The Irrawaddy Business Roundup
By Nan Lwin & Zaw Zaw Htwe 18 January 2020
YANGON – Myanmar’s government has been busy preparing for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit and is planning to ink more agreements on economic collaboration. Meanwhile, it has been a busy week in business. The World Bank has released a positive outlook for economic growth, the opening of a Thai fish factory, foreign investment in Mandalay, mobile health-care access and the first agricultural trade with Laos. This week, The Irrawaddy examines some significant business activity and events across Myanmar.
World Bank growth forecast
The World Bank’s latest Myanmar report said growth was expected to reach 6.4 percent for 2019-20 from 6.3 percent in 2018-19, due to growing investment in transport and telecommunications and other planned infrastructural spending ahead of the 2020 general election.
The World Bank said construction was due to increase due to the issuing of building permits and large foreign investment commitments. Industrial output is expected to grow faster than in 2018-19, with growth driven by the entry of foreign firms. In the medium term, growth is expected to recover with improved business sentiment, better access to electricity and the improved availability of credit, particularly in construction, manufacturing and trade, also supported by the participation of foreign banks.
The World Bank forecast that despite seasonal flooding and volatile demand, agricultural output is projected to grow at a stable 1.6 percent, with greater diversification in production and export destinations. Output was still below the potential, the report added.
Myanmar’s economy continued to show resilience despite the global slowdown and domestic uncertainties, the international institution reported.
The World Bank said there were downside risks to growth such as slowing global and regional growth, especially in China, the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State, the International Court of Justice genocide case and armed conflicts around the borders.
It said the 2020 general election could add another source of uncertainty for foreign investors.
The report said reforms had boosted the economy but firms needed greater access to finance, land and skills, along with better connectivity and an enabling business environment to support the private sector.
It recommended that polices should be geared towards private-sector growth, fostering market expansion, improving the allocation of resources and developing the capacity of market participants.
CK Frozen Food factory opens
Thailand’s CK Frozen Fish and Food Company has opened a factory at Yangon’s East Dagon industrial zone after a reported investment of US$7 million.
CK opened its first fishery business in Myanmar in 2006 but this is its first factory.
The factory has three freezers with reportedly a 2,000-ton capacity and is set to produce 50 tons of fishery produce per day.
Foreign investment in Mandalay
A total of the US$4 billion worth of foreign investment flowed into Mandalay Region between July 2017 and December 2019, according to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA).
The DICA said the regional investment commission approved 79 foreign projects from 16 countries during the period. The commission also approved 179 domestic investment projects worth 5.3 trillion kyats (US$3.6 billion).
The directorate said the rise in investment was partly because the Myanmar Investment Commission was allowing regional and state governments to grant permission for investment of up to US$5 million under the 2017 Myanmar Investment Law.
The first Myanmar-Laos food trade flows
Myanmar started its first agricultural trade with Laos this week. Myanmar and Laos agreed to export agricultural products from Myanmar through the Kyaing Lap border camp in Shan State, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
Myanmar has opened a new market for agriculture products at the hilly border.
Both sides expect to export an estimated US$80,000 worth of agricultural goods through Kyaing Lap during this fiscal year.
Prudential Life Insurance cooperates with MyanCare
The multinational Prudential Life Insurance has announced that it is cooperating with MyanCare, a telemedicine company, to improve health-care access across Myanmar.
The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding for the PruCare program. They said 5,000 families could receive a free health care consultation though the MyanCare app for a year.
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