Foreign Investment Jumps Fivefold in Burma

By Reuters 13 May 2013

RANGOON — Foreign investment in Myanmar was almost five times higher in the last fiscal year than the previous year, figures published on Monday showed, and a senior investment official said much of it went into garment manufacturing.

“Local and foreign investment in Myanmar increased by five times in 2012/13,” official newspapers reported President Thein Sein as saying in a speech in Mandalay on Sunday.

“Over $1.419 billion foreign direct investment was made for 94 enterprises while local investors made 1.1 trillion kyat (US $1.3 billion) for 65 enterprises, creating a total of 82,792 job opportunities,” he said.

A senior official from the Myanmar Investment Commission told Reuters Burma had attracted about $300 million in foreign direct investment (FDI) for 11 enterprises in the previous fiscal year starting in April 2011.

“The significance of last year’s FDI was 78 out of 94 proposed enterprises were in the labor-intensive manufacturing sector, mostly garment factories,” he said, asking not to be named since he was not authorized to talk to the media.

Most of the investment in fiscal 2012/13 came from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

“And the realization rate of proposed enterprises was unprecedentedly high,” he said, noting that since 1988 some $42.31 billion had been pledged for 563 enterprises but only $32.28 billion had actually been invested.

The outlook is bright, especially after the easing of trade and investment sanctions imposed by Western countries on the military regime that ran Myanmar until March 2011.

“The EU is planning to grant Myanmar GSP status very soon and now more and more potential foreign investors are coming to us from all parts of the world,” the investment official said, referring to the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) that offers trade advantages to poorer countries.

The investment climate has also been clarified by a new foreign investment law passed in November 2012.