The Irrawaddy

Investor Interest Remains Steady as FDI Drops: MIC

NAYPYITAW — The Rakhine issue has no impact on foreign investors’ interest in Myanmar, said U Aung Naing Oo, the secretary of the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC).

The interest of potential foreign investors in Myanmar has not declined, U Aung Naing Oo told reporters, citing the record turnout at the Myanmar Global Investment Forum 2018 held in Naypyitaw on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“This year’s event attracted a record turnout. Last year, it attracted 1,200 people, which was a record turnout then. So, it is fair to say that the interest of foreign investors in our country has not declined. And we are amazed that the number increased by 300,” U Aung Naing Oo told reporters.

The Rakhine issue, however, did impact foreign direct investment, which declined by some US$900 million in the 2017-18 fiscal year compared to the previous year. The MIC hopes that this can be offset when Myanmar restores political stability, U Aung Naing Oo said.

Lawmaker U Aung Kyaw Kyaw Oo, secretary of the Lower House Investment and Industrial Development Committee, said that the investment of EU countries has declined primarily due to the Rakhine issue and that Myanmar must look to the east to attract investors.

Meanwhile, a shortage of skilled labor, lack of infrastructure and legal restrictions also create barriers for foreign investment, he said.

“The EU and the United States are planning to take action against Myanmar regarding the issues in Rakhine, which have impacted investment for political reasons,” the lawmaker said.

The MIC targeted that it would receive US$3 billion in the six months’ transitional budget from April 1 to Sept. 30. But it only received only about US$1.48 billion through August 31. Though US$400 million more is set to be approved in September, the target will not be met, said U Aung Naing Oo.

The manufacturing sector received most of the investment, followed by the service industry, telecommunications industry and property development industry, according to the MIC.

“We hope that the situation will improve in the next fiscal year. There are investors who are making inquiries with us. Some of them are big projects. So, we hope that we will be able to make a recovery next year,” said U Aung Naing Oo.

However, he admitted that exorbitant land prices and land disputes are a major problem for foreign investors. A government committee led by the vice president is working to enact a national land law, and land problems will be overcome then, he said.

Myanmar approved investment from 28 countries in the 2017-18 fiscal year, and China, the Netherlands, Japan, Korea, Britain and the United States were the biggest investors.

Since foreign investment was allowed in 1988, China, Singapore and Thailand have been the biggest investors in Myanmar, said the MIC.

The Myanmar Global Investment Forum 2018 was attended by ministers, local and foreign businesspeople and Sean Turnell, the economic advisor to State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.