Myanmar Confident About Reaching Investment Target, Despite COVID-19

By Nan Lwin 16 June 2020

YANGON — Myanmar’s trade minister said he is confident foreign direct investment (FDI) will meet the government target for this fiscal year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a live address on the economy and recovery plan, the minister for investment and foreign economic relations (MIFER), U Thaung Tun, said Myanmar received US$4.15 billion (5.8 trillion kyats) in FDI during 2018-19. The country approved $4.39 billion (6.1 trillion kyats) in FDI the first eight months of this fiscal year that began in October.

Based on investment data U Thaung Tun said: “I believe that the [FDI] target will be met during this fiscal year.”

The investment target is $5.8 billion (8 trillion kyats), according to the ministry.

“Given the potential of Myanmar’s investment opportunities, we expect investment will continue to flow in the post-COVID-19 period,” U Thaung Tun said.

The Myanmar Invest Commission (MIC) recently approved industrial projects proposed by investors from Thailand and South Korea to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and to create jobs for those who have been laid off because of coronavirus, according to MIFER.

MIC said it was reviewing investment proposals from Singapore – which is often used as a conduit for international investment in Myanmar – but the minister did not give the details.

According to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA), as of May 31, Singapore was the largest investor, representing nearly 27 percent of total investments. China came second followed by Thailand and Hong Kong.

“It is very important to obtain a heavy flow of investment to revive the economy. We are inviting qualified, responsible investments,” Thaung Tun said.

Myanmar has faced a significant economic slowdown because of COVID-19 since late February. A nationwide survey on the impacts of COVID-19 by the Asia Foundation said nearly two-thirds of businesses in Myanmar expected to face cash flow problems, putting their survival at risk as government emergency loans have reached only a fraction of businesses.

The deputy planning, finance and industry minister, U Set Aung, told people to expect a significant COVID-19 impact on the economy this year. But the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan (CERP) had been prepared to ease the impact, he said.

Launched in late April, the CERP focuses on improving the macroeconomic environment through monetary stimulus; easing the impact on the private sector through improvements to investment, trade and banking; assisting laborers, workers and households; promoting innovative products and platforms; strengthening the health care system; and increasing access to COVID-19 response financing, including contingency funds.

State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said the government is prepared to face possibly the worst economic conditions this year.

U Thaung Tun suggested Myanmar promotes and upgrades its agricultural sector to boost food exports after COVID-19.

U Zaw Min Win, president of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, called on the government to provide more loans to businesses and listen to employers when planning the economic recovery.

He called for a joint export promotion team between the government and employers to prioritize investment opportunities and create jobs with frequent negotiations between the government and business to address COVID-19.

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