Myanmar Opens Major Investment Summit in Naypyitaw

By The Irrawaddy 28 January 2019

NAYPYITAW — The Myanmar government opened a two-day investment summit in Naypyitaw on Monday aimed at drumming up interest in the country, showcasing some 120 projects worth more than $3 billion combined.

The Invest Myanmar Summit 2019, the country’s first, is part of the government’s efforts to counteract a significant decline in foreign direct investment (FDI) in Myanmar over the last two fiscal years.

A collaboration between the government and business community, the event aims to provide an opportunity for businesses to meet and for local and international investors to discuss the country’s investment potential.

More than 1,600 local and foreign delegates are expected to attend and 40 companies are exhibiting.

In her opening address, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said she was confident the summit would highlight the opportunities available to both local and foreign investors.

“The summit will provide you with the opportunity to explain Myanmar’s exciting and ever evolving investment market,” she told those in the audience with projects to sell.

The summit is an important part of the Myanmar Investment Promotion Plan (MIPP), which aims to attract more than $200 billion in investment from responsible and quality businesses over the next 20 years.

The MIPP was launched in October by the Myanmar Investment Commission and outlines four strategic periods for attracting FDI. It aims to attract an average of $8.5 billion a year by 2026, $12.3 billion by 2031 and $17.6 billion by 2036.

The government believes FDI is a key driver of economic development and is committed to developing an open, fair and clear investment policy, according to the MIPP. It wants to foster long-term growth by focusing investment in four areas: export-oriented industries; domestic market-oriented industries, resource-based industries and knowledge-based industries.

The countries and territories being targeted during this week’s summit include China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, India, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Given Myanmar’s strategic location between India and China and its access to the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said, the country can help connect regional markets to international trade routes.

“With our advantageous geographical location, relatively low labor costs, and the enormous potential of our people, it’s the best time for grasping the opportunity that will arise as the global pendulum swings from West to East,” she said.

Ten of Myanmar’s states and regions are participating in the event: Karen, Chin, Mon, Rakhine, Shan, Yangon, Sagaing, Mandalay, Irrawaddy and Tanintharyi. The industries being targeted include manufacturing, garments, electricity and energy, tourism, education, food processing and fisheries, health care, infrastructure and property.

Following the opening ceremony on Monday, Myanmar’s Great Wall Foodstuff and Hong Kong International Sugar Engineering inked a memorandum of understanding for a $200 million investment in a sugar mill and biomass plant in Katha Township, Sagaing Region. The plans call for the mill to produce 10,000 tons of sugar a day and for the plant to churn out 60 MW of electricity.

The Myanmar Investment Commission said the slowdown in investment in Myanmar was due to ongoing concern about the country’s political stability, weak macroeconomics, residual investment restrictions and uncertain investment approval procedures. It said there was a lack of skilled labor and investment promotion and that infrastructure, the financial sector and the business regulatory systems were underdeveloped.

The government projects Myanmar’s gross domestic product to reach 106 trillion kyats by 2021, 152.17 trillion kyats by 2026, 218.47 trillion kyats by 2013 and 313.64 trillion kyats by 2036.

The MIPP also hopes to make improvements to the business environment that will raise Myanmar’s rank in the World Bank’s ease-of-doing-business index into the top 100 by 2020 and the top 40 by 2035. Myanmar’s 2018 ranking was 171 while Laos ranked 141, Cambodia 135 and the Philippines 113.