Investment Commission Racks Up Hong Kong Investment Interest in Myanmar
By Nan Lwin 22 October 2018
YANGON— One week after the government announced their 20-year foreign investment promotion plan, Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) has held an event seeking more investment from Hong Kong, which already stands as one of the largest investors in the country.
MIC held their second Myanmar Investment Promotion seminar on Tuesday in Hong Kong. The first seminar was held there in June.
More than 150 Hong Kong companies and an official of Hong Kong SAR’s government, Secretary of Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau, attended the seminar, according to a press release issued by the event organizers.
Chairman of MIC, U Thaung Tun said the investment body is ready to create an investor-friendly environment and is already making investment regulations more efficient and effective for investors.
“I am confident that many of you will consider investing in Myanmar,” said U Thaung Tun to the audience.
According to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA), Hong Kong is the fourth largest investor in Myanmar after China, Singapore and Thailand. As of Sept. 30, Myanmar permitted $7. 87 billion in investment from Hong Kong so far this year which makes up 10 percent of total permitted foreign investment in Myanmar.
On Oct. 1, Myanmar granted tourist visa exemptions to Hong Kong and Macau SAR passport holders.
“Given the close and friendly relations between Myanmar and Hong Kong, I am confident that the majority of the participants of this event will bring with them a deep understanding of Myanmar. I am equally certain that business executives and investors here in Hong Kong have been following, with keen interest, the positive changes in Myanmar” said U Thaung Tun.
The chairman also stressed that Myanmar youth, who make up a large part of the population, are highly literate and highly motivated and so offer great a human resources potential for companies that are willing to harness it.
“We welcome all investors to invest in our priority sectors such as infrastructure, agriculture and the livestock sector, the power sector, production of fishery products, export promotion and import substitution industries, logistics industries, education services, the healthcare industry, construction of affordable housing and the establishment of industrial estates,” he added
U Thaung Tun met with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam during the visit and discussed building closer economic ties.
According to the press release, the Myanmar delegation, led by Chairman U Thaung Tun and Yangon’s minister for electricity, industry, roads and communications, Daw Nilar Kyaw, and director-general of DICA, U Aung Naing Oo attended the seminar.
Myanmar needs $320 billion in investments for infrastructure by 2030, according to the press release. Foreign-direct investment in Myanmar declined by roughly $3 billion in the 2016-2017 fiscal year compared to 2015-2016. The Myanmar Investment Promotion seminar was held as part of Myanmar’s efforts to increase investment from East Asia countries.
Myanmar’s government expects foreign-direct investment to be a key driver of economic development according to the Myanmar Investment Promotion Plan 2018which was drawn up by MIC earlier this month. It aims to attract more than $200 billion over the next 20 years in responsible and quality investments.
According to DICA, MIC has engaged numerous East Asian countries through its investment promotion activities, including Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea.
Hong Kong is positioned to play a prominent role in facilitating the flow of trade and investment and closer links for economic integration between Hong Kong and ASEAN members including Myanmar. Hong Kong has also shown keen interest in potential investment opportunities brought about by China’s Belt and Road regional development project.
In 2017, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam met State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar to discuss trade promotion between both countries and Myanmar’s important role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). She is the first Hong Kong chief executive to visit since the 1997 Handover.
During the visit, she said, “attaching great importance to co-operation with Myanmar as well as other ASEAN members, Hong Kong expects that the Belt and Road Initiative and the development plan of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area of our country will lead us to a new economic era. With both Hong Kong and ASEAN along the Belt and Road, we hope to co-operate with Myanmar as well as other ASEAN countries to seize the opportunities arising from the Belt and Road Initiative.”
In September, the Greater Bay Area Myanmar General Chamber of Commerce (GMGCC) was formed to promote cross-border investments and collaborations between the Greater Bay Area and Myanmar. The “Greater Bay Area” is made up of Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan, Dongguan, Huizhou, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing and had a total of $1.58 trillion in GDP last year making it the fifth biggest economy in Asia
According the GMGCC, the chamber of commerce seeks to shape and facilitate sustainable and responsible investments along the Belt and Road routes, and connect the Greater Bay Area and Myanmar by creating a forum for meaningful exchanges of cutting-edge information, data and resources among stakeholders to drive multilateral policies, innovations and investments, serving as a platform for government bodies, business associations and local communities to better match resources, capital and professional services between Greater Bay Area and Myanmar.
A Myanmar delegation also recently attended the 23rd Macao International Trade and Investment Fair which creates trade promotion activities between Asian countries and Portuguese-speaking countries (PSCs) through forums, discussions and exhibitions. This year’s exhibition theme was based on the BRI and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area.
In June, a Myanmar delegation including the chairman of MIC and officials from a number of relevant ministries attended the third annual Belt and Road Summit in Hong Kong. The meeting focused on exploring new opportunities under the BRI.
Last month the Myanmar government signed an MOU on the China- Myanmar Economic Corridor, a part of the Chinese president’s ambitious foreign policy to build trade networks between at least 70 countries, connecting Asia, Europe and Africa. The estimated 1,700-kilometer-long corridor will connect Kunming, the capital of China’s Yunnan Province, to Myanmar’s major economic checkpoints—first to Mandalay in central Myanmar, and then east to Yangon and west to the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
During the visit to Hong Kong, U Thaung Tun said, “I believe Myanmar will be a regional transportation hub in connecting the Middle East and the Mekong Region.”