Myanmar to Host Forum to Lure Foreign Investment in Deep South

By Nan Lwin 14 August 2019

YANGON—The Tanintharyi regional government is preparing to hold an investment forum to attract foreign investment to Myanmar’s southernmost region, which is rich in natural resources, particularly pearls and minerals, and home to many tourist destinations on the Andaman Sea coast and islands.

The Tanintharyi Investment Forum is set to be held from Oct. 26-27 in Myeik—the region’s major business hub—according to the Tanintharyi office of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA).

“We will mainly encourage investors to invest in the agriculture, livestock, fisheries, tourism and mining sectors during the forum,” Dr. Htoon Htoon, DICA’s deputy director general for Tanintharyi Region, told The Irrawaddy.

The regional government is planning to showcase more than 50 projects at the forum. Among the projects, the biggest are a mining and an airport project worth US$350 million (530.54 billion kyats) and $300 million respectively, according to DICA.  

“Those projects have already received approval from the Myanmar Investment Commission. We want to urge investors to invest in those existing projects,” Dr. Htoon Htoon said. 

State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Investment and Foreign Economic Relations Minister U Thaung Tun and Hotels and Tourism Minister U Ohn Maung are set to attend the forum in order to lure investors. 

Tanintharyi Region borders Mon State to the north and Thailand to the east. It occupies a long narrow coastal plain bounded by the Andaman Sea in the west, which runs to Kawthaung, the most southerly point of Myanmar. The coast is dotted with islands including the Mergui Archipelago, which is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, comprising more than 800 attractive islands.

The regional capital Dawei lies on the Southern Economic Corridor, a crucial component of Japan’s development strategy for Greater Mekong Subregion connectivity, which will link central Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand to southeastern Myanmar. Currently Myanmar, Japan and Thailand are planning to implement the $8-billion Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ), which is set to be Southeast Asia’s largest industrial complex. A key component of the project is a 196-square-kilometer deep seaport expected be a potential boon for firms currently relying on the transport of goods via the crowded Malacca Strait.

“We will also introduce new projects to investors. We have many projects in the pipeline. The mining department will also showcase their projects,” Dr. Htoon Htoon said.

Among the region’s already well-known mines are Heinda, Hamyingyi, Kanbauk, Yawa, Kyaukmetaung, Nanthida and Yadanabon.

A total of 12 hotel projects are currently being implemented by both local and foreign investors in the region. New Zealand and French investors are currently running hotel businesses on the islands in the Myeik Archipelago, according to DICA.

The regional government has launched community-based tourism schemes covering Dawei, Myeik and Kawthaung townships. Last year, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation allowed both foreign and local travelers to visit pearl farms in the Myeik Archipelago on the Andaman Sea.

In late July, U Thaung Tun and U Ohn Maung met with local businesspeople to discuss preparations for the Investment Forum. During the meeting, U Thaung Tun urged investors to consider sustainable and quality investment projects in the tourism sector.

The Tanintharyi Investment Forum is a part of the government plan’s to counteract a significant decline in foreign direct investment (FDI) in Myanmar over the past two fiscal years. In late January, the government showcased more than 120 regional and private business projects worth a total of over $3 billion at the Invest Myanmar Summit in Naypyitaw.

At that event, Tanintharyi showcased four major projects; construction of the Sin Phyu Pyinn Wholesale Fish market in Dawei; the Made in Myanmar-Sustainable Rubber Products project in Dawei, Myeik and Kawthaung; development of the Sepho River Side Hotel and Villa, along with a Sepho commercial zone and fresh market; and saltwater shrimp farming in Kawthaung.

This year, the government will hold investment forums for Yangon region, the country’s commercial capital, as well as Rakhine and Chin states, two of the poorest states in the country.

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