Myanmar to Launch Investment Policy Review

By Nan Lwin 25 June 2020

YANGON—Myanmar has finalized its second Investment Policy Review (IPR) with the help of the France-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to identify further policy reforms needed to make the country a more attractive destination for quality, responsible investment for both foreign and local investors.

At a press conference in Naypyitaw on Wednesday, the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations (MIFER), U Aung Naing Oo, said the ministry and the OECD completed a final review process on Tuesday.

The OECD’s review provides Myanmar with a comprehensive overview of global and regional investment trends, policies and practices affecting Myanmar’s investment climate, according to the MIFER.

The permanent secretary said the latest policy review identified investment policies that need to be improved and reforms that need to be worked on, and also makes clear what needs to be done to pursue more investment.

U Aung Naing Oo said the IPR is expected to published during the next three months.

In a press release, MIFER said it welcomed the review’s findings and noted that investment policies have been revised to ensure a level playing field for all investors and to create a favorable, predictable and friendly investment climate in the country.

Myanmar conducted its first IPR in 2014, covering areas such as investment promotion and facilitation, financial sector reform, infrastructure development and responsible business conduct. It pushed a range of key investment-oriented reforms, including the drafting of the Myanmar Investment Law and the Myanmar Companies Law, according to the MIFER.

The MIFER said the second IPR would cover additional areas such as connectivity; investment frameworks that support green growth; fostering secure and well-defined land rights; and enhancing the role of economic zones.

Since the National League for Democracy (NLD) took office in 2016, it has implemented several economic reforms including passing a new Companies Law in 2018 and launching an online company registration system to boost confidence among foreign investors.

However, Myanmar faced a significant decline in foreign investment from US$9.5 billion (13.22 trillion kyats) in fiscal 2015-16 to $6.6 billion in 2016-17 and $5.7 billion in 2017-18 after Western investors turned away from the country due to the Rohingya crisis.

In October 2018, the country introduced the Myanmar Investment Promotion Plan (MIPP), which aims to attract more than $200 billion in investment from responsible businesses over the next 20 years. MIPP projects are expected to receive $8.5 billion from fiscal 2021-22 to 2025-26; $12.3 billion from 2026-27 to 2030-31; and $17.6 billion from 2031-32 to 2035-36.

Since late 2018, Myanmar has held investment and business forums both abroad and at home, with Japan, South Korea, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore among Asian countries, and the US, UK, Czech, Hungary and Australia among Western nations. The government organized a Union-level investment summit in Naypyitaw and four major investment forums in Yangon and Mandalay regions, and in Rakhine and Chin states, inviting both local and foreign investors to attend.

In the World Bank’s latest ease of doing business ranking, Myanmar moved up six places to 165th. The bank cited several reforms including an easier environment for starting a business and greater protections for minority investors.

In the first eight months of FY2018-19, which began in October, Myanmar received $4.15 billion and approved $4.39 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI). As of Wednesday, the MIC had approved a total of 1.3 trillion kyats worth of local investment so far this fiscal year.

Last week, Union Minister for Investment and Foreign Economic Relations U Thaung Tun said Myanmar was on track to meet its FDI target of $5.8 billion for this fiscal year based on current data. He said securing a steady flow of investment would be crucial to reviving the country’s economy, which has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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