YANGON — As businesses struggle to survive with COVID-19, Myanmar’s government has made several efforts this week to ease the impact on the country’s economy. It launched a second investment policy review (IPR) that included several recommendations to improve the investment climate. Moreover, the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) has approved six new projects focused on arable farming, livestock and fisheries, manufacturing and other sectors saying the moves would boost job opportunities during the COVID-19 crisis.
One of South Korea’s largest financial conglomerates, KB Financial Group, has announced that it will set up an office in Myanmar next month followed by at least 10 branches in major cities. The US car rental company Avis also announced it will invest an additional US$4 million (5.2 billion kyats) in Myanmar next year.
Japan has decided to invest in the full-phase implementation of the Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in southern Myanmar, Japan’s ambassador to Myanmar, Ichiro Maruyama, told The Irrawaddy in an exclusive interview.
Myanmar launches policy review
Myanmar has launched its second IPR, which includes policy reforms ranging from enhancing responsible investment, establishing more SEZs and strengthening the implementation of environmental impact assessments to foster secure and well-defined land rights, to attract more foreign investment.
Supported by the France-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the review on Tuesday made several policy recommendations intended to help the government improve Myanmar’s investment climate.
Among the recommendations, it suggested the government evaluate the costs of the remaining restrictions on foreign participation in the services sector, such as in financial, construction and retail distribution services, which provide critical backbone services to all economic sectors.
It suggested the government boost transparency in Myanmar’s most troubled sector, the extractive industries, urging that it start with state-owned enterprises due to their importance to Myanmar’s economy.
Among other key recommendations for establishing economic zones, it suggested aligning SEZs and their administration with a broader investment promotion strategy.
It also recommended the government develop a national land law that recognizes and provides for the formalization of all formal and informal land tenure rights and delineates a streamlined institutional framework and process for land rights registration, transfers and acquisitions.
MIC approves investment
The MIC on Wednesday approved six projects which focus on the agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing and services sectors that are worth nearly $74 million (96 billion kyats).
It said it also approved additional investment in five existing projects. The commission said the new projects are expected to create 3,300 jobs in the country.
As of Oct. 31, Singapore (which is often used as a conduit by other countries) is the largest investor in Myanmar, followed by China and Thailand. According to the MIC, the power sector accounted for 26.14 percent of foreign investment in the country, oil and gas accounted for 26.05 percent and manufacturing made up 14.56 percent.
KB to open in Myanmar
One of South Korea’s largest financial institutions, KB, announced that it will open an office in Myanmar in December. The group obtained official permission to operate from the Central Bank of Myanmar in April.
It said it will open at least 10 branches, including in Yangon and Mandalay, to provide loans to promising businesses and real estate finance.
KB Financial Group currently operates KB Microfinance in Myanmar with 21 branches.
Avis to expand investment
US car rental company Avis announced that it invest an extra $4 million in Myanmar next year, saying the market had potential despite COVID-19.
The company said it will open more offices in Naypyitaw, Yangon and elsewhere.
Avis Myanmar, a subsidiary of the RMA Group, announced its first expansion into Myanmar last year for both business and leisure travelers.
Japan confirms Dawei investment
Japan has offered a government-to-government collaboration to invest in the full phase implementation of the Dawei SEZ in Tanintharyi Region, said the project’s management committee. The $8-billion (10.5-trillion-kyat) project is set to be Southeast Asia’s largest industrial complex.
Japan’s ambassador to Myanmar, Ichiro Maruyama, said there are ongoing discussions as his government decided to help implement both the deep-sea port and SEZ with private-sector collaboration.
Maruyama said: “We are currently studying the deep-sea port project. After the study, we will discuss how we can implement the project.”
He said Japan will discuss how to finance the project, whether through official development assistance or other methods.
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