Thein Sein Helps Launch ‘Road Map’ for Burma Investors

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 28 February 2014

NAYPYIDAW — The UK-based Oxford Business Group consultancy and Burma’s government launched a report on Friday that aims to demystify Burma’s economy and in turn boost foreign investment in the long-isolated nation.

The Report: Myanmar 2014 offers a sector by sector analysis of Burma’s business landscape and charts the considerable interest that the country’s ore and gem reserves are generating among foreign companies.

The 200-page report looks at domestic industries including oil and gas, mining, agriculture, energy, finance, and other sectors, and draws its conclusions from interviews with leading political and business representatives including Burma’s President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Thein Sein and Union ministers attended the report’s launch at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyidaw on Friday.

Andrew Jeffreys, the CEO of the Oxford Business Group, said he was optimistic about prospects for the future Burma economy and confident that the report would help foreign investors by providing important and timely information on the country’s business landscape.

Soe Thane, a Union minister from the President’s Office, said the report would provide unrivaled insights to investors, analysts and the wider business community on the current state and future opportunities for the country’s economy.

“It serves as a road map as the economy continues to evolve with the landscape of our once-isolated nation, showing signs that it will one day return to its former glory,” Soe Thane said at the launch ceremony.

“I am confident it will help to position Myanmar globally as one of the leading investment destinations and will help stimulate private sector capital inflows into strategic projects,” he added.

The senior minister said the next five years would be decisive for Burma’s economic transformation, with the much talked about country having an opportunity to attract new global corporations as well as small and medium enterprises interested in local opportunities.

“The Myanmar Investment Commission plays the role of regulator and gatekeeper of foreign investment to Myanmar, and in the short run, the MIC has placed an emphasis on labor-intensive [industries] in order to create job opportunities,” Soe Thane said.

The report will be distributed worldwide through the Oxford Business Group at the hefty price of 104£ (US$173), with the group expecting circulation to reach between 70,000 and 100,000 copies.

Despite a grand launch ceremony attended by the president, the report itself is light on specific figures and policies, and mainly contains interviews with businesspeople and basic information targeted at investors who may be new to the country.

Aung Naing Oo, the director-general of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration, said he believed that the report would help foreigners hoping to learn more about Burma’s recent economic reforms before investing in the country, considered Southeast Asia’s last economic frontier.

“We have not had adequate communications and logistics capacity to disseminate [information] about our recent economic situation worldwide. We hope that OBG can help us to let FDI [foreign direct investors] know about us,” he said.

The Oxford Business Group (OBG) is a global research and consultancy firm that publishes economic reports on markets in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

Burma is often cited as an appealing investment prospect due to its strategic location as a bridge between Southeast Asia, China and the Indian subcontinent, and its largely untapped wealth of natural resources. Yet investors have appeared reluctant to commit money in recent years, despite Western governments’ decision to drop economic sanctions amid reforms in Burma largely lauded by the international community. The country’s dilapidated infrastructure is often cited as a primary inhibitor for foreign investors.

According to the government, FDI for the 2013-14 fiscal year beginning in April had reached $3.5 billion by the end of February.