Burma Signals for Foreign Investment
By Htet Naing Zaw 8 June 2017
NAYPYIDAW — Burma’s businesspeople are expecting foreign investments to help launch their projects after buying thousands of acres across the country to develop industrial zones and large-scale operations, according to the Myanmar Investors Development Association (MIDA).
Companies presented their ventures at MIDA’s Myanmar Investment Forum 2017 in Naypyidaw on June 6-7, which attracted mostly Chinese businesspeople, followed by Thai, and then Indian, according to the exhibition’s organizers.
Projects seeking foreign investment are sprawled across Rangoon, Pegu, Mandalay, Tenasserim, and Irrawaddy divisions, and Shan State, MIDA vice chairman U Hla Myint told The Irrawaddy.
“There are many foreign investors who have enquired to us about opportunities,” MIDA vice chairman U Hla Myint told The Irrawaddy.
In Rangoon, KMA Group will build high-rise projects in 12 locations covering nearly 11 acres of land in Kyauktada, Mingalar Taung Nyunt, Tamwe, Bahan, Kamayut, Hline and Mayangone townships.
Also in the commercial capital, New City Development Co Ltd will develop an industrial park on 547 acres of land in East Dagon Township, and another on more than 700 acres of land 10 miles from Hlegu Township, according to the MIDA.
Although they have bought the land, the companies are yet to receive official approval from the government to develop the projects, said U Hla Myint.
U Sein Win, the managing director of Hanthawaddy Co., said his company planned to begin three major projects, including an industrial zone near Pegu, on land bought from locals. The company has built roads and water supply facilities for the planned projects, he said.
“For the rest, we’ll invite local and foreign investors to join in partnership with us,” he said. “For the industrial project, we’ll invite foreign industrialists and work together in a joint venture.”
U Saw Oo, managing director of Maw Shan Co, said the Shan State government approved the company’s proposal to establish a border trade zone between Shan State’s Muse and China’s Jiegao and submitted the proposal to the Union government.
“In her visit to China, the State Counselor signed an agreement on establishing border trade zones, including in this place. The proposed zone covers about 3,000 acres,” he said.
Economist U Khin Maung Nyo stressed the importance of making good use of land purchased by companies.
“Yes, companies have to play competitively to obtain land. This is right from an economic point of view, as land is a limited and valuable resource. But, it is important that land brings benefits. If there will be factories and job opportunities on the land, it would be beneficial,” he told The Irrawaddy.
U Toe Aung Myint, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, said granting foreign investors the same rights as local businesspeople would attract them.
“I think we’ll be able to catch up with other countries only by establishing industrial zones and export zones,” U Toe Aung Myint told the press after the forum.
“[Foreign investors] are interested in the infrastructural sector of the country. For example, they want to invest in electricity, as it is lacking here. They want to know about policies on how investment can be made in electricity,” said chairman U Khin Maung Aye of the MIDA.
Responding to anti-China sentiment surrounding controversial China-backed projects such as the suspended Myitsone Dam in Kachin State, and the Letpadaung Copper Mine in Sagaing Division, chairman of the Co-operative Bank (CB) U Khin Maung Aye said, “I would like to tell the whole country that I don’t agree to boycotting all the Chinese investors.
“My view is we should accept Chinese businesspeople if their projects benefit us. But if the projects only benefit them, we should not accept it,” he added.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.