Half of Big Asian Businesses Eyeing Move Into Burma, Survey Finds

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 26 February 2014

RANGOON — Half of large Asian companies see Burma as an opportunity to expand their business, according to research by Singapore’s United Overseas Bank (UOB) disclosed at a forum for regional investors Wednesday.

More than 300 businesspeople from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam, among other places, attended the event Rangoon titled “Unlocking Myanmar’s Potential,” which was hosted by UOB.

The bank is looking to provide finance for more ventures in Burma, as economic reforms and the dropping of Western sanctions have sparked optimism for the country’s long-stagnant economy.

Deputy Commerce Minister Pwint San was also in attendance, and in a short speech invited investors to take advantage of Burma’s “untouched” market.

Fredrick Chin, UOB’s managing director and head of group, said UOB wanted to support businesses to move into Burma.

“The participants at our symposium have serious interest in helping to unlock the potential for and within Myanmar,” Chin said.

Chin said that a recent survey by UOB found that half of Asian enterprises with annual revenues between US$10 million and $160 million see Burma as an opportunity for expansion.

“Myanmar has very good potential business sectors for foreign investment in agriculture, mining and natural gas and oil sector,” Chin said, without giving details about the methodology of the survey.

The UOB has already begun helping foreign investors enter Burma’s market.

Earlier this week, Singapore’s Asiatech Energy announced that it had secured a funding agreement—for an undisclosed amount—for a project to build a 230-megawatt gas-fired power plant in Moulmein, in southern Burma’s Mon State.

UOB is also working with US-based APR Energy, which last week announced it had agreed with the government to build a 100-MW gas plant in Kyaukse, Mandalay Division.

The bank has had a representative office in Rangoon since 1994.