Irrawaddy Business Roundup

By Nan Lwin 3 October 2020

YANGON — Myanmar’s government enforced stricter stay-at-home orders in Yangon on Monday and banned all but essential travel between townships. Those working in food distribution, health care and banks are using government-issued QR passes to move around.

Amid the economic slowdown, the government said it is drafting a recovery and reform program to maintain economic reforms introduced by the National League for Democracy (NLD). Also during this week, one of Thailand’s largest banks announced that it would open in Myanmar after securing a Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) license.

Cross-border trade with northern Thailand this week resumed normally after a two-week suspension due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Elsewhere, Myanmar’s embassy in Beijing has announced that it plans to export high-quality traditional food to China to help independent businesses recover from the pandemic.

Recovery program being prepared

Myanmar’s government is drawing up a medium- to long-term economic recovery and reform program that aims to maintain the NLD’s economic reforms, according to the Ministry for Investment and Foreign Economic Relations (MIFER).

MIFER minister U Thaung Tun on Sunday wrote an article in the state media headlined: “COVID-19 Crisis: We will recover and build back better.” He detailed the government’s latest measures and response plans to cushion the impact of coronavirus.

U Thaung Tun said the Myanmar Economic Recovery and Reform Program will focus on comprehensive and inclusive recovery and reform.

He said the program would prioritize environmental sustainability to create a truly sustainable recovery.

Siam Commercial Bank to open in Myanmar  

One of Thailand’s largest banks, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), is to set up a bank in Myanmar after receiving a subsidiary business license from the CBM, according to the Bangkok Post.

It said the move is a part of an ambitious plan to expand its offline and online platforms into the neighboring countries. The SCB fully owns the subsidiary registered as Siam Commercial Bank Myanmar Ltd. The bank said it plans to invest in retail and digital banking in Myanmar.

Thai border trade resumes 

Border trade between Myanmar and Thailand has resumed nearly two weeks after COVID-19 restrictions were imposed.

The Chiang Rai chamber of commerce announced that trade between Tachileik Township in Shan State and Mae Sai District in Chiang Rai Province resumed smoothly.

The Thai authorities prohibited vehicles from Myanmar from crossing the border. The Thai side was accused of failing to discuss the restrictions with officials in Myanmar. In response, Myanmar imposed similar measures on Thai vehicles.

Both sides agreed to revive trade after a series of bilateral discussions.

China to buy quality food from Myanmar 

Myanmar’s Embassy in Beijing has announced that Chinese businesses are interested in buying high-quality traditional food from Myanmar after it launched a China-Myanmar Economic Cooperation and Development Forum in China’s Fujian Province.

The embassy said traditional snacks such as peanut butter, biscuits, coffee and other beverages would be exported to China.

The embassy said it was looking to boost food exports to China as a part of Myanmar’s export promotion plan.

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