the official opening of the second Myanmar Hospitality and Tourism Conference today at Traders Hotel in Yangon, Htay Aung said community-based tourism was a suitable way for locals to participate in the tourism economy in rural areas.

Burma preps for tourist boom

As cool season comes to a close across Burma, foreign tourists remain a common sight across the country, scaling temples at Bagan, taking longtail boat rides at Inle Lake, and soaking up the atmosphere of downtown Rangoon teashops.

Until recently, tourist masses were an all-but-unknown phenomenon; in 2010, just 300,000 tourists visited the country. Owing to political and economic reforms and Aung San Suu Kyi’s public retraction of a longstanding informal travel embargo, numbers swelled to over a million just two years later.

ASEAN meeting on economic integration kicks off in Myanmar

The 25th meeting of ASEAN's High Level Task Force on Economic Integration, which aimed at promoting free trade among the member nations, kicked off here Tuesday.

The meeting was focussed on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic community post-2015 vision and strengthening of the ASEAN secretariat.

ASEAN member countries are currently working to transform the ASEAN into a single market and production base in which there will be free flow of goods, services, investments, skilled labour as well as capital.

New Light of Myanmar (19 Feb 2014 - Wednesday)

The Mirror Daily (19 Feb 2014 - Wednesday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (19 Feb 2014 - Wednesday)

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Agribusiness needs govt aid, say experts

Official development assistance (ODA) might be a more reliable source of funding for Myanmar’s “risky” agribusiness than foreign direct investment as the sector has failed to attract significant interest from overseas since economic sanctions were lifted three years ago, experts said.

Hideaki Matsuo, an economic counsellor with the Japanese Embassy, said agricultural investment was widely regarded as too risky with short term production prospects in short supply.

Vice President warns businesses of foreign control

Myanmar’s Vice President Nyan Tun has warned businesses working in joint venture with foreign companies to implement Special Economic Zones (SEZ) not to fall into foreign control.

Nyan Tun said that working together with foreigners will bring more investment, technology and know-how but they must make sure to have a strategy for all obstacles.

The Fine Print: Legal & Tax insight

Within a special economic zone (SEZ), the management committee can demarcate “exempted zones” and “promotion zones”. Businesses in an exempted zone have to manufacture primarily for export.

The maximum percentage of goods which may be sold locally, meanwhile, will be laid down in implementing guidelines, while goods manufactured in a promotion zone must primarily be produced with local content and directly transported and sold to businesses in an exempted zone.

MP proposes to upgrade Yangon Zoo lease

YANGON - Regional authorities have said they will coordinate with Htoo Group of Companies and the government to increase the land lease for the Yangon Zoological Garden, after an MP for Bahan Township submitted a proposal to parliament.

The present land lease for the Yangon zoo is Ks 70 million per year under a 10 year contract awarded to Htoo Group in April 2011. The contract can be extended but MP Nyo Nyo Thin from Bahan Township raised the issue in parliament claiming that lease price be increased as Htoo Group won the contract because of special privileges.

Yangon: a city caught in a state of gridlock

Yangon is my home, but the introduction of epic traffic jams has revealed the inadequacy of the road network. Simply put: It wasn’t built to handle the number of cars on the streets but more new vehicles are joining the backs of the lines every day.

The city’s planners are busy trying to solve the problems but they are fighting a losing battle. The traffic jams are here to stay until expensive public transport works are completed, and it appears that municipal-level talks over such an undertaking are only preliminary.

Friendly residents, colourful customs make Myanmar a unique destination

MANDALAY, Myanmar (CP) — Jumping bumps and swerving around potholes, two dusty Canadians motorbiking toward an ancient spirit festival just up the road from Mandalay are practically greeted by a welcoming committee.

Burmese women with cherubic cheeks smeared golden with ground-bark makeup rattle shiny silver pots. A boy of about 10 nearly tumbles into the road, teetering on one foot to score high-fives from the scooting passersby.

EITI to report on industry red flags

An energy watchdog group set up to scrutinise the exploitation of Myanmar’s natural resources has announced it will initially concentrate on the “most problematic and profitable” sectors – oil, natural gas and mines.

The multi-stakeholder group, an association of representatives from the government, resource extraction companies and civil society, was formed on February 8 to compile reports under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which seeks to apply international standards to the exploitation of natural resources.

Myanmar gets US$ 22-million ADB grant from Japan for rural livelihoods, HIV prevention

YANGON—The Myanmar government and the Asian Development Bank have signed two grant agreements worth US$ 22 million (Ks 2.17 billion), financed by the Japan government, to help reduce rural poverty and expand HIV/AIDS services to vulnerable groups and into remote areas.

The programmes will be provided through the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR), the bank said. According to the ADB, the $12 million livelihoods grant will benefit at least 700,000 people in villages in the Ayeyarwady Delta, the central dry zone, Tanintharyi Region, and Shan State, where some rural communities face poverty rates more than double the urban level.

Govt greenlights fruit and veg wholesale market

The government has agreed to set up the country’s first wholesale fruit and vegetable markets in an effort to bolster trade with neighbouring countries as well as to satisfy increasing demand from China, an official said.

The markets, which are to be established in each of Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon, Mandalay and Muse, along the Chinese border, came as a part of a joint agreement on February 10 between several ministries including the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Trade the Minister of Co-operatives U Kyaw San announced last week.

Japan’s IIDA to make electronics in Myanmar

IIDA Electronics Ltd. from Japan has been granted permission from the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) on February 13 to manufacture and sell electronic equipment in Myanmar.

The company will set up a factory in Mingaladon Industrial Zone, in Yangon. IIDA was established in 1965 and has an initial investment of more than Yen 300 million. The company is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan.

Microfinance firms decry low regulator loan cap

Microfinance institutions (MFIs) are worried a new directive by the sector’s regulator that caps loans at K500,000 could stifle small business growth and the development of the burgeoning MFI sector as it seeks to expand its role in the country.

Myanmar’s MFI sector has experienced a boost in the past two years with the establishment of internationally backed institutions looking to capitalise on the estimated 84 percent of Myanmar’s population who have no access to financing.

VERMONT LAW SCHOOL TO TRAIN MYANMAR MINISTRY IN ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENTS

SOUTH ROYALTON, Vt., Feb. 12, 2014––Vermont Law will facilitate an Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) training this month in Myanmar to improve that country’s environmental resources.

EIAs are used throughout the world to ensure that the environmental and social impacts of development projects are considered before projects begin. The assessment system is also key to mitigating environmental impacts of projects during construction, operation, and decommission.

Paddy rice prices climb on exports

A increasing demand for rice from abroad has led the price of paddy rice in Myanmar to grow 25.84 percent over the past year as recently acquired duty-free access in other countries is expected to drive exports further in 2014, experts said.

The price of emahta white rice, which makes up better than 90 pc of the country’s rice production, is currently selling for US$488 per 100 baskets (or 2.05 tonnes) on the markets, up from $356 per 100 baskets sold one year ago, farmers said.

Growing pains hit Myanmar rice trade

The Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) has stressed a need for tangible rice policies to keep abreast with industries in neighbouring countries.

A longstanding ban on private rice exports was scrapped in 2010 under the former military junta, but the modernisation needs of Myanmar’s agricultural sector remain vast. The world’s largest rice exporter from 1961 to 1963, Myanmar’s output today lags vastly behind that of its neighbours. And unlike those neighbours - countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, India and China - Myanmar lacks a comprehensive set of rules governing foreign investment in agriculture and the export of the country’s most important crop, according to the Democratic Voice of Burma.

German delegation makes historic visit to Myanmar

A delegation of 150 German businesses, lead by German President Joachim Gauck, visited Myanmar last week in an attempt to bolster bilateral relations between the two countries.

The delegation, representing global firms such as Siemens, BMW and Deutsche Bank, discussed the prospect of local partnerships, investment strategies and introducing international corporate, labour and social practices.

The conference also marked the opening of the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce, the first from Europe to set up in Myanmar.

Indian representative calls for enhancement to India-Myanmar trade

The ambassador suggested that the Mizoram exporters may try exporting goods which have excellent market value in Myanmar

Indian Ambassador to Myanmar Gautam Mukhopadhaya requested the Mizoram government to take all steps to boost the trade with neighbouring Myanmar, officials said here Monday.

The envoy during his two-day (Saturday and Sunday) visit to Mizoram held a series of meetings with Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, Chief Secretary L.Tochhong, top officials, besides leaders of Mizoram Chambers of Commerce and Industries.

Yangon gets new exhibition space

Yangon has a new exhibition and event space after locally based Forever Group last week opened the US$6 million Myanmar Event Park adjacent to Yangon Regional Government offices in Ahlone township.

The 4-acre (16,194-square-metre) venue can accommodate 15,000 delegates for a concert, or 30,000 visitors as well as up to 300 booths for an exhibition.

“As a broadcasting and media company, we needed a space for shooting and events, so we built one,” said company spokesperson U Myo Myat Thu.

New Light of Myanmar (18 Feb 2014 - Tuesday)

The Mirror Daily (18 Feb 2014 - Tuesday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (18 Feb 2014 - Tuesday)

Baker & McKenzie Opens Myanmar Office for New Frontier Investors

Baker & McKenzie LLP, the world’s second-largest law firm by revenue, opened an office in Myanmar to serve foreign investors entering an economy emerging from five decades of isolation.

“First movers” across the telecommunications, energy, mining and infrastructure industries are already active in one of Asia’s poorest countries, Chris Hughes, head of the office in Yangon’s Sakura Tower said in an interview.

YCDC draws lots for affordable housing

The Yangon regional government is set to draw lots to decide which of more than 13,000 applicants will receive permission to buy new low-cost housing at North Dagon township’s new Bo Ba Htoo housing project, a Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) official said.

Located on Bo Ba Htoo road, the new housing project comprises a total of 593 apartment units, 330 of which are 55 square metres (614 sq ft) and will be sold for K25.5 million each. An additional 90 units, at 83 sq m (927 sq ft) each, are the most expensive in the compound and will be sold for K34.7 million each, said U Nay Win, deputy head of the department of engineering for the YCDC.

Inside: Investing in Myanmar and diving into a new labor pool

The investing corporation would be well advised to look beyond simple labor costs and consider indicia of social and market stability that could give the ‘pool’ a solid foundation.

For many years, ‘first world’ corporations have thought of emerging and frontier markets as ideal places to locate labor-intensive operations. In fact, combining matured factory processes with low-cost labor has been richly rewarding, at least at the outset. By definition, however, emerging markets change … sometimes in ways that are not hospitable to foreign industry. The investing corporation would be well advised to look beyond simple labor costs and consider indicia of social and market stability that could give the ‘pool’ a solid foundation.

Govt to target employment agencies

A senior labour ministry official says the government will prosecute labour agencies that do not properly assist workers they place in jobs abroad.

Deputy Minister for Labour, Employment and Social Security U Htin Aung told MPs in the Amyotha Hluttaw, or upper house, on February 11 that the ministry will take “effective action” against dodgy overseas employment agencies.

Under the current rules, agencies have to conduct pre-training courses so that migrant workers understand the languages, customs and culture of the country they are travelling to, as well as the labour rights framework. The ministry then issues identification cards to those who complete their training.

Singapore's Navigat creates blueprint for future Myanmar power deals

(Reuters) - A subsidiary of Singapore-based Navigat Group said on Monday it had begun supplying power under a purchasing agreement that will be the template for future deals byMyanmar, which has one of the lowest electrification rates in Asia.

MAXpower (Thaketa) Co Ltd said it spent $35 million building a 50MW gas-fired plant in a suburb of the main city, Yangon, becoming the first entirely foreign-owned company to enter a long-term power purchasing agreement with the government.

Yangon hotel room supply to double: minister

Yangon's current stock of 9000 rooms is set to more than double in coming years, a regional government minister says.

While the city has 190 licensed hotels with more than 9000 rooms, the government has granted permission for about 250 hotels with more than 20,000 rooms, Yangon Region Minister for Hotels and Tourism U Soe Min said at a ceremony on February 8 to mark the first anniversary of the Myanmar Hoteliers Association (Yangon Zone).

Myanmar rises

There is more to Myanmar than pagodas. After decades of stagnation under the former military junta, the fledgling economy of this Southeast Asian nation is rising like a hot-air balloon in beautiful Bagan.

As a rule, this is a cash economy. Many Myanmar hotels, stores, shops and vendors only take cash, be it local currency or US dollars.

A credit card is a rare sight in Myanmar. Do not expect to withdraw money from banks with familiar names.

Tourism ministry slow to embrace homestays

Homestays are an increasingly popular way for travellers to immerse themselves in a foreign culture, and many countries, including in Southeast Asia, encourage such travel as a means of developing local economies.

Myanmar, however, is far behind the curve in this regard, as the government does not officially allow foreigners to spend the night in the homes of villagers.

‘What’s Most Important Sustainable Growth’

Last week, the Asia Development Bank announced that Japan would provide US$22 million in grants to finance ADB programs aimed at rural poverty reduction and improving HIV/AIDS care in Burma, the latest monetary injection that has come from renewed interest in Burma and its economy. Aside from Tokyo’s assistance, Japanese private enterprise has also been eyeing Burma in recent years as the country has opened its doors to investment from abroad. The Myanmar Investment Commission says Japan could top the foreign direct investment table next year.

Monday, 17 February 2014

US Exim Bank Raises Hopes in Burma With Credit Offer

RANGOON — Local businesses are hoping for more foreign investment in Burma, after the Export and Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) began offering credit for trade with the country last week.

US businesses are considering their options in Burma, after staying away for over a decade due to economic sanctions imposed on the previous military junta by the US government. Similar sanctions were imposed by Europe under the junta, and as a result Burmese traders largely dealt with Singaporean banks for export and import products.

Gov’t will not control telecom rates - Minister

Deputy Telecoms Minister Thaung Tin has said that the government will not control telecom service rates, which will only depend on the market competition.

The assurance comes just as private telecom providers, Ooredoo and Telenor, prepare to launch new mobile services in March, after being finally issued with operating licences in January.

"The telecoms reform program has started. At the moment, two operators have received licenses. Another Myanmar operator will also come," said Thaung Tin, deputy minister of communications and information technology.

No Clean Bill of Health Yet for Burma’s Anti-Money Laundering Drive

RANGOON — Burma looks set to get a new law to counter money laundering soon, but the country still faces numerous challenges in curbing financial crimes.

On Thursday the Upper House passed the Anti-Money Laundering Bill, which will next go to the Union Parliament, where Burma’s Lower House and Upper House sit in joint session. Once the bill clears the Upper House it will go to President Thein Sein for sign-off.

State-owned enterprises must finance themselves - Minister

Expenses of state-owned enterprises will not be covered by the state budget in the coming fiscal years, according to Finance Minister Win Shein, in a push to make them more market-oriented.

In future these enterprises will need to spend from their own annual reserves of capital, the minister explained to parliament while sharing the findings of the Auditor General on the 2012-13 budget reports of the Public Accounts Joint Committee.

Indian engineering exporters set sights on Myanmar

New Delhi: Faced with challenges in markets like the US and Europe that have been in the grip of a slowdown, Indian engineering exporters have set sights on Myanmar, a mineral-rich nation which also has abundant natural gas reserves.

"While the Westerners are flocking to Myanmar in search of next big thing and investors are scouting for new business potential, Indian businessmen would not like to miss the opportunities in a country which is of strategic interest to us in terms of its location," engineering exporters body EEPC India Executive Director Bharat Sarkar said.

Myanmar to reap 10% from Thanlwin hydropower project

Local conglomerate IGE Company plans to sign a joint venture with Hydrochina Corporation to build a 1200 megawatt hydropower project on the Thanlwin River, according to the Ministry of Electric Power.

The Naungpha hydropower project will eventually distribute 90 percent of the electricity to China while Myanmar will only receive 10 percent, over which it will have to buy electricity back at the same rate as it is sold to China.

New Light of Myanmar (17 Feb 2014 - Monday)

The Mirror Daily (17 Feb 2014 - Monday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (17 Feb 2014 - Monday)

New Light of Myanmar (16 Feb 2014 - Sunday)

The Mirror Daily (16 Feb 2014 - Sunday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (16 Feb 2014 - Sunday)

New Light of Myanmar (15 Feb 2014 - Saturday)

The Mirror Daily (15 Feb 2014 - Saturday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (15 Feb 2014 - Saturday)