Japanese Firms Plan Plastic Production in Burma

By May Lay 29 November 2012

As foreign investors’ interest in Burma continues to grow, the country’s plastics industry could be the next sector to get a boost, according to a Burmese plastics factory manager, who said that Japanese businesses plan to set up joint ventures with local firms to export to Japan.

“Several Japanese plastic companies are offering to form a joint-venture. They said they can support [new] plastic production machinery and techniques,” said Hla Win, managing director of Lucky Bags plastic enterprise.

He said his company had already signed an agreement with a Japanese firm to produce an initial shipment of 13 metric tons of plastic bags for the Japanese market, adding that the details of a potential joint venture were still being discussed.

Hla Win cautioned however, that Burma’s poor infrastructure would continue to limit production capacity. “We still need infrastructure [improvements], mainly electricity supply. If we can get enough electricity to operate our industries, we can work better,” he said.

Japanese firms currently import plastic products from Malaysia, China, Vietnam and Malaysia, but are looking to shift their operations to countries with lower labor costs. They are now showing interest in Burma’s plastics industry, which until recently was off limits due to international sanctions.

Burma’s plastic industry currently imports raw materials from Malaysia and focuses on manual piecework to make simple plastic products, such as bags and kitchenware.

Myanmar Plastic Association Chairman U Tun said current manufacturing methods fail to produce export quality products, but foreign investment would help improve local production and introduce new technology.

“International plastic markets use more than 600 kinds of plastic produced with sophisticated technology. In Myanmar, we only use 40 kinds of plastic and none qualify as export products,” he said during a press conference at the International Machinery Industrial Fair 2012 in Rangoon on Monday. “But we intend to extend to [produce plastic for] export in the near future.”

U Tun said the upcoming International Machinery Industrial Fair on Dec. 21 to 24 would showcase a large number of different new plastic production technologies.