The Irrawaddy

Govt Issues Operating Procedures for Wholesalers, Retailers

People shop at a City Mart outlet in Yangon.

YANGON — The Commerce Ministry on Monday released standing operating procedures for wholesalers and retailers of foreign and local products.

The procedures were adopted after the government gave the green light to foreign and joint-venture companies to wholesale and retail foreign and local products in Myanmar in May.

“The procedures aim to make sure local small and medium enterprises are not affected by foreign wholesalers and retailers,” said Trade Department Director-General U Yan Naing Tun.

He said preparations were being made since 2013 to allow wholly foreign owned companies run wholesale and retail companies in Myanmar.

“This will allow the supply of goods at lower prices for consumers. At the same time, there will be more wholesalers for retailers to choose from,” he added.

Items allowed for wholesale and retail include locally produced or imported consumer products, foodstuffs, produce, marine products, animal products, soft drinks and locally produced liquor, according to the Commerce Ministry.

“It is good that the standing operating procedures are issued so that they will provide a level playing field for both local businessmen and foreign investors. But we’ve asked [the ministry] to carefully regulate the trading sector. It is very important for us,” said U Myo Min Aung, vice chairman of the Myanmar Retailers Association.

Foreign companies with a minimum capital of $5 million excluding land rent are allowed to engage in wholesale, and those with a minimum capital of $3 million are allowed to engage in retail, according to the Commerce Ministry.

Joint ventures must invest a minimum $2 million for wholesale and a minimum $700,000 for retailing, and Myanmar citizens must hold at least 20 percent of the shares.

There is no minimum investment for companies wholly owned by Myanmar citizens.

However, it said minimarts and convenience stores with less than 929 square meters of floor space could not have any foreign investors.

“This is good for local businessmen,” said U Myo Min Aung.

The Commerce Ministry also requires that locally owned companies already in operation and that made an initial investment of at least $700,000 must reregister and submit detailed business plans. U Myo Min Aung said these requirements would be “a burden.”

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.