Business Roundup

Irrawaddy Business Roundup

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 7 March 2020

Despite the absence of coronavirus cases in Myanmar, the virus has hit factory supply chains, the dollar exchange markets and the export sector.

Factories have struggled to obtain raw materials, which are mainly imported from China, where the coronavirus outbreak started. Other factories have shut down because of a lack of orders.

The dollar exchange rates are also falling amid the global economic slowdown caused by the spread of the coronavirus.

This week Yangon Stock Exchange received a new member and Myanmar’s government said it was planning to allow foreigners to invest in stocks.

There is has also been a debt dispute between a fuel company and the so-called Yangon Water Bus company.

Finally, the government said it was inviting bids from private companies to upgrade the Yangon-Mandalay Highway, which is notorious for its daily accidents.

13 factory closures leave over 3,000 jobless 

Over the past two months, 11 factories stopped operations and two factories laid off a large proportion of their workforce because of a loss of business, orders and supplies from overseas, a Ministry of Labor official told The Irrawaddy on March 4.

However, these factory closures were not all linked to the coronavirus, said U Nyunt Win, director general of the factories inspection department at the ministry.

Due to the factory closures, more than 3,000 people lost their jobs, he added.

Meanwhile, the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) said this week that many garment factories were facing a supply crisis as links to China were severed.

Daw Khine Khine Nwe, joint general secretary of the UMFCCI, said factories were reducing overtime and allowing workers to take holiday and casual leave to avoid more shutdowns.

But all garment factories would face supply shortages in the next two months, according to the UMFCCI.

Dollar exchange rates fall amid coronavirus 

The kyat fell to below 1,400 per US dollar this week.

Private banks were selling around a dollar for 1,410 kyats and buying at 1,390 kyats.

Private money changers were charging 1,407 kyats for a dollar and buying at around 1,395 kyats.

Before the coronavirus, the exchange rates were over 1,500 kyats per dollar.

“World trade has fallen due to the virus outbreak. Dollar demand has dropped so its value is falling,” Kanbawza Bank’s senior consultant U Than Lwin told The Irrawaddy this week.

The falling dollar might cut commodity and transport prices.

But it might also reduce the competitiveness of the country’s garment exports, according to economists.

Yangon Stock Exchange. / Htet Wai / The Irrawaddy

A new Yangon Stock Exchange member  

The publicly owned transport managing company Ever Flow River (EFR) was listed as the sixth company on the Yangon Stock Exchange.

The company is due to start trading its shares on March 20.

U Kyaw Lwin, chairman of EFR, told The Irrawaddy that they registered for the stock exchange to seek investments for their infrastructure projects, planned for Yangon, Mandalay, Muse, Myawaddy and Tamu.

The Yangon-based company has been running land and sea routes for 20 years.

The stock exchange is also planning to allow foreigners to buy shares on the bourse, according to the Myanmar Times.

Yangon-Mandalay Expressway upgrade planned

The Ministry of Construction is planning to upgrade the Yangon-Mandalay Expressway, one of the county’s most important transport routes, according to the Myanmar Times.

It is one of 58 national development plans listed in the Myanmar Project Bank and it is also expected to cost US$960 million (1.3 billion kyats).

The ministry said it was planning to invite expressions of interest from the private sector to upgrade the 524-km expressway.

Upgrading projects are also expected to start during the next fiscal year and be finished by 2025.

The ministry said the upgrade would improve safety by installing safety measures.

Water Bus Company faces debt lawsuit

The Tint Tint Myanmar Company, which runs the Yangon Water Bus, will have to face a lawsuit from fuel trading Petro and Trans group of companies for unpaid debts, according to The Irrawaddy.

Petro and Trans said the Yangon Water Bus Company failed on several occasions to repay a 70 million kyats (US$50,600) diesel bill.

Petro and Trans lawyer U Than Htun told The Irrawaddy this week that a lawsuit would be filed next week against the river-transport company.

On Thursday, Yangon Water Bus said it had not paid in cash since Petro and Trans failed to retune its receipt slips, although the firm intended to pay the bill.

Thilawa SEZ wins housing project contract

Myanmar-Thilawa SEZ Holding Public Co. Ltd said it had been named the preferred developer by the Yangon regional government for implementing the Gyogone housing redevelopment project.

The 178 billion kyats ($129 million) worth of projects is due to be implemented on 7 hectares next to Insein Road and Baho Road in West Gyogone, Insein Township.

The public company said the plan was for affordable and mid-range apartment buildings for the resettlement of existing tenants from the Gyogone housing estate. The project would include shophouses, schools, clinics and a shopping mall.

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