The Irrawaddy Business Roundup (January 7)

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 7 January 2017

Telecoms to Grow by 4 Percent Annually

Burma’s telecoms services sector is expected to generate US$3.1 billion in revenue in 2017, according to a new report.

Annual growth in the sector over the next four years is predicted to be 4 percent, driven by expansion of network infrastructure and 4G services, the report by market research firm Wise Guy said.

Mobile data is set for significant growth and mobile revenue will account for 94.9 percent of the total telecom revenue by 2021, the report predicts.

While 4G is expanding, 3G is set to remain the most adopted mobile technology over the next few years as increasing numbers of customers migrate from 2G to 3G services.

Private Investment to Boost Agriculture

The agriculture sector is set for a boost with an advanced new rice mill due to begin operation in March, a report by the Nikkei publication said this week.

Rice exports will be increased with the opening of a large mill by Myanmar Agribusiness Public Corp (Mapco) in Kyaiklat in Ayeyarwady Division next March, the report said.

The US$6.66 million plant will be the largest in the country and will be capable of processing 450 tons of rice per day.

Mapco currently operates a mill in Naypyidaw with a daily capacity of 220 tons.

Mapco was founded with the backing of the government in 2012. It buys rice from local growers and then wholesales and exports the product.

While broken rice currently accounts for a large portion of Burma’s low-quality rice exports, the new plant will be able to produce parboiled rice, which has wider export appeal.

Mapco expects to be able to export some 100,000 tons of rice a year from the new mill, including to new markets such as the European Union, according to the report.

Japan’s KDDI Announces New CEO for Joint Venture with MPT

Japan’s KDDI has appointed a new CEO for its joint venture in Burma, which it operates with state-owned MPT, Mobile World reported.

Toshitake Amamiya was previously head of KDDI’s global business division. He replaces Takashi Nagashima, who was CEO of the joint venture since it was established in July 2014.

KDDI is Japan’s second-largest mobile operator.

Since rivals Telenor and Ooredoo entered the Burma mobile market in mid-2014, MPT has seen its market share drop from almost 100 percent to 44 percent. The three mobile operators will soon face another rival in Vietnam’s Viettel which won the fourth mobile license with a local consortium.

Assam Seeks Trade Route with Burma

In a bid to increase commerce and trade between India’s northeast and Southeast Asia, Assam is looking at developing an industrial corridor between its largest city Guwahati and Mandalay in Burma.

Assam State Industries Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said the link would benefit Assam and the entire northeast of India, at a meeting on the Council for Trade Development and Promotion in the state, the Assam Tribune reported.

“Discussion on various measures to promote trade from Assam and the Northeast was held and I emphasized the need to look at Assam as being central to ASEAN and South Asia and the Act East Policy for boosting trade. Focus should be on opening of traditional trade routes and building infrastructure,” Patowary said, stressing that the northeast states needed help in infrastructure development.

Smartphone Shipments to Burma Rise 26 Percent

Shipments of smartphones to Burma increased by 26 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of last year, to 2.5 million units in that quarter, according to global market intelligence firm IDC.

The growth was led by 4G-capable devices which expanded 41 per cent quarter-on-quarter during the period, the Mobile World website reported.

IDC expects Burma’s smartphone market to grow 9 percent in 2017, driven by relatively low smartphone penetration rate and rising disposable income, the report said.

Tourism Promotion Event for Rangoon

Burma’s tourism offerings will be showcased at the first International Tourism Expo Myanmar 2017, which will be held on January 20 to 22 at the Tatmadaw Exhibition Hall in Rangoon.

More than a hundred hotels, travel agencies, airlines, insurance companies and others related to the travel industry will have booths at the event under the auspices of the Myanmar Tourism Federation. Outbound and inbound travel will be featured at the event.