Burma’s New Auto Policy to Promote Manufacturing, Say Experts

By Moe Myint 30 May 2015

RANGOON — Domestic and foreign car industry experts will convene over the weekend to hash out details of a new automobile policy geared toward streamlining Burma’s ownership, manufacturing and import practices.

The Myanmar Automobile Policy Conference will take place at the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce (UMFCCI) in Rangoon on May 31.

Aung Myint, vice president of the Myanmar Engineering Society and a member of the Automobile Policy Drafting Taskforce, said the conference will mark the first time foreign auto experts will participate in the automotive policy reform process in Burma.

The new policy, which was proposed in 2013 and will replace the current Myanmar Automobile Law, is meant to be a comprehensive sector reform package that will create new regulations for imports, sales tax, vehicle registration, public transit and investment in car manufacturing.

Aung Win, vice president of the Authorized Automobile Distribution Association, told The Irrawaddy that the new policy will prioritize support for domestic manufacturing.

“The old law is based on importing used cars. It is an unacceptable law for rebuilding the sector in Myanmar, so we need to change it,” Aung Win said. “The law should attract foreign investment, we also need to discuss tax. We need to finish it soon because [the lack of a clear policy] is delaying sector development.”

Members of the task force said the draft will be finished by the end of 2015.

Aung Win said that Toyota, Nissan, Suzuki, Chevrolet and Land Rover will all be represented at the conference. Ford’s Country Manager Khin Htun confirmed that his company will participate, but could not offer any details about the role foreign actors would play in drafting policy.

President Thein Sein’s reformist government in 2011 began easing long-standing car import restrictions that had put foreign vehicles out of reach for the vast majority of Burmese. The three years since have seen imported cars flood the market, the vast majority of which have been used vehicles.

Only about three percent of Burma’s households own a car, truck or van, compared to the 21.3 percent that own bull-carts, according to newly released results of the 2014 census.