The Irrawaddy Business Roundup (August 13, 2016)

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 13 August 2016

International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) to Promote Arbitration Law

The ICC International Court of Arbitration will host workshops on arbitration—a technique for solving disputes outside of courts—for young lawyers during the third week of August. A seminar for the public will also be held.

Burma’s new Arbitration Law, passed in January 2016, provides for the enforcement of Burmese arbitration decisions in other countries, and vice versa, the event’s organizers said, adding that this paves the way for the development of a meaningful arbitration industry in Burma.

At the two-day workshop, leading practitioners will provide training focusing on the practical aspects of international arbitration and on the ICC Rules of Arbitration. The event will take place on August 18 and 19 at the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s (UMFCCI) head office in Lanmadaw Township, Rangoon. Participation is by invitation only. Due to the complexity of the content, the workshop is not considered suitable for absolute beginners.

The public seminar will be held at the same location on Saturday, August 20, and is open to everyone, including lawyers, academics and members of the business community, subject to prior registration.

Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business Submits First Report to UN

One of Burma’s primary sustainable business initiatives, the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB), announced this week that it had submitted its first Communication on Engagement (CoE)—a biannual report on the progress of the MCRB’s activities—to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), of which it has been a member since 2014.

MCRB director, Vicky Bowman, said in an August 11 press release that compiling the CoE “prompted us to reflect on whether the way we deliver [our work] programme respects the environment and human rights.”

In the statement, Bowman added that in the workshops MCRB has convened, waste management remains a top participant concern.

“This is true, whether we’re talking with faculty in Yadanabon University, or fishermen in Ngapali,” she said.

UNGC members must demonstrate a commitment to ten principles of human rights, fair labor, environmental sustainability and anti-corruption measures. In Burma, there are currently 352 members of the UNGC: 343 business members and nine non-business members, including the MCRB. There are over 22,000 members globally.

World Bank to Provide No-Interest US$100 Million Loan to Burma

Government employees’ salaries will not increase despite plans to take on a US$100 million loan from the World Bank, The Irrawaddy reported on Tuesday. The loan is aimed at reducing a state deficit by separating salaries from the budget.

In Tuesday’s Union Parliament session, Maung Maung Win, deputy minister of National Planning and Finance, confirmed that the World Bank’s International Development Association would provide Burma with a $100 million loan interest-free for 38 years starting in 2017.

“It’s a no-interest loan, but the service fees per year will be 0.75 percent of the total loan amount,” he said. Of this, $75 million is designated to go to the Ministry of Planning and Finance and $25 million is earmarked for Burma’s Central Bank.

In accordance with a plan for development set out to develop Burma’s financial sector, $60 million of the funds allocated for the finance and planning ministry will be used to provide monthly pay and allowances for civil servants. Other smaller sums are designated toward helping reform state-owned banks, developing microfinance, insurance and monetary systems in the country, and staff capacity building within the ministry.

Burma Plans to Ease Restrictions on Foreign Investors

The Nikkei Asian Review reported on Friday that Burma appears set to pass “a series of bills designed to ease restrictions on foreign capital” in order to attract investment from abroad.

The legislation created by the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) must be submitted to the central government. By the end of 2016, Burma’s Parliament will likely approve the new measures, said Aung Naing Oo, the director general of DICA.

Current laws in Burma designate a company as “foreign” if any of its stock shares are owned by a non-Burmese citizen, leading to significant restrictions. Newly proposed rules would consider a company as “foreign” only if 35 percent of its stock is owned by non-Burmese shareholders.

Rangoon-Based Food Delivery Service Expands to Mandalay and Naypyidaw

Yangon Door2Door, a food delivery service in the commercial capital of Rangoon, will open branches in Mandalay and Naypidaw this month, Deal Street Asia reported earlier in August.

The company was founded in 2012 by an Egyptian national, Shady Ramadan, who saw a business opportunity in the lack of food delivery available in the city. Yangon Door2Door utilizes a staff of 40 and a fleet of 27 bicycles and one car to bring food to customers.

Six months before the expansion of Yangon Door2Door was announced, BOD Tech, a local online company, gained a 50 percent equity investment in the delivery service.