The Irrawaddy Business Roundup (October 29)

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 29 October 2016

Govt committee to oversee inward investment

A government committee will be formed to manage matters concerning international investment into Burma, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has said.

As the country opens up and rising numbers of development partners and business groups seek to operate in Burma, the committee will help manage and supervise suitable activities.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will chair the committee and U Kyaw Win, Minister of National Planning and Finance, will be the vice chair.

The State Counselor told members of the business community in Naypyidaw last week that international assistance in Burma needed to be used effectively, and deployed in suitable arenas.

Information on how assistance was being used should also be transparent, she said.

‘‘Detailed plans will be released to the public soon,’’ the State Counselor added.

MPT offering wide job opportunities

Telecoms company MPT is offering ‘‘hundreds of job opportunities’’ at a job fair in Rangoon on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 October, the company said.

More than 100 vacancies will be offered across several departments at the MPT Job Fair 2016, including positions for team mangers, senior personnel and general staff in areas such as sales and distribution, marketing, information technology and operations.

The state-owned MPT has partnered with Japanese mobile operator KDDI and global company Sumitomo Corporation since 2014.

Yoshiaki Benino, chief operating officer for the MPT-KSGM joint operation, said in a statement, “MPT needs fantastic talent to work in a variety of roles, and we are proud to offer opportunities for Myanmar people to develop their careers.”

Japan’s JFE Engineering to invest in power plant

Japanese company JFE Engineering will work with the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) to build a waste-to-energy 700-kilowatt power plant, the Dealstreet Asia website reported.

JFE aims to start a test run of the plant in January 2017 while production is aimed to start the following April at the plant whose total investment, shared with the YCDC, is around US$16 million, according to the website.

The Japanese company is serving as an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor for the plant, which will run on raw material waste from suburban areas of Rangoon including Shwe Pyi Thar, Insein, North Okkalapa and Mingaladon townships.

The plant is expected to supply at least 300 kilowatts of electricity to the national grid line.

JFE is also working on a waste water treatment project in Dala and Twante and is involved in over-bridge projects in Yangon.

Hotel group receives IFC loans

The locally-owned Amata hotel group has received convertible loans worth US$13.5 million from the International Finance Corporation, an arm of the World Bank, Eleven Media reported.

The loan will help the group’s expansion plans which include new hotels in Bagan and Inle Lake, according to Win Aung, chief executive officer of Amata group.

“Providing a loan to a local firm is a way of supporting Myanmar’s economic growth. It will definitely provide employment opportunities for local residents, particularly women and youth,’’ Win Aung said.

Amata is also reported to be planning to build international-standard hotels in the Myeik archipelago, subject to the approval of the Myanmar Investment Commission.

Win Aung added that the group planned to introduce a new mid-range hotel brand, Awinka, in 10 different cities in the coming months.

‘‘Our target customers are both local and foreign visitors who want to enjoy good services at a reasonable price,’’ he said.

Vietnam’s Zalo messaging app seeks higher market share

Burma has two million users of the Zalo messaging app launched by Vietnamese company VNG, according to a report in a Vietnamese media outlet quoting the company’s vice president Vuong Quang Khai.

VNG launched the Zalo app in 2012 and it has since become the most-downloaded mobile messaging app on Android and iOS in Vietnam, Khai told VnExpress.

Roughly two-thirds of Vietnam’s current smart phone users chat via Zalo, according to the report.

Burma is Zalo’s first overseas market. The company aims to increase its market share in the country and has developed the app to cope with spotty 3G infrastructure and bargain mobile phones. Its marketing strategy includes enlisting celebrity spokespeople.

Viber, Line, Kakao Tak and WeChat are among the other messaging apps that are competing for market share across Southeast Asia.

EIA: Illegally imported Burma timber entering the EU

The UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has claimed that Burmese teak is being illegally imported into the European Union, following a two-month investigation.

During its probe the EIA posed as buyers and approached nine timber importers working in five EU countries. The EIA reported that companies consistently failed to pinpoint the source of the teak they were importing.

Several companies called the allegations unfounded, and argued they could not be held accountable for problems in a supply chain controlled by the Burma government, according to a report in the Mongabay website.

The Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE) controls all timber for export from Burma.

An agent of one company, Teak Solutions, told the EIA, “We have no control over what the MTE offers for sale. We must assume that they are from the area they say and that they are legally cut.”

The MTE did not respond to emails from Mongabay requesting comment.