Business Roundup

The Irrawaddy Business Roundup

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 1 August 2020

This week, Myanmar unveiled two new large infrastructure projects: a special economic zone (SEZ) for Mon State and an industrial park in western Yangon.

The Myanmar government also gave the green light for the film production industry to reopen under COVID-19 guidelines, though cinemas will still remain closed for at least the next three weeks due to concerns about the spread of the disease.

The Parliament also approved major loans from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the country’s COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan (CERP) and an expressway that is a part of a regional highway project.

The Yangon government approved an investment in beans and rice worth US$1.76 million.

The country’s health and sport minister also said Tuesday that Myanmar does not need to be afraid of the pandemic if everyone in the country would strictly follow COVID-19 guidelines.

Two major new infrastructure projects for Myanmar

On Wednesday, Myanmar unveiled two major new infrastructure projects during the Myanmar-Japan Investment Dialogue Forum, according to the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations (MIFER).

The Myanmar government announced a special economic zone (SEZ) to be built in Mon State and an industrial park to be built in western Yangon.

MIFER head U Thaung Tun said the SEZ in Mon State will be bigger and better connected than any other SEZ in Myanmar. Myanmar currently has three SEZs under development: Thilawa SEZ near Yangon, Dawei SEZ in Tanintharyi Region and Kyaukphyu SEZ in Rakhine State.

The new SEZ will connect the Indian and Pacific oceans, linking Thilawa SEZ to Da Nang in Vietnam via the Greater Mekong Sub-Region East-West Economic Corridor.

Deputy Minister of Planning, Finance and Industry U Set Aung said that the government has selected an international advisory body to help find a company to invest in the construction of the Western Yangon Industrial Park.

He added that the government would select the investors through an open and transparent Swiss Challenge tender process.

Around 1,000 Japanese businesspeople attended the virtual forum this week, along with Japan’s state minister of economy, the Japanese ambassador to Myanmar and the chair of the Japan External Trade Organization.

Parliament approves ADB loan for COVID-19 relief

On Wednesday, the Myanmar Parliament approved a US$250 million loan from the ADB to support the CERP.

In early July, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said the government will create a fund of 500 billion kyats (US$366.7 million) to assist garment manufacturers, tourism businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that have been impacted by COVID-19.

The new loan will be used to provide social support for low-income households and to enhance the healthcare system to help with prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19.

The Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry said the loan will also support locally-owned SMEs.

Parliament approves ADB loan for Bago-Kyaikto expressway

The Parliament also approved a US$483.8 million loan from the ADB and a 27.8 billion yen (US$264 million) loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the Bago-Kyaikto expressway project, which is part of the Greater Mekong Sub-region Highway Modernization Project.

The Parliament approved the loan proposal for the expressway projects with 336 out of 552 lawmakers voting in favor.

Deputy Minister of Construction U Kyaw Linn said in Parliament that the expressway project will be part of the East-West Economic Corridor, which will stretch from Da Nang, Vietnam to Yangon’s Thilawa SEZ.

Investments approved in Yangon and Bago

This week, the Yangon regional government approved a local investment worth 2,400 million kyats (US$1.76 million), according to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA).

DICA said the investment focuses on rice and beans and that it will create job opportunities for more than 80 people.

The Bago regional government also approved extensions of five existing investments worth US$8 million and 680 million kyats (US$498,772). The Bago government said they expect the further investments will create almost 1,000 jobs.

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