Myanmar Reaches 98% of Foreign Investment Target in FY2020 Despite COVID-19

By Nan Lwin 27 October 2020

YANGON—Even as Myanmar struggles to get COVID-19 under control, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi announced that the country secured 98 percent of its foreign investment target for this year, adding that the result can be considered a success given the economic disruptions caused by the pandemic.

In a televised speech on Monday, the State Counselor assured Myanmar citizens that although the country is facing a severe challenge due to the coronavirus outbreak, her government is trying its best.

She said the strong level of foreign direct investment (FDI) was evidence that the National League for Democracy (NLD) government’s reform efforts were bearing fruit. “Despite the outbreak of COVID-19, we missed only 2 per cent of our target,” she said.

“Even if we could not fulfill the overall target, achieving 98 per cent is a considerable success amid the crisis,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said.

“Although our expectation was to achieve 100 per cent, since we achieved 98 per cent, we could say that this is quite a performance,” she stressed.

Under its Myanmar Investment Promotion Plan (MIPP), the government set a target to attract US$5.8 billion (7.46 trillion kyats) in fiscal year 2019-20, which ended on Sept. 30. It received nearly $5.7 billion—around $110 million short of its target. However, the amount represents an increase of more than $1 billion compared to the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations (MIFER). It translates into an average of $500 million per month in FDI during FY2019-20, despite the coronavirus epidemic, which first hit the country in March.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi stressed that in terms of FDI, Myanmar is performing better than some neighboring countries.

“Most of the neighboring countries have faced worse situations. I don’t mean any disrespect to other countries. I just want our people to understand,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said.

According to the  Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) latest report, Myanmar’s GDP growth fell to 1.8 percent in September due to the effects of COVID-19, while other countries in Southeast Asia are experiencing negative GDP growth. The ADB said Thailand’s GDP growth fell to -8 percent, while Cambodia’s stood at -4 percent, Indonesia’s at -1 percent and Laos’s at -2.5 percent.

The ADB also projected that Myanmar’s growth would bounce back to 6 percent in 2021, while projecting Thailand at 3.5 percent, Cambodia at 5.9 percent, Indonesia at 5.3 percent and Laos at 4.5 percent.

The World Bank’s latest survey on Myanmar found that 75 percent of services, retail, wholesale, manufacturing and agricultural firms have suffered due to COVID-19, despite some signs of recovery. It found that 81 percent of the firms were affected negatively by COVID-19 in May and 79 percent in July.

Recently, the Myanmar government revealed that it has been drawing up a medium- to long-term economic recovery and reform program that aims to maintain economic reforms introduced by the NLD. The Irrawaddy has learned the plan will include new strategies and reforms ranging from maintaining monetary stability and developing more SEZs and industrial zones in strategic areas and sectors, to mitigating economic shocks for the most vulnerable groups in the country.

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