Irrawaddy Business Roundup
By Nan Lwin 24 October 2020
YANGON — Although COVID-19 continues to spread, businesses in Yangon are demanding to reopen saying they have suffered enough due to the lockdown.
This week, Myanmar’s government investment agency inked an agreement with the European Chamber of Commerce (EuroCham) to obtain more investment from European Union countries. Moreover, investors from Hong Kong said they are interested in investing in Myanmar despite coronavirus.
Exporters in the country are facing more pressures due to a significant decline of the dollar, saying almost all their operations have ceased. The Yangon gold market reopened this week after closing for more than a month to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Myanmar signs up for more European investment
Myanmar’s investment agency on Wednesday inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with EuroCham to attract more investment from the European Union.
The Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) and EuroCham in Myanmar held an online signing ceremony to boost cooperation in building a sustainable business environment to attract responsible investment.
Under the MoU, DICA and EuroCham will hold meetings, forums and summits to promote investment. DICA will also cohost the annual Myanmar-EU Economic Forum launched by EuroCham.
The EU’s total investment in Myanmar reached nearly US$7 billion (9 trillion kyats) last year, accounting for 8.6 percent of foreign direct investment, according to DICA.
Hong Kong investors eye Myanmar
Investors from Hong Kong are still keen to invest in Myanmar, despite sluggish global growth and uncertainty due to COVID-19, said the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations, following a panel discussion arranged by the Myanmar-Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The ministry said Hong Kong investors are seeking new opportunities to invest in various sectors in Myanmar, particularly energy, transport, banking and finance, retail and services.
As of September 30, Hong Kong is the third-largest investor in Myanmar, accounting for nearly 11 percent of the total investment in the country.
Dollar decline hits exporters
Myanmar’s exporters say they are struggling to survive a further decline in the dollar exchange rate amid the impact of COVID-19.
The dollar is trading at around 1,320 kyats. Last week, the exchange rate declined to around 1,280 kyats from between 1,500 and 1,450 kyats in early 2020. It has been falling steadily since the coronavirus outbreak in March.
Rice, corn and fishery exporters are hit by the depreciation of the dollar, exporters said.
Yangon gold market reopens
Yangon’s gold market resumed operations on Thursday after closing for more than a month on Sept. 15 to curb the spread of COVID-19.
When it closed, pure gold stood at 1.3 million kyats per tical (16 grams). However, shops reopened at higher prices due to the rise of global gold prices.
Yangon Region Gold Entrepreneurs Association said more than 10,000 jobs in the gold sector have been lost due to COVID-19.
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