The Irrawaddy Business Roundup (May 13)

By The Irrawaddy 13 May 2017

Myanmar Mahar Htun Teams up with Siemens

Machinery, cement, healthcare and associated businesses operator Myanmar Mahar Htun (MMH) has partnered with international giant Siemens to provide technology support to ports in Burma, MIS-Asia reported.

The partnership will allow MMH to equip ports with facilities such as technology-enabled cranes to boost productivity and safety at the sites, according to Siemens in a press release. It also allied with efforts by the Myanmar Port Authority (MPA) to raise the capacity of Burma’s port facilities, Siemens said.

“Along with MMH and the MPA, we aim to enhance port optimization to reliably handle increased traffic and trade volumes,” said Christian Beckers, Head of Business Development, Digital Factory, Process Industry and Drives, Siemens Myanmar and Cambodia.

Burma’s ports are able to handle around 20 small tankers, with a total of 220,000 deadweight tons (DWT). This number is set to further rise with port expansion.

“Our aim is to make Myanmar’s ports more efficient as they expand, and this will in turn make the country more competitive on a regional level, and all the more attractive to investors and operators,” said Daw Yamon Win, executive director, Myanmar Mahar Htun.

Siemens said it planned to continue to provide technology and solutions to other industries in Burma, including manufacturing and logistics.

Puma Energy Eyes Petrol Distribution

The US$92 million oil and gas terminal opened at the Thilawa port last weekend by Singapore-based Puma Energy and its local partner Asia Sun is expected to boost energy imports to Burma as the economy expands, AFP reported.

Puma Energy Asia Sun General Manager David Holden said the new terminal would cut import costs on products ranging from jet fuel to petrol and bitumen, used to make roads.

“Myanmar is where the need is and Myanmar is what drove the investment,” he told AFP, estimating fuel demand could grow around 5 percent annually in coming years.

Puma Energy is backed by global commodities giant Trafigura and is also one of three foreign firms in the last round of bidding to operate part of Burma’s petrol distribution market with the Ministry of Energy, according to the report.

In addition, it is seeking a license to run petrol stations independently with a focus on the corridor between Rangoon and Mandalay, the report said.

Korean Cable Firm set for Thilawa

Approval has been granted for Korean power cable producer LS Cable & System (LS C&S) to invest in the Thilawa SEZ, DealStreet Asia reported.

The firm’s subsidiary Gaon Cable will form a joint venture to conduct manufacturing with Japan Thilawa Development Ltd, the SEZ developer, according to the report.

The plant at Thilawa will make aerial cables for power infrastructure that passes through transmission towers, as well as low-voltage cables for residential use.

Manufacturing will begin with medium-voltage cables and move on to high-voltage cables.

“We will grow the Myanmar subsidiary just like our Vietnamese subsidiary, which has grown 240 times in 20 years after it entered the local market,” said Shin Yong-hyun, CEO of LS C&S Asia.

LS C&S Asia is the holding company of LS-VINA, one of the largest power cable companies in Vietnam.
Paradiso Expands Movie Business

Paradiso Cinemas Co Ltd, a joint venture between the Maze company and Myanmar Investment Group, has spent about $2 million of a planned $20 million investment in building cinemas, according to DealStreet Asia.

Cinemas opened so far include one in Hmawbi Township in Rangoon Division and Monywa town in Sagaing Division.

The venture aims to finish 100 cinemas in two years, according to the report.

“We target to finish 45 cinemas by 2017 and the remaining 55 by next year,” said U Tin Maung Win, chief executive officer of Paradiso Cinema Co Ltd.

The first cinema, a 320-seater in Hmawbi, opened in January, and the construction of others are in progress in Irrawaddy Division’s Pyapon, Shan State’s Aungban, Shwebo and Kalay in Sagaing Region, and Madaya, Yamethin and Kyaukpadaung in Mandalay Division.

Uber Starts Operations in Rangoon

The Uber taxi app began operating in Burma this week, using only licensed taxi drivers in a similar model to regional rival Grab Taxi, which entered the market in March.

Burma is the 76th country where the app operates. In the Asean region, it operates in six other countries, including Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.

“Yangon is a big city and many people rely on taxis, so Yangon is a crucial market to us. Many drivers and passengers are using mobile phones and we think that they can use our application easily,” said Sam Bool, expansion general manager for Southeast Asia at Uber told The Nation newspaper in Thailand.

Rangoon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein told the paper that the arrival of Uber would support the government’s plans to create a better, more integrated transport system in the city.

Brief Urges Businesses to Protect Children’s Right

The Myanmar Center for Responsible Business (MRCB) urged local and foreign businesses to do more to protect children’s rights in a briefing paper launched on Thursday.

The paper, titled Children’s Rights and Business in Myanmar, outlines 10 business principles designed by UNICEF, UN Global Compact, and Save the Children in 2012 in the context of doing business in Burma.

According to a 2015 study by the International Labor Organization, 10.5 percent of children aged between five and 17 in Burma engage in some sort of employment.

Under current Burmese law, children under the age of 14 are not permitted to work while those between 14 and 18 (young workers) can work limited hours in non-hazardous workplaces.

The brief encourages businesses to ensure they do not use child labor and that young workers are employed in line with international standards. Larger businesses have a duty to ensure subcontractors and suppliers are also respecting children’s rights, the brief says.

Children’s rights are often neglected when businesses conduct impact assessments prior to new projects, the brief notes. Environmental and social impact assessments should include consultations with children in the areas.

At Thursday’s press conference, MRCB director Vicky Bowman acknowledged the legislature must do their part to improve the situation and noted that Parliament is currently drafting a Child Law and a Health and Safety Law is under consideration. She stressed the importance of making sure these laws were in line with international standards.

Tourism Minister Pushes for Ngapali Clean Up

Burma’s Union Minister of Hotels and Tourism U Ohn Maung said the waste problem at Arakan State’s Ngapali beach must be addressed before the area’s airport would be developed to encourage more visitors.

U Ohn Maung made the comments at a workshop on sustainable tourism organized by the Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF), Myanmar Center for Responsible Business (MCRB) and Myanmar Responsible Tourism Institute (MRTI) attended by Union and state lawmakers, local business people, civil society groups, and tourism and environmental experts at Ngapali beach this week.

“We need to manage tourism sustainably, minimize the negative and maximize the positive impacts of these visitors, and work together to make Ngapali a better place to visit and to live in,” U Ohn Maung told the gathered stakeholders.

The minister noted that as waste management was identified as the key challenge (55% of participants said it was their biggest concern), this would have to be remedied before the ministry developed transport links.

Chairman of Ngapali City Development Committee U Saw Lwin said local authorities had recently acquired three new landfill sites and stakeholders committed to combatting litter with less plastic bags and plastic water bottles in hotels, more bins, and a public education campaign.

Other environmental issues such as combatting sand mining and mangrove deforestation were also discussed, as were issues such as sex tourism and limiting properties near the beach to a 10 meter height.