The Irrawaddy Business Roundup (November 12)

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 12 November 2016

Thilawa Attracts New Investments

A variety of new investments at the Thilawa Special Economic Zone have been reported by Dealstreet Asia this week.

Two Thai companies received a green light from the government to invest in the manufacture of fertilizers in the economic zone south of Rangoon.

The Thai Central Chemical Public Co. will invest US$12.5 million in manufacturing, importing and trading in fertilizers, while the CPP Fertiliser Co. Ltd will invest $10.5 million in the same sector.

Japan’s Taiyo Nippon Sanso has secured approval to invest $11.29 million in the manufacturing and wholesale supply of oxygen, nitrogen and argon in the economic zone, and Buhler Myanmar will invest $5.2 m to import and assemble milling machinery for the rice, flour, bean and pulses and feed sectors, Dealstreet reported.

Taiwanese E-Sun Bank Opens Rangoon Office

Taiwan’s E-Sun bank opened a branch at the Myanmar Plaza in Rangoon’s Bahan Township this week after receiving a foreign banking license earlier this year.

President of the E-Sun commercial bank Joseph Huang told The Irrawaddy that “a diversity of Taiwanese businesses, especially manufacturers” are interested in investing in Burma. “That’s why we have opened here,” he said.

The E-Sun bank will invest a total of $75 million in Burma. Of that, $40 million will be deposited in the Central Bank and the remaining $35 million will be working for Taiwanese business, Huang said.

The Rangoon branch will provide services such as deposits, remittances, letters of credit, lending and foreign exchange transactions for foreign businesspersons.

Burma and Bangladesh Discuss Cooperation

Bangladesh is due to send a proposal to Burma to establish a Preferential Trade Agreement, the Financial Express reported.

The proposal comes on the heel of the eighth meeting of the Bangladesh-Myanmar Joint Trade Commission, which ended on Thursday this week after a gap of two years.

The two countries agreed to hold regular meetings of a Joint Working Group of trade officials, while acknowledging that current bilateral trade between the neighboring countries is not at a satisfactory level.

Among other items on the agenda, the sides agreed to undertake measures to promote trade, through trade fairs and visits by business people between the two countries.
Cooperation over banking, coastal shipping, and in oil, gas and mineral resources were also on the agenda, the Dhaka-based paper reported.

Imports to Bangladesh from Burma of hydroelectric power as well as pulses, food grains, timber and other items were also discussed, it added.

Karenni State Promoted at World Travel Mart

Little-visited Karenni State was promoted as a new tourism destination at the World Travel Market held in London this week.

The launch of Karenni State as a tourist destination is the result of a collaboration between the International Trade Centre (ITC) and Myanmar Tourism Marketing, according to a report published on a Thai travel website. 

Since 2014, the ITC, in partnership with the Myanmar Ministry of Hotels and Tourism and the Ministry of Commerce, has helped to develop new cultural and nature tourism products the state.

The “inclusive tourism” project aims to contribute to reducing poverty by creating jobs in the tourism sector.

The project, supported by the Government of the Netherlands, plans to develop new community tours as well as cultural performances, handicraft production and cooking.

Burma is still emerging as a world tourism destination. The main entry point to the country, Yangon International Airport, opened a new $660 million terminal in March.

BGF Threatens to Close Thai Border Outposts

The Karen Border Guard Force has threatened to close parts of its side of the border with Thailand after a dispute with Thai authorities, the Bangkok Post reported.

Thai authorities are planning to strictly enforce the border crossing opening hours of 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. from Wednesday, November 16, but the Karen Border Guard Force (BGF) wants less rigid opening times.

The BGF has said it could close its side of the border in areas from Mae Sot in Thailand’s Tak Province to Three Pagodas Pass in Kanchanaburi.

The Bangkok Post quoted the BGF head as saying; “I don’t want that to happen, but as talks did not lead to an understanding, [the border] will be closed.”

Other crossing points not controlled by the BGF, such as Mae Sai in Thailand’s north and Ranong in the south, will not be affected.