The Irrawaddy Business Roundup (April 29)

By The Irrawaddy 29 April 2017

Ngapali Beach Sees Rise in Visitors

Visitor numbers to Ngapali beach in Arakan State were up 28 percent last year, according to a report by consulting group C9 Hotelworks.

A total of 71,603 passengers arrived in Thandwe Airport near Ngapali via domestic flights from Rangoon, Bagan, Mandalay and Sittwe, according to the report.

Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland and Italy were the leading international originating markets, the report stated.

Overseas travelers accounted for 59 percent of hotel occupancy at Ngapali in 2016, but domestic tourism is rising fast.

“Local travelers in tourist accommodations grew 79 per cent compared to 11 per cent by foreigners for the same period,” Bill Barnett, managing director of C9, told the travel news website TTG Asia.

The Thandwe hotel zone experienced a 31 percent increase in visitors and the local government is planning to extend the zone by some 7 kilometers, according to the report.

The local administration is also in discussions to add direct international flights to the airport, the report added.

Current annual hotel occupancy rates in Ngapali exceed 60 percent, with average room rates at top-end hotels ranging from US$150-200, according to the report.

Agriculture Exports Show Slight Rise

Agricultural exports accounted for 25 percent of Burma’s total exports during 2016-2017, according to commerce ministry figures reported by the Global New Light of Myanmar.

The total value of agriculture exports reached more than $2.93 billion, up by more than $315 million from the previous year, according to the figures.

Major exports included 1.43 million tonnes of pulses which earned $1.4 billion; 1.75 million tonnes of rice and broken rice earning $554 million, 1.4 million tonnes of rubber worth about $200 million, and more than 1.3 million tonnes of maize worth $253 million.

Total exports of all products for the year was more than $11 billion, with exports of garment products reaching $1.84 billion and fisheries exports valued at $581 million.

Exports of natural gas fell by $1.3 billion on the previous year’s figure and exports of jade and minerals decreased by $190 million, according to the ministry statistics.

Taiwan Boosts Support for Investors

Taiwan is to provide support to potential Taiwanese private investors in Burma through a new facility at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Rangoon.

The ‘Taiwan Desk’ will provide information on legal, tax, labor and environmental protection affairs to assist Taiwanese business people who are interested in conducting operations in Burma, according to the Taiwan News.

The facility is supported by Taiwan’s foreign affairs ministry and is part of the government’s  “New Southbound Policy,” which works to boost Taiwan’s trade and economic ties in South and Southeast Asia. There are similar facilities in Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand.

Bilateral trade between Burma and Taiwan totaled $281 million in 2016, up by 4.2 percent from the previous year, according to the report.

ONGO has new investor

The Burma-based online mobile payments platform ONGO has announced a strategic partnership with the National Bank of Canada (NBC).

ONGO is a brand of Ronoc Asia specializing in fintech services such as retail payment solutions, payroll programs and other payment services in emerging markets.

It announced that the NBC, one of Canada’s largest banks, has taken a 22 percent stake in the company.

“The addition of National Bank of Canada is an important milestone for our business. We have aggressive growth plans for Myanmar and have set ourselves a goal of providing over one million consumers with access to finance over the next three years,” said Michael Madden, founder and chairman of Ronoc and ONGO in the release.

ONGO employs more than 300 people in Rangoon and expects the number to grow to 500 by the end of 2017, according to the statement.

Ooredoo Gets Set For Mobile Money Service

Telecoms provider Ooredoo hopes to launch a new mobile money service titled M-Pitesan by the end of this year, according to DealStreet Asia.

The company is partnering with the Co-operative Bank (CB Bank) for the service and is awaiting license approval from the Central Bank of Myanmar.

Testing for the new service has been complete, according to the report.

Rival telecom provider Telenor has teamed up with Yoma Bank to offer the Wave Money mobile money service.