Thursday, 24 July 2014

Japan seeks opportunity in Dawei SEZ

Japanese officials from the ministry of economy, trade and industry met with the committee chairperson of the Dawei Special Economic Zone on July 20 to discuss investing in the project.

The Dawei Special Economic Zone project was to be carried out by the Italian-Thai Development Plc (ITD) but was halted after the company sought more international backing and financing. 

“The Japanese government intends to invest in the Dawei SEZ project. The meeting was about current situation of the project,” said a high ranking official for the ministry of rail transportation.

Vietnam banks compete for licenses to operate in Myanmar

VietNamNet Bridge – The Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) is the only Vietnamese bank of 25 foreign banks that have an opportunity to received one of 10 licenses in Myanmar.

The Central Bank of Myanmar has announced a list of 25 banks for the next round, of the 30 banks that have applied for a business license. These banks will continue to compete for the final 10 licenses. The winners will be announced next month.

"The Licensing Committee will evaluate each profile based on detailed quantitative and qualitative criteria. We will analyze their development plans to choose the appropriate names," Myanmar Times quoted the press release from Myanmar Central Bank.

Myanmar planning nuclear reactor for ‘research’, minister says

Myanmar is planning to build nuclear reactors for research purposes after it develops the expertise required to run one safely, Union Minister for Science and Technology Ko Ko Oo told Parliament yesterday. 

He was responding to a question from Upper House MP Myint Kyi, who asked if there were any plans to build a nuclear power station for research. 

“Some assume that use of nuclear energy is dangerous, but there are advantages if it is correctly used,” Ko Ko Oo said. “We need a nuclear reactor for research use as it is very useful in various fields, such as health, agriculture and livestock breeding. To develop nuclear technology, infrastructure is also necessary to prevent radiation and proliferation of nuclear weapons. We are trying to develop human resources to acquire nuclear technology,” he added. 

TAITRA hosts auto parts show in Myanmar

The second Auto Expo Myanmar hosted by Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) kicked off July 18 at Tatmadaw Exhibition Hall in Yangon.

Co-organized by TAITRA and Taiwan’s Chan Chao International Enterprise Group, the four-day international automobile parts and components show features 146 booths by 97 firms from eight countries. These include Taiwan, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, U.K., U.S., Vietnam and mainland China.

“Our debut in Myanmar last year featured the dual themes of auto parts and electromechanical equipment,” TAITRA Executive Vice President Walter Yeh said. “This year, we are focusing on a single theme and it has paid off, attracting even more visitors to the expo.”

Denmark to assist Myanmar education sector

Denmark will provide a grant aid to Myanmar’s five-year development project with emphasis on the education sector.

“The roadmap to assist Myanmar is under planning, especially in education sector. The five-year development project will kick off by 2016 and Denmark will coordinate with NGOs and CSOs in Myanmar,” said Mikael HemnitiWinther, Denmark ambassador to Myanmar.

Under the assistance programme, activities of NGOs in Myanmar will be reviewed to ensure the aids are progressive.

Myanmar-based DMCs get digital upgrades

THE upgrading of Myanmar's data networks by new telecomms companies in the country are facilitating DMCs' own systems upgrade with many turning to software-based solutions to handle bookings.

A spokesperson from a Yangon-based travel agency who wished to remain anonymous, remarked: “Myanmar’s recent opening resulted in more bookings, and therefore we need a software that can handle this increased workload.”

Such software would allow travel consultants selling packages to perform faster single and cross-country package calculations, as compared to doing them manually.

Kyaukpyu-Kunming railway's cancelled due to public disapproval

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the Ministry of Rail Transportation and China for the Kyaukpyu-Kunming railway project has expired, according to the Ministry of Rail Transportation.

Myint Wai, manager of the Ministry of Rail Transportation, said on Friday that China has not made any requests to sign another contract and the project will not be implemented due to objections from the people and social organisations in Myanmar.

According to the MOU signed on April 2011, the Kyaukpyu-Kunming railway project was expected to be implemented within three years, but no work has been carried out for the project up to April 2014. As the MOU has expired, it is not valid anymore, according to him.

Thai banks step up push for licences in Myanmar

ALL FOUR THAI banks in Myanmar are intensifying their efforts to secure banking licences in the belief that opening up of the industry will proceed despite opposition for local players.

Representatives of Kasikornbank (KBank) and Krungthai Bank (KTB) recently joined conferences in Yangon, speaking their minds on what their banks have to offer to the economy, while Bangkok Bank (BBL), Thailand's largest commercial bank, hosted an investment seminar in Yangon designed to be the centre stage for Asian investors wanting to enter the Myanmar market.

Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) also brought in Myanmar experts to its "Myanmar 360-degree First Talk" seminar for 500 premium Thai customers with strong interest in expanding into the new market. They are part of the 25 foreign banks shortlisted for the licences, with potentially five to 10 to be awarded by year-end.

State airline to expand flights to Asia

The state-owned Myanma Airways is planning to expand its flights to to South Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan by early 2015. 

The airline has hired Avia Solutions, from the U.S.-based General Electric Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) as an advisory body. Officials from the airline and company representatives have been holding a weekly conference call to see how to manage the airline’s expansion.

Myanma Airways, the one and only state-owned airline, has been in business since September 1948. The airline recently signed a lease for six Boeing 737-800 jets and four Boeing 737-8 with GECAS last February in Singapore. 

Ooredoo announces distributors for Burma mobile rollout

Ooredoo, one of two international telecoms operating in Burma, announced distributors for its low-cost mobile devices on Friday. The Qatari company pledges to provide affordable devices and SIM cards to the country and has already integrated itself into Burma’s growing tech scene ahead of the product roll-out.

The six companies named as distributors in a press release that went out at the end of last week were: Great Ayerwaddy Telecoms Company Limited, MDG Mobile Company Limited, Capital Connect Limited, Kiwi & I Co. Limited, and MDR Golden Myanmar Sea Co. Limited. These companies are “exclusive, territory specific distributors,” according to the release, and “are currently signing up hundreds of dealers within townships across their territories.”

Foreign telecom companies to introduce SIM cards

Foreign telecom companies, Ooredoo and Telenor are preparing to launch the sale of their new SIM cards in August and September, according to company sources.

Although Ooredoo Myanmar originally said it will begin in August, they may even begin earlier, while Telenor are plying for time and will launch as planned in September. 

“We don’t know when the sale will be. But I am certain that it is nearer,” said Ooredoo Myanmar’s information manager Thiri Kyarnyo.

As of July all Ooredoo staff are already using SIM cards with numbers starting with 0997 which includes internet subscription but they can use only internally.

ASEAN senior economic officials meeting underway in Myanmar

YANGON, July 20 (Xinhua) -- A three-day ASEAN senior economic officials meeting is underway in Yangon to make preparations for an ASEAN economic ministers meeting scheduled for August, meeting sources said Sunday.

The ASEAN Senior Economic Officials Meeting, first hosted by Myanmar and began on Saturday, was participated by delegates from ASEAN countries and dialogue partners and the Deputy Secretary- General of ASEAN.

The Saturday meeting discussed matters related to the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) , progress in integration of priority sector and reports which are going to be submitted to the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting, ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) Council Meeting, AEC Council Meeting and ASEAN Investment Area (AIA) Council Meeting.

MPT to begin selling unlimited SIM cards

The state-owned Myanmar Post and Telecommunications (MPT) said it will start selling unlimited SIM cards rather than a limited number by lucky draw, according to senior managers.

MPT has signed MoU with KDDI Corporation from Japan to compete with overseas telecommunication companies and provide enhanced mobile services.

“We are planning to change the sale plan of CDMA 800 MHz and GSM SIM cards. When we have finished making arrangements, we will announce the time to start it,” said General Manager Khin Maung Tun from MPT.

India eyes cooperation with Myanmar's energy sector

YANGON, July 18 (Xinhua) -- India is seeking cooperation in the energy sector with Myanmar, state media reported Friday.

A meeting on energy cooperation was held on Thursday in Nay Pyi Taw, with the participation of Myanmar Minister for Environmental Conservation and Forestry U Win Tun and Indian Ambassador to Myanmar Gautam Mukhopadhaya, said the New Light of Myanmar.

Both sides focused on the use of renewable energy and various energy, as well as drawing of energy policy and procedures.

Burma’s Oil Production Tipped to Decline; Fuel Imports to Increase

Burma will become increasingly dependent on imported crude oil and refined fuels over the next ten years because of a lack of planning and investment, an industry report has forecast.

A rise in crude oil imports is highly likely in spite of an expected upsurge in onshore and offshore exploration in coming years, while underinvestment in refining capacity will necessitate more imports of petrol and diesel, said Business Monitor International (BMI) in a study of Burma’s energy resources. BMI is an international business risks analysis company based in London.

“We see production steadily declining for the next 10 years as no major plan to boost condensate [a form of light oil] output from offshore gas fields has been announced or even discussed,” said BMI.

Myanmar to host 36th Asean ministerial meeting

Myanmar will host the 36th Association for Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry in September, officials said Saturday.

The meetings are scheduled to take place from Sept 20 to 26, Xinhua reported..

The topic on sustainable markets and financial investment in the agricultural sector will be discussed during the meetings for the sustainable development of agricultural production among the 10 Asean countries.

At a meeting in Nay Pyi Taw Friday, Minister for Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development U Ohn Myint stressed on the importance of discussing methods to ease poverty in villages and improve nutrition of rural people.

Bangkok Bank Pledges to Bring Thai Investors to Burma

RANGOON — Thailand’s Bangkok Bank, one of 25 foreign institutions awaiting permission to operate in Burma, has said it will bring more Thai investors into the country.

One of Thailand’s four largest banks, Bangkok Bank has had a representative office in Rangoon since 1994.

Speaking in Rangoon on Friday, Bangkok Bank Executive Vice President Chaiyarit Anuchitworawong said the bank was among the 25 foreign organizations hoping to be granted a banking license in Burma.

“We still don’t know when they will exactly allow us, but now we’re connecting with the Thai businesses and local people as well,” Chaiyarit said.

Myanmar major private bank to launch online banking services soon

YANGON, July 18 (Xinhua) -- A Myanmar major private bank, the Kanbawza Bank, will launch online and mobile banking services soon and a U.S.-based information security company, RSA, will provide protection to its customers from online fraud and cyber threats, according to the bank on Friday.

RSA is the security division of EMC, which is an American multinational corporation.

With more than 200 branches across the country, the Kanbawza Bank has been granted an authorised dealers license by the Central Bank of Myanmar in 2011 to operate foreign banking business.

The bank started with an initial capital of 477 million Kyats ( nearly 500,000 U.S. dollars) in 1999 and has expanded its capital to 113 billion Kyats (117 million U.S. dollars) in 2014, the bank disclosed.

KBZ Bank picks up another award for excellence

Kanbawza Bank was named Best Bank in Myanmar by the UK-based financial markets magazine Euromoney at a ceremony in Hong Kong on July 17, following two awards a week earlier from a regional banking association.

KBZ chairperson Aung Ko Win and director Nan Lai Kham attended the Awards for Excellence 2014 ceremony to receive the award, along with executives from 52 banks in 36 countries.

Since fiscal year 2011-2012, the bank has paid income tax of more than Ks 50 billion. The bank paid income tax of over Ks 6 billion in FY2011-12, nearly Ks 11 billion in FY2012-13 and more than Ks 17 billion in FY2013-14. It has paid Ks 16 billion in advance tax for FY2014-15 and is expected to pay up to Ks 22 billion for the year. 

Myanmar to Grant Licenses to Foreign Banks

Myanmar is preparing to grant as many as 10 foreign bank licenses next month, a senior government official said, allowing overseas lenders to start doing business in the country after decades of being frozen out.

But to protect domestic banks, recipients of the coveted licenses will be limited to banking for foreign corporations and foreign-exchange services, according to people close to the licensing process.

Foreign banks, they said, will be limited to one branch, won't be permitted to operate a retail-banking business, and will be allowed to lend only in foreign exchange, and not in the local currency, the kyat.

Apex and FMI pending approval to begin domestic flights

Private airlines Apex and FMI are waiting for approval from the Myanmar Investment Commission to begin domestic flights, according to the department of aviation.

Both will be focusing to fly the Nay Pyi Taw to Yangon route, providing an alternative for government workers and officials to the dangers of road travel.

“Many requirements are needed to establish a new airline. The priority is Air Operation Certificate (AOC). In order to get an issuance of AOC, many steps and information needs to be filled out. Another fact is passenger safety. Upon all necessary items and information, AOC will be granted,” said Win Swe, director general for the aviation department.

Japanese Mobile Carrier To Pioneer Myanmar's Growing Mobile Market

Major Japanese mobile carrier KDDI Corp. (TYO:9433) is partnering with Japanese trading company Sumitomo Corp. (TYO:8053) to invest about $2 billion in Myanmar’s state-owned telecommunication business over the next decade, when the country’s telecommunications sector is expected to grow rapidly, the companies said Wednesday.

The two companies signed a deal Wednesday with state-owned Myanmar Post & Telecommunications to jointly operate a mobile phone network in the country, which is opening up to investment after decades of military rule.

About 10 percent of 65 million Myanmar residents use mobile phones, KDDI said, but demand is expected to greatly increase. KDDI and Sumitomo already operate the largest share of a growing mobile market in Mongolia.

International call charges high, say IT technicians

The international outbound roaming rates remain high and unacceptable, say consumers and IT technicians.

Myanmar Post and Telecommunication introduced the system to take effect since July 2 with roaming charges ranging from Ks 3,500 to Ks 5,000.

The users can call to Thailand, Singapre, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Japan, South Korea, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Belgium, Luxemburg, Romania, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Qatar, UK, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Moldavia, France, Papua New Guinea and Germany.

Charges for message will vary in accordance with the distance, ranging from Ks 400 to Ks 700.

Myanmar seeks foreign partners to jointly operate refinery

[YANGON] Myanmar has invited foreign companies as partners to raise production capacity of and jointly operate the state-owned Thanlyin Refinery, its second-biggest, marking the opening up of the country's oil sector under new foreign investment laws.

The Ministry of Energy published the invitation to the foreign firms for participation in Thanlyin in state-owned paper Kyemon on July 14.

SCG invests US$ 400 million to build cement factory

Thailand’s Siam Cement Group is investing $ 400 million to construct the cement factory in Mawlamyine, Mon State.

The construction of the factory is expected to complete in the middle of 2016.

“The priority we are focusing this moment is to manufacture cement and later cement related products such as ready mixed concrete and precast concrete blocks,” saidKanTrakulhoon, SCG president and CEO.

“Myanmar seems developing progressively and infrastructures are needed so cement market will be good. The investments made in industry and housing construction sectors are increasing especially in major cities – Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw,” he said.

Myanmar takes measures to remove locally-manufactured vehicles running on roads

YANGON, July 16 (Xinhua) -- The Myanmar regional transport authorities are taking measures to remove vehicles manufactured by local companies in industrial zones in the country, setting to hand them in to the authorities starting this week, official media reported Wednesday.

These locally-produced vehicles are blamed for having low quality which pose danger to road safety.

These vehicles include cars produced from Mandalay Industrial Zone, jeeps from Taunggyi Aye Thaya, Monywa, Yenangyoung and Yangon Industrial Zones, according to Mandalay Region Directorate of Road Transport.

It is estimated that 12,000 vehicles, manufactured in various industrial zones, are used across the nation, of which 3,000 are in northern Mandalay region.

OTC stock market for Thilawa SEZ to open

The over-the-counter stock market for Thilawa Special Economic Zone will be launched later this year according to the chairperson of the Thilawa SEZ.

“The counters will open at public areas for easy access to information and inquiry. The counters are opened to sell shares because there is no stock market yet. We will expand the market depending on the demand. Once the stock market is established, counters may not be needed,” Win Aung, the chairperson said.

Japanese firms to invest in Myanmar's telecommunication sector

YANGON, July 17 (Xinhua) -- Two Japanese firms will invest a total of 2 billion U.S. dollars in Myanmar's telecommunication sector to help the state-owned tele-enterprise expand network and compete with foreign telecommunication operators in providing services, according to the state-run Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) Thursday.

The investment will be made by KDDI Corporation and Sumitomo Corporation under a memorandum of understanding signed with the MPT of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in Nay Pyi Taw.

Meanwhile, the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) and the Myanmar ministry jointly held a workshop Wednesday on "mobile communications as an agent of inclusion and change" in the capital.

Financial assistance needed for SMEs

Small and medium-sized enterprises have a critical role in driving the country’s economic growth, said Brigadier General KyawOoLwin, MP of the upper house, calling for financial assistance to the SMEs.

He was speaking at the upper house on Friday while submitting his committee’s report on the SMEs Development Bill.

“The SMEs account for 90 percent of the country’s total economy. They need to boost competitiveness at local and international markets. Giving the encouragement to the SMEs is aimed at helping support the country’s socio-economic development. The SMEs provide the most job opportunities and account for workforce ratio,” he said.

The SMEs should have an easy access to information, technical support and cash assistance. The committee has made necessary preparations to create new employment opportunity and income-increasing scheme.

Myanmar pharma sector expected to grow 10-15%

MYANMAR'S pharmaceutical industry is expected to rev up 10-15 per cent a year thanks to the government's increasing spending on healthcare.

The Myanmar Pharmaceutical and Medical Equipment Entrepreneurs Association made the forecast at the recent "Myanmar Medi-Pharm Expo", signalling confidence in the future of the nascent market now estimated to be worth about US$100 million to $120 million (Bt3.2 billion to Bt3.85 billion).

During the past three years, the Myanmar government has tripled healthcare expenditures. Spending by consumers will also rise in line with the country's growing economy.

Myanmar-Nepal flight would facilitate Buddhist pilgrims

Yangon – The planned launch of direct flight between Myanmar and Nepal might become a new option to facilitate the Myanmar-India-Nepal pilgrimage route for Buddhist followers.

Presently, Buddhist pilgrims have to only rely on Myanmar-India flight in order to visit the holy sites in India and Nepal. The additional air service is expected to boost the convenience of pilgrims.

“The tourism industry can offer more travel choices for pilgrims if the Myanmar-Nepal flight is launched. Now we encounter delay because pilgrims have to travel only through India to visit holy sites. In past, there was air service from Nepal,” said Hla Aye, managing director of Shan Yoe Ma Tour.

Luxury cars and artisanal cheese: Burma opens up, but true democracy still elusive

RANGOON, Burma — On a recent rain-soaked night, the ancient gold Shwedagon Pagoda, believed to contain relics of the Buddha, glowed through the mist in Rangoon.

Not far away, a more modern scene was unfolding at one of the city’s newest shopping malls, where middle-class families sipped lattes and dined on hamburgers and French fries. Just a few years ago, such cuisine was affordable only for the elite or Western travelers.

Once isolated from the world, Burma, also known as Myanmar, has seen rapid change since 2010, when its military government began a process of democratic reform that prompted Western governments to ease economic sanctions.

Deposit interest rate hiked

A number of private banks, including the largest KBZ Bank, have recently announced an increase of deposit rate from 8 per cent to 8.25.

The banks, however, keep the borrowing rate at 13 per cent.

The rate adjustment happened in the wake of the Central Bank of Myanmar announcement on approval plans for foreign banks to set up branches.

The central bank set the minimum and maximum interest rates between 8 and 13 per cent to control inflation.

Asia Green Development Bank announced a raise in the interest rate on deposit from 8 to 8.25 percent with effect from July 1. Co-operative Bank promised to do the same.

Ooredoo and the Khan Academy Myanmar announced Myanmar’s first Translate-athon

Ooredoo Myanmar today announced that it has teamed up with the Khan Academy Myanmar to help make their wealth of educational material available across Myanmar. The Khan Academy Myanmar is a not-for-profit organization that aims to change education for the better by harnessing technology to make a world-class education available free to anyone, anywhere.

An extensive library of education resources, including interactive challenges, assessments and videos are available for students, coaches, parents and teachers. With Ooredoo’s new, next generation 3G network expected to bring the life-enhancing benefits of Internet access to the people of Myanmar, the potential exists for millions of new Internet users to leverage the comprehensive syllabus of the Khan Academy Myanmar to access further education across the country. The free library of educational resources includes 6,000 videos covering subjects such as: maths, sciences, economics, finance and history. The videos currently receive 10 million views every month from students around the world.

US-based Ball to commence construction in October at Thilawa SEZ

Yangon- US-based Ball Corporation has set October to construct its production plant for beverage can becoming the first US investment project at Thilawa Special Economic Zone, said Min Tala Nyan, the company’s country manager.

“We have not finished land preparation during the monsoon. At the end of the rains, we can start construction work. We hope the construction can begin in October,” said the country manager.

The investment project was unveiled at the signing ceremony for the memorandum of understanding on June 6.

Myanmar Airways inks deal for up to 12 ATR 72-600s

Myanmar’s state-owned national airline Myanma Airways—to be renamed Myanmar National Airlines in the near future—signed a deal for six ATR 72-600s with six options at the Farnborough Airshow.

The aircraft will enable the carrier to expand its global footprint to establish itself as a major carrier in the region. The aircraft, which are scheduled for delivery between 2015 and 2017, will gradually replace its existing ATR fleet.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

More than 3,000 companies registered under foreign investment law

A total of 3,032 foreign-based companies and more than 70 joint ventures have registered to open offices and to operate 720 projects under the foreign investment as of June, according to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration.

"The investment commission gave approval to mostly garment factories, shoe factories and other manufacturing businesses. This will create employment opportunities for the citizens. On the other hand, labour rights should be ensured. It is bad if foreign investors could not ensure labour rights after getting approval for investment," said an executive from the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Helping Burma’s Women Entrepreneurs to Take Risks

RANGOON — A small group of Burmese women who want to start businesses of their own is being helped by Project-W, part of a so-called start-up incubator in Rangoon. Eleven women were chosen for their business ideas, which range from starting an online shop selling longyis, to a travel agency. The women are currently involved in the six-month project, in which they are being taught business skills and market knowledge, and being advised by local mentors.

The Irrawaddy’s reporter Nyein Nyein talked to Allison Morris—the co-founder of Project Hub Yangon, which is running Project-W—about the program, its successes and its challenges.

Gas exports reach US$10 bn in 3 years

Myanmar’s natural gas exports have amounted to over $10 billion in three years under the civilian government, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

The gas revenues comprise $3.5 billion for fiscal year 2011-12, $3.66 billion for 2012-13 and $3.3 for 2013-14.

In the same period, exports of timber and wood products amounted to $2 billion. And gems earned $2 billion in export earnings. The country received a total of $14 billion in exporting natural resources.

Recently the government organised the 51st Myanmar Gems Exhibition which saw the record earnings of about $800 million.

Myanmar to issue initial population report in August

YANGON, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar authorities will release in the last week of August the initial result of the 2014-nationwide population census conducted in March-April, local media reported Tuesday.

The 7-Day News said the final result is expected to be launched in early 2015.

The total cost of conducting nationwide census amounted to 58.5 million U.S. dollars with the financial support of five million USD from the United Nations, 15 million from Myanmar government and over 38 million from several European countries, the report said.

Highways to be upgraded for Rakhine SEZ

The No 2 Union Highway and Kyaukphyu-Magway route will be upgraded for the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone in Rakhine State, the Ministry of Construction said yesterday.

The SEZ is expected to cost US$280 million to develop and the bidding for contracts is open to foreign investors. The two highways are priority connections to the SEZ.

Myanmar has more than 90,000 kilometres in roads. The ministry has built 36 Union roads linking the North and South and 45 connecting east and west. Their combined length is total miles for those roads are 24,700km.

Chinese ambassador wishes Myanmar stability, rapid growth

YANGON, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar Yang Houlan said here Tuesday that Myanmar is a friendly neighbor of China and the Chinese government and people wish that Myanmar would enjoy stability and rapid development.

Ambassador Yang made the remarks at a panel discussion among ambassadors of three countries -- China, India and the United States, organized by the private-run Sky Net TV.

Over the past three years, Myanmar made great political, and socio-economic progress, and its international environment has markedly improved, he said.

Noting that Myanmar would face some challenges in the process of its transition, the ambassador said he was confident that Myanmar will have a bright future.

Tax collectors set to scour Yangon for tax evaders

The Internal Revenue Department will start scrutinising tax collection in 203 wards of 20 townships in municipal Yangon from the last week of this month, it said.

The move is aimed at uncovering tax evasions among businesses in industrial zones, as well as factories, warehouses, land and house rentals.

“We will invite entrepreneurs in 203 wards in 20 townships … to discuss tax collection in cooperation with township general administration departments,” a senior official from the department said. “Ward administration offices will collect lists of house owners, tenants and businesses,” the official said, adding that the tax-collection review in Yangon was just the first step.

Myanmar airline to buy six jets from Mitsubishi Aircraft

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp., developing Japan’s first passenger jet, has won an order worth $281 million in list prices from Air Mandalay Ltd. in Myanmar.

The agreement is for six MRJ90s, with deliveries due to start in 2018, Air Mandalay said in a statement Tuesday.

The airline has an option to purchase four more, according to the statement. Each aircraft costs $46.8 million in list price. Buyers usually get a discount.

The deal is the second agreed by the company, owned by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., at the Farnborough Air Show this week and brings the total number of orders, including options, to as many as 375.

Vietnam plans industrial zone in Myanmar

Vietnam has expressed interest in a setting up of industrial zone focused on the manufacturing of basic wood products and gems and jewelry, according to a bilateral meeting.

Vietnamese firms intend to invest in agriculture, fisheries, wood products, and gems and jewelry, officials said. Myanmar officials said they would help Vietnamese businesses establish the industrial zone in compliance with the Foreign Investment Law.

A bilateral trade committee was formed last year between the two countries to solve disputes, and trade has increased. The committee is working to increase imports of Myanmar agriculture product to Vietnam.

Myanmar invites submission of expression of interest in SEZ development

YANGON, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar-assigned Singapore-based consortium, led by CPG Consultants, is inviting interested firms to submit expression of interest (EOI) this month for first-phase development of Kyaukpyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in western Rakhine state, state media reported Monday.

The consortium was tasked by Myanmar to develop a master project plan for the Kyaukpyu SEZ, the third of its kind in Myanmar.

The initial phase of the Kyaukpyu SEZ development project will have three components, a deep-sea port, an industrial park and an integrated residential area, a statement of the CPG was quoted as saying.

More insurers to get green light for US dollar services

More insurance firms will be allowed to offer services in US dollars if they can meet the same requirements that were met by the four companies that have already received approval to offer such services, according to Dr Maung Maung Thein, chairperson of the Insurance Business Supervisory Board.

The government has given the green light to IKBZ, Grand Guardian Insurance, First National Insurance and Aung Thitsar Oo Insurance to offer services in US currency, but the companies have yet to receive approval for raising capital for these services.

Insurance firms that plan to offer US dollar services must have capital of at least $500,000. Maung Maung Thein said approval is also based on an assessment of the firm’s performance.

Thai investors urged to move quick in Myanmar

Thai investors should invest more in Myanmar in a bid to take huge advantages in the rapidly-emerging market, speakers said at the the Royal Thai Embassy in Yangon last month.

"Myanmar's economic outlook is very promising. The country's strategic location also makes it more attractive for international businesses. Why don't you invest in such an emerging market with boundless opportunities?" asked Pattanapong Tansomboon, first senior vice president of Kasikornbank, which sponsored the networking event. Governmental agencies and private sector businesses should be getting involved in the newly-opened economy, Pattanapong added.

His views were echoed by Moe Min Kyaw, secretary-general of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI).

Almost all land taken for Thilawa released, as protest gains ground

Just 200 of the 2,400 hectares of land allocated for the Thilawa Special Economic Zone have yet to be released for industrial use, according to Thilawa SEZ Management Committee.

The announcement comes despite a growing protest by those who say they have been impoverished since being “forced” to make way for the first phase of the project located about 20 kilometres southeast of downtown Yangon.

Last month, with the assistance of Japanese NGO Mekong Watch, people affected by the Japan-Myanmar project they took their protest to Tokyo. Three representatives of the Thilawa Social Development Group made a formal complaint to the Japan International Cooperation Agency, or JICA, which has a stake in the SEZ.

That complaint triggered a formal review of the project by JICA, which has a set of environmental and social guidelines it is required to follow in projects it invests in, as well as an examiner that can investigate alleged violations of these guidelines.

Lenders seek Myanmar banking entrée

TOKYO: Dozens of foreign banks are pushing to launch licensed operations in Myanmar, in a bid round closing on Monday that reveals both pros and cons of entering the fast-opening southeast Asian country, reports the Financial Times. 

Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group are among a clutch of Asian financial institutions pressing to expand in the nation, as most of their US and European counterparts stay on the sidelines. 

Political uncertainty, infrastructure problems and international sanctions have limited western corporate enthusiasm for Myanmar, although Standard Chartered of the UK and Australia’s ANZ – which, unlike other western lenders, have representative offices in Myanmar – are seen as candidates to enter the banking market. 

MAPCO plans another share sale

Myanmar Agribusiness Public Corporation is planning to sell a total of Ks five billion in shares, with individuals allowed to purchase up to Ks 1 billion worth of shares each, according to its managing director.

“Every Myanmar citizen can purchase shares at the price of Ks 10,800 per share,” MAPCO managing director Ye Min Aung said.

He also said it was not the company’s duty to prevent drug money from being used to buy shares. “It is not our duty to investigate whether the buyers are using black or white money. Even if it is black money, it would be useful inside the company instead of following outside,” Ye Min Aung said.

Business breakthrough in Burma as UK opens first new Chamber of Commerce

Burma – which had a 244% leap of imports from the UK of £12.8m to £44m in 2013 – today (Wednesday) sees the launch of a ground-breaking Chamber of Commerce.

The UK is the first country to launch a completely new, locally registered Chamber in the attractive emerging Asian market.

The role of the Chamber is to promote, foster, support, and represent UK business interests in Burma (or Myanmar) – directly helping British firms identify market opportunities and providing them with a first port of call when looking to trade in that particular market.

John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Burma is the fastest growing economy in South East Asia, with goods exports seeing an increase of 244% in 2013.

Trade imbalance with China rises

Imports from China continue to exceed exports to Myanmar’s largest trading partner, with the imbalance rising to nearly US$1.2 billion in the last fiscal year, government figures show.

Myanmar’s total exports to China totalled $2.91 billion while imports were $4.10 billion in FY2013-14, according to the National Planning and Economic Development Ministry.

The year before exports totalled $2.23 billion and imports were $2.71 billion. In FY2011-12, exports to China totalled $2.24 billion and imports totalled $2.78 billion.

Taiwan and Myanmar sign deal on tech cooperation

Taiwan and Myanmar signed a memorandum of understanding Monday on cooperation in the field of information and communications technology.

The memorandum will further expand ICT cooperation and exchanges by promoting exchanges in information technology, business know-how, Chinese language learning, marketing and promotion and development of business opportunities, according to the Taipei Computer Association, one of the signatories.

Representing Taiwan at the signing ceremony was Dennis Hu, CEO of the Taipei Computer Association's International Cooperation Office and the APEC Digital Opportunity Center (ADOC) 2.0 Non-Government Office.

New Light of Myanmar (23 Jul 2014 - Wednesday)

The Mirror Daily (23 Jul 2014 - Wednesday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (23 Jul 2014 - Wednesday)

New Light of Myanmar (22 Jul 2014 - Tuesday)

The Mirror Daily (22 Jul 2014 - Tuesday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (22 Jul 2014 - Tuesday)

New Light of Myanmar (21 Jul 2014 - Monday)

The Mirror Daily (21 Jul 2014 - Monday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (21 Jul 2014 - Monday)

New Light of Myanmar (20 Jul 2014 - Sunday)

The Mirror Daily (20 Jul 2014 - Sunday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (20 Jul 2014 - Sunday)

New Light of Myanmar (19 Jul 2014 - Saturday)

The Mirror Daily (19 Jul 2014 - Saturday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (19 Jul 2014 - Saturday)

New Light of Myanmar (18 Jul 2014 - Friday)

The Mirror Daily (18 Jul 2014 - Friday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (18 Jul 2014 - Friday)

New Light of Myanmar (17 Jul 2014 - Thursday)

The Mirror Daily (17 Jul 2014 - Thursday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (17 Jul 2014 - Thursday)

Thursday, 17 July 2014

New Light of Myanmar (16 Jul 2014 - Wednesday)

The Mirror Daily (16 Jul 2014 - Wednesday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (16 Jul 2014 - Wednesday)

MCB receives Ks 18 million in deposits this year

Myanmar Citizens Bank (MCB) has received just over Ks 18 million in deposits this year, according to a report submitted at its 22nd annual general meeting.

“The MCB’s deposits have reached Ks 18,788 million, which is up by Ks 5,078 million this year compared with that of last year,” said Win Myint, managing director of the MCB.

The bank has been working to boost its investments annually. The total deposits received were Ks 4,450 million in 2010, Ks 5,600 million in 2011, Ks 6,650 million in 2012 and Ks 13,710 million in 2013 respectively. This year has seen a 38 per cent increase. 

Myanmar earns record sale in annual gems emporium

YANGON, July 11 (Xinhua) -- The just-ended 51st annual Myanmar Gems Emporium has fetched 3.4 billion U.S. dollars, up 1 billion dollars compared with that of the previous one, local media reported Friday.

The record-breaking sales were mainly gained through jade lots, said the Mizzima Daily.

Jade lots totaling 74 were sold at the close of the 51st Myanmar Gems Emporium, receiving 1,020 million dollars commercial tax from the event.

The gems emporium attracted over 4,000 gems merchants including about 2,000 foreign ones, mostly from China and China's Hong Kong.

Experts recommend OTC market for Myanmar

Some stock exchange experts have recommended that Myanmar establish the over-the-counter (OTC) market for stock trading, aside from the formal stock exchange.

“Although there are 200 public companies in Myanmar, only five of them will be listed on the stock exchange. The transactions of other companies’ shares can be done on the OTC market,” said Dr. Aung Thura from the Thura Swiss Company.

The Yangon Stock Exchange is expected to kick off by October 2015. The preparation is underway with advice from the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Foreign companies have shown interest in acquiring stocks in local public companies.

Foreign investment in Myanmar totals 46.71 bln USD since 1988

YANGON, July 13 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar attracted 176 million U.S. dollars in foreign investment last month, thus bringing the nation 's total contracted foreign investment to 46.71 billion dollars as of June 2014 since 1988 when Myanmar opened its door to the outside world, local media reported Sunday.

In June, the investment from Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and China's Hong Kong mainly flew into such sectors as manufacturing, transport and communication, livestock and breeding as well as agriculture.

For the first half of 2014, foreign investment was mostly injected into the sector of transport and communication, totaling some 1.1 billion U.S. dollars.

House rental charges up by 10% to 35%

Charges for residential rent in Yangon are up by 10 per cent to 35 per cent in comparison to last year, according to a real estate market survey.

Rent for apartment increases by 10 per cent and the condominium lease jumps by 35 per cent. The rent varies in accordance with location and residential quality.

“Property owners are asking for higher rent based on quality of houses and apartments. Rental fees for flat and condo are higher than the ones from last year. The rent for flat at Yazana Garden City has also gone up. The rent increase coincides with the arrival of Buddhist Lent,” said Sai Li from Asia Land Real Estate Agent.

Managing FDI for Sustainable Development in Myanmar

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Myanmar’s natural resource base (oil, gas and mineral resources including gems) is rapidly growing and presents an economic opportunity for the country. To ensure sustainable development it is important for the Government of Myanmar to manage FDI in the natural resource sector so that it is socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable. Unfortunately, not all investments work toward the goals of sustainable development and can result in the depletion of natural resources, poor working conditions and few in-country economic benefits (IIED).

KBZ Bank named best bank in Myanmar

Deposits at Kanbawza Bank have risen to US$4 billion, according to bank executives speaking days after the bank won two awards for its services at a ceremony in Singapore.

On July 10, KBZ Bank was named Myanmar’s Best Domestic Retail Bank and selected as the Myanmar bank with the Best Core Banking System Initiative by the Asian Banking and Finance Association.

KBZ was the first bank in Myanmar to switch from an ordinary core banking system to the Oracle Flexcube Centralized Core Banking System, a move cited as the reason for the second award.

Burma's Struggle to Stay Ancient

Burma's historical relics received a huge boost in June, when the nation hosted its first United Nations World Tourism Organization conference on tourism and heritage protection. Days later, Burma made an even more auspicious debut when a group of Pyu towns, with ruins dating from the first to ninth centuries, became the first site in the country to make it onto the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Nobody questions the extraordinary breadth of Burmese heritage. Burma was once one of Asia's most advanced civilizations, home to major cities and temples. In the 19th century, Burma flourished as one of the jewels of the British Empire, a grandness still evident in historic mansions and ornate government edifices in almost every city, most prominently the former capital of Rangoon.

Myanmar remains on FATF watch list

Myanmar is still on the list of countries with strategic deficiencies in anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT), according to a report from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Along with Myanmar, Indonesia, Ecuador, Algeria remain on the same watch list while other 10 countries were removed from it.

According to this year’s mid-term report, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey and Yemen cooperated in AML/CFT and the FATF removed them from the watch list.

Kenya, Tanzania, Nepal, Kazakhstan and Mongolia also improved in their AML/CFT measures by February although they did not fully cooperate in accordance with global standards. So, they were no longer in the watch list.

Myanmar drafts action plan for development of dry ports, containerization

YANGON, July 11 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar has draft an action plan for the development of dry ports and containerization of rail transport to ensure free flow of goods and provide new opportunities for international trade before implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, state media reported Friday.

The action plan is set to be carried out in the current fiscal year of 2014-15.

Under the plan, the state-run Myanmar Railways is to build dry ports in Yangon and Mandalay, where three sites are targeted as top priorities as these sites are large enough to hold containers and road and rail networks facilitating access to industrial zones.

Myanmar earns US$5 billion from foreign trade

From April 1 to July 4, Myanmar’s foreign trade through land and maritime routes has amounted to more than $5 billion, an increase of $1 billion from the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

The exports totalled $1.8 billion and the imports were worth $3.4 billion. The maritime trade accounted for more than 80 per cent of the international trade.

Earlier this month, the authorities launched the suppression of contraband at Asia World, Htee Dan, Myanmar Industrial Port, Sule and Bo Aung Kyaw jetties.

For fiscal year 2012-13, the country’s international trade reached $18 billion. And fiscal year 2013-14 saw the trade volume increased to $24 billion.

Achieving Burma’s Energy Goal Will Be ‘Very Tough’: Report

Burma faces a “very tough task” to achieve the Ministry of Electric Power’s ambition to develop a modern national energy infrastructure in the next 15 years, an industry report said.

The ministry has outlined plans to increase Burma’s power-generating capacity to nearly 25,000 megawatts by 2030. At present, the national capacity is only 4,360 megawatts—barely one third of the capacity of tiny Singapore, which has a population of 5.3 million.

“Asia’s new economic frontier Myanmar, seeking to attract tens of billions of dollars in investment, is also one of the darkest places in the world with an electricity capacity which reaches only one in five of the estimated 60 million population,” said Asia Power Monitor, an international energy industry weekly newspaper.

“The Ministry of Energy has outlined vague plans for 40 power projects across the country to achieve the 2030 generating target—which is less than neighboring Thailand’s today with a similar population,” it said this week.

Selling without stock disrupts beans market

After the Myanmar New Year Festival in mid-April, bean prices have been on the rise because selling beans without having stock in hand disrupted the market, according to sources from Bayintnaung Wholesale Centre.

"One tonne of mung beans (RC) costs Ks 780,000 (US$780) and that of pigeon peas Ks 640,000 ($640). Since Thingyan (New Year Festival), bean prices have been rising. Currently, bean prices are stable at a high level. Around Thingyan, mung bean price was just about Ks 560,000 ($560) per tonne. It has been increasing slowly and it is now over Ks 700,000," said Dr Myint Oo from Bayintnaung Wholesale Centre.

Rising bean price is partly because of high demand from India and small reserve of beans in the country.

Ooredoo’s Myanmar strategy chief looks beyond voice and tex

Myanmar may have one of the lowest teledensities in the world, but Nick Swierzy (pictured), chief strategy officer for Ooredoo’s Myanmar operation, is confident that advanced services – running over the operator’s all-IP network – will prove popular in a short space of time.

Flagging up the likes of mobile health and money services, Swierzy told Mobile World Live there was a big opportunity to go beyond the traditional talk and text model.

“We think we can get Myanmar using advanced services more quickly than other markets,” he said.

China remains Myanmar’s top source of FDI

China continues to be the largest investor in Myanmar with more than US$14 billion of cumulative investment as of the end of June, according to latest data from the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA).

Foreign companies have so far invested more than $46.71 billion in 12 sectors, including oil and gas, manufacturing, mining, hotels and tourism, transport and logistics, real estate, livestock and fisheries, agriculture, construction and services.

The energy sector has received the most foreign investment, about 41 per cent of the total, while the construction sector has received the least, according to DICA.

Dusit moves into Myanmar

Dusit International aims to cash in on Myanmar's growing popularity as a leisure and corporate destination through the opening of the dusitD2 Residence in Yangon.

"Myanmar bears enormous potential in the tourism industry, offering a wide diversity of attractions ranging from historical, cultural and beaches and even snow-capped mountains in the north," Rustom Vickers, director of development, said yesterday.

The hospitality company has more than 10 properties under planning and development in the neighbouring country.

The hotel/serviced apartment project, which is a joint investment with a Japanese firm active in the country, will target long-stay guests and corporations with businesses in the city, supplemented by holidaymakers.

Myanmar to implement automated cargo clearance

The Customs Department plans to create an automated cargo clearance system with financial aid from Japan to help speed up the checking of containers and other cargo.

Japan has reportedly provided US$39.9 million for an Automated Cargo Clearance System (MACCS) after signing a deal in April this year, according to Kyaw Win, Managing Director of Myanmar Customs Department.

WWL opens new office in Yangon, Myanmar

July 09, 2014, Tokyo, Japan - Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) has entered into a joint venture with Myanmar-based Carrier King Logistics that makes it the first independent company in the country to provide modern automobile distribution from port to consumer.

With the rapid and on-going democratisation of Myanmar, a new consumer market is emerging—including a growing demand for automobiles with more and more international manufacturers establishing dealerships in the country’s largest city, Yangon.

“Myanmar traditionally had a very limited automobile market, and still today the majority of cars sold in Myanmar are second-hand vehicles imported from Japan. They arrive at the ports and are then ‘jockey driven’ by individual drivers from the ports to wherever they are sold—or owners or dealers come to the port themselves to pick up the vehicles. As new cars are starting to enter the country, a professional and safe transport solution is clearly needed”, explains Trond Tonjum, Head of WWL South East Asia.

Investment attraction to Hpa-an industrial zone drops

Foreign business owners are reportedly losing interest in investing in the Hpa-an Industrial Zone due to electricity shortages.

It is the 19th industrial zone in Myanmar and covers nearly 1,000 acres of land. Moreover, it is divided into four parts and 59 land plots have been earmarked for foreign investors at industrial zone-1.

“The industrial zone project has started since September, 2011. During the construction period, Japan, Thailand, China as well as South Korea have sent investment proposals to the authorities. But, the project can’t be operated because the government can’t provide full electricity sources. Electricity supply plays a vital role in project implementation. If electricity can’t be used sufficiently, projects will not be successfully carried out,” commented some entrepreneurs.

Kimberly-Clark seeks bigger footprint in CLMV countries

Kimberly-Clark Professional Thailand, a maker of tissue and safety-related products, plans to tap business opportunities in CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam), targeting factories and hotels.

General manager and director Karun Sangfai said Kimberly-Clark was looking for a distributor for its products in Myanmar, which has opened up to various foreign businesses and factories. In Vietnam, the company has four distributors in Danang, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

The target client groups are factories and five-star hotels such as Marriott and Novotel.

Japan looks to Myanmar for supply of raw rubber

Japan is providing state of the art technology to process raw rubber and boost local production in a bid to find a new supply for its tyre manufacturing industry.

According to an MoU between the Myanmar Rubber Planters and Producers Association and Japanese manufacturers, Japan will provide technology to produce high-quality raw rubber from plantations in Yangon, Bago and Mon regions in return for exports.

“We get technology from Japan. They want to import rubber to their market fast if possible. Raw rubber produced in this season might be ready to export. They would import to their market if qualified,” said Khine Myint, secretary of the Myanmar Rubber Planters and Producers Association.

Myanmar plans more special economic zones for development

Myanmar has planned one more special economic zone (SEZ), which is Kyaukpyu SEZ in western Rakhine state’s Kyaukpyu, while implementing two prior ones.

The SEZ administration assigned a Singapore-based consortium to develop a master project plan for the Kyaukpyu SEZ, the third of its kind in Myanmar, state media reported Tuesday.

CPG Consultancy Ltd , which leads the consortium, will serve as the key advisor for choosing and inviting international developers to the Kyaukpyu SEZ under an agreement signed with the Committee of Bid Invitation and Selection for the Kyaukpyu.

The Myanmar government and the consortium will select construction companies in December, using an international bid process and the chosen companies are to draw detailed plans in the first two months of 2015.

Ayeyarwady Bank announces Ks 1 trillion in deposits

The Ayeyarwady Bank has recorded public deposits amounting to Ks 1 trillion (US$1 billion) since its founding in 2010, according to bank statements.

The bank began business three years ago with the opening of its headquarters in Nay Pyi Taw on August 11, 2010.

Apart from normal banking procedures, it has become a member of United Nations Global Compact and runs corporate social responsibility programmes since August 2012.

Myanmar's palm oil industry heads for a sustainable path

New research and discussions show there is hope to conserve Myanmar's unique biodiversity as its palm oil industry expands – if the country can learn from the experiences of its neighbours.

Palm oil has spelled controversy across Southeast Asia for its environmental and social impacts. But – if planned right – palm oil development and biodiversity conservation in Myanmar could happen together.

Launched at Myanmar's first workshop on the development of a sustainable plantation sector on 28 June, 2014, a study by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) shows that most biodiversity-rich forests in Myanmar's Tanintharyi region are located inland along the Myanmar-Thai border, while most land suitable for palm oil cultivation is located along the coast, where forests are already too degraded to support threatened species.

Mobile data users reaches 3 mln in 2014

The number of mobile data users has increased steadily since 2011 and is approaching 3 million this year, according to the Myanmar Post and Telecommunication (MPT).

Mobile users can order data services via SMS to receive internet on their phone, a process which once required filling out multiple forms at the MPT offices in person.

Still additional data services cost Ks 10,000 (US$10) – a price since reduced from Ks 30,000 ($30) – and the connection speeds are often low and unreliable.

“Accessing mobile internet has become convenient, thanks to Android powered handsets. But regardless of the handset quality, the MPT data services are still terrible,” said mobile user Thar Nge.

Myanmar sells $3bn in gems

Myanmar's annual gem emporium took in more than $3 billion this year, the most ever for the country's annual sale of gems and jade, organizers said Tuesday.

"This year sale surpassed the target and is the record sale in Myanmar emporium history," said Tun Hla Aung, joint secretary of the Myanmar Gems & Jewellery Entrepreneurs Association.Income reached $3.4 billion and saw the successful auction of 6,007 of 7,454 jade lots, 126 out of 436 gem lots and 224 of the total 342 pearl lots, they said.

The emporium earned just more than $2.4 billion dollars last year, the highest in recent decades. Improved access to the country and a rise in the price of jade boosted revenue.

"This year's jade price is more than 20% higher than last year," Mr Tun said.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Jade mining set to resume in four Kachin townships

On September 1 the government will allow jade mining to resume in areas of Kachin State where it has been suspended for two years due to armed conflict, an official from the supervisory work committee for jade plots said.

The resumption of jade mining in four townships in the state is intended to improve the socioeconomic welfare of its residents, the official said.

The mining will resume in Lonekhin, Phar Kant, Mawluu-Maw Han and Khanni townships, where it has been suspended since May 2012, the official said.

The real victims of extended US economic sanctions on Myanmar

Myanmar's opening attracted much interest not only from Asian neighbours but also those in the West that once considered it a pariah state. Recent events, however, suggest that the honeymoon with the US and Europe may be waning over political issues. In contrast, China and others remain ready to engage, provided business conditions improve.

America's honeymoon over

In May, the Americans extended economic sanctions to maintain the status quo, rather than easing up restrictions, as some had hoped. Just this month, religious clashes in Mandalay triggered not only a curfew in Myanmar's second-largest city but wider concerns about conflict between the majority Buddhists and the country's Muslim minority.

More questions are being asked about political stability and risks for businesses. But responses, however, differ according to perceptions and priorities.

Take, for example, Rakhine state and treatment of the Muslim minority there. European governments and the US have emphasised their concern over the plight of the Rohingya.

Police vow to investigate financial crimes

The police are clamping down on financial crime and money laundering but urged the revenue authorities to provide more information on instances of tax evasion.

A high ranking police official has insisted that the police will follow up on information regarding financial crime and has so far investigated 46 cases of money laundering involving drug and human trafficking.

“We confiscated houses and cars bought with black money as the money came from drugs and human trafficking. The revenue officials need to charge those avoiding tax through money laundering. Our police will take action under the money laundering law, but the revenue offices have not informed us of such cases yet,” said the high ranking officer, who refused to be named.

Myanmar promises to clean up mining sector

Australia has hailed Myanmar's (Burma) bid to boost transparency in its mining sector, with the federal government keen to ramp up trade and investment with the emerging economy.

Myanmar's application to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative - a voluntary code to encourage governments to be accountable for their country's resource revenues - has been accepted.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who is in Myanmar on her first official visit, said it was a positive sign of reform in a country awash with natural resources but plagued by widespread poverty.

But she warned that broader economic reforms - including a stable financial and banking sector - would be needed before Myanmar could attract the foreign investment it desired.

Myanmar to hold int'l food, beverage fair in Yangon

YANGON, July 4 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar will hold the first international Food and Beverage exhibition at Myanmar Convention Center in Yangon from July 24, the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry announced on Friday.

Jointly organized by the Thai Chamber of Commerce, Board of Trade of Thailand and ICVeX Co., Ltd, the three-day exhibition will feature manufacturers, suppliers and brands mostly from Thailand to promote their food and beverage lines of products ranging from raw ingredients to finished products.

Singapore tops FDI list

Foreign investment exceeded US$2 billion in the first five months of the year, with funds from Singapore accounting for $1.9 billion of the total, the Directorate of Investment and Companies Administration said.

Investment from Thailand ranked second, at $114 million. Investment from mainland China was $51 million, while Hong Kong investment totaled $42 million. Japan, Malaysia and South Korea followed, with $26 million, $24 million and $22 million respectively. 

Investment from the United Kingdom was $14 million, while investment from Sweden was $14 million. Investment from Brunei and Samoa was $3 million each, while investment from India was $0.9 million.

Thai alliance in Myanmar venture

Millcon Steel Plc (MILL), a SET-listed steelmaker, has formed a partnership with SET-listed General Engineering Plc (GEL) to develop a building materials factory in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Myanmar to cash in on growing demand in the neighbouring country.

Millcon and General Engineering signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday with Myanmar Japan Thilawa Development Ltd, which operates the SEZ near Yangon, making the Thai alliance the first granted investment privileges under the new Myanmar SEZ law.

The Myanmar company will reserve a land plot in the SEZ and apply for investment privileges for the Thai company.

Ooredoo to sell SIM cards according to market demand

Ooredoo Myanmar has refuted rumours that only 20 SIM cards will be distributed to each retail store and confirms that it will provide as many SIM cards as the market demands.
“Everyone may have as many SIM cards as they want,” said Thiri Kyer Nyo, information officer for Ooredoo.

Ooredoo’s SIM cards will be 3G Advanced, meaning they will require mobile handsets with 900 to 2100 UMTS frequency range, according to former announcements by the company.
“Ooredoo aims to grant data services at reasonable prices for all. We are now negotiating with handsets vendors. The network of Ooredoo will cover 97 per cent of the country in five years,” Thiri Kyer Nyo continued.

Mobile Internet: the Hope of Myanmar’s Technology

Revo Tech, a Myanmar-based creative digital agency, is optimistic about the country’s opportunities for mobile apps and web development.

“It won’t be like Silicon Valley even in five or 10 years,” according to Myo Myint Kyaw, founder and chief executive of Revo Tech.

Kyaw added that they predict to catch up with Singapore in three to four years.

Myanmar, however, is a country that suffers from undependable Internet connections. As a consequence, electronic documents are better delivered manually. In addition, files are hand-delivered as high-resolution photographs since they can't be sent electronically.

Local fishermen hurt by lower prices in Thailand

Myanmar fishermen blamed Thai middlemen for the lower-than-expected revenue from fish sales. 

The prices of net-trapped fish in Thailand have fallen by half, said Myint Aung, a fisherman in Myiek. 

"Only in the beginning of rainy season, we usually get more fish by net-trapping. So, we wait for this period. Yet, those from Thailand know this and have reduced the prices."
Located by the Andaman Sea, Myiek is close to the South of Thailand. 

"Fishing boats from Myeik have no other places than Thailand to sell the fish. So, we have sell our fish at the price they give," Myint Aung added.

Future looks bright in Myanmar as jobs platform Work gets 600,000 monthly pageviews

Southeast Asia is full of promising markets, ready to be tapped by the right players at the right time. For Myanmar, the country which just started to open up to the world in 2011, the right time for internet companies to take full advantage of the new ecosystem is perhaps tomorrow. But Rocket Internet has been taking first-mover advantage since 2012. 

Jort Statema from the jobs portal – one of the sites under a joint venture between Rocket and telco Ooredo – told us some of the challenges they face when venturing into Myanmar’s online space. Operating since June 2012, the 12-man team at Work pursued various online and offline initiatives to educate the market and get companies and regular people on board the job search service. The site has 50,000 registered job seeker profiles and 4,000 company profiles, recording 90,000 visits per month and 600,000 monthly pageviews. Each month the platform sees 2,000 new job posts, with 80,000 job applications in total completed within the site.

Second phase of Thilawa SEZ now underway

The second phase of the Thilawa Special Economic Zone has just been initiated on a 2000 hectare plot in Kyauktan Township, 20 km southeast of Yangon.

Organisers of the industrial project are currently undertaking an environmental and social assessment to see how the development will impact local surrounding areas.

"What we're doing now is to make a preliminary study on environmental effects from the project. People can talk about their concerns. We will make a second-round review based on the public opinion," said Dr Than Than Thwe, co-secretary of Thilawa SEZ Management Committee.

EITI Candidacy Approval is a Transparency Breakthrough for Myanmar

The reality in Myanmar only three years ago was starkly different from what it is today. People had no right to assemble. Little information was shared publicly about industry and government activities. Political prisoners were still held captive. Decades-long military rule continued, along with one of the world’s longest-running civil wars.

Since then, dramatic progress has been made in expanding political freedom, and opening the country to outside investment and trade. But Myanmar remains among the poorest nations in Asia, with GDP per capita between $800 and $1,000 a year. At the same time, the country ranked poorly in surveys on perceptions of corruption and transparency.

Govt to take action on illegal fuel imports

The authorities will start inspections at airports and ports to clamp down on illegal fuel imports, according to the Illegal Trade Prevention Central Committee (ITPCC).

“The government’s crack down on fuel smuggling started last November to stop fuel smuggling, but there has been no seizure of fuel smugglers yet,” said Nyunt Aung, deputy director general of the ITPCC.

“However, the amount of fuel imports is more or less than the original import list. It is in range. The government allowed 10 percent on the amount of fuel imports. The smuggling are in that 10 percent so no action has been taken yet. Lately, the volume of legal fuel import is increased,” he added.

Thai investors urged to move quick in Myanmar

Thai investors should invest more in Myanmar in a bid to take huge advantages in the rapidly-emerging market, speakers said at the the Royal Thai Embassy in Yangon last month.

"Myanmar's economic outlook is very promising. The country's strategic location also makes it more attractive for international businesses. Why don't you invest in such an emerging market with boundless opportunities?" asked Pattanapong Tansomboon, first senior vice president of Kasikornbank, which sponsored the networking event. Governmental agencies and private sector businesses should be getting involved in the newly-opened economy, Pattanapong added.

His views were echoed by Moe Min Kyaw, secretary-general of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI).

Myanmar braces for more foreign arrivals

Yangon International Airport, the country’s main gateway, has recorded over 500,000 foreign travelers entering Myanmar from January 1 to end of June 2014.

“There are 506,274 foreigners have entered from the airport terminal. Most are from Thailand,” said an official from the immigration department from the Yangon Airport.

Tech Scene in Myanmar Hinges on Cellphone Grid

YANGON, Myanmar — Images of Steven P. Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg adorn the walls of Myo Myint Kyaw’s creative digital agency. He says they inspire him. But he imagines neither man ever worked in an environment where Internet connections were so unreliable that a “file transfer” often involved delivering electronic documents across town by taxi.

In Myanmar, that is often faster than using email.

Mr. Kyaw said the start of a website for an American client based in Thailand involved an upload that took seven hours — a process that would have taken just minutes elsewhere. On another occasion, a client had to fly from Malaysia to hand-deliver high-resolution photographs that proved too large to send electronically.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

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Friday, 11 July 2014

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Govt reaps US$1 billion from jade exports

The Myanmar government has earned over US$1 billion from the export of jade stone during the 2013-14 fiscal year, according to the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development.

Jade exports from April 1, 2013 to end of March, 2014 amounted to US$1.1 billion, compared to the US$297.9 million earned in the previous year.
Exports were down in April, May and June, but took off again in July, with September standing out as the highest earning month, grossing at US$336 million.

The precious green stone, which is mined in northern Kachin State, is exported mainly to China, Hong Kong and India - countries with strong demand for jade jewellery and craft.

Who Will Benefit From Myanmar’s Offshore Oil Rush?

Myanmar is a country rich in natural resources, including minerals, oil, and gas. Yet during the half-century of military junta rule, only a small number of elite families prospered from the country’s natural endowment.

President Thein Sein, who took office in March 2011, today pledged more transparency and economic reform to benefit the population broadly. Yet it remains to be seen whether his policies can live up to his promises.

One crucial area to watch is the auctioning off of onshore and offshore oil and gas exploration rights. In the past year, Myanmar has awarded 36 major oil and gas blocks to 47 companies, including both local and international corporations. But little information is publicly available about the owners and ultimate beneficiaries of these companies—raising concerns about secrecy and the potential for kickbacks, money laundering, and other forms of corruption.

Border trade with Thailand down from last year

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs has reported a decrease in border trade with Thailand despite building new trade zones and stamping down on illegal trade.
From April 1 to June 27 of the 2014-2015 fiscal year, the trade volume recorded at various designated trade zones of the Myanmar-Thai border amounted to US$135 million. This marks a sharp decrease from the US$162 million recorded last year.

Border trade is mostly recorded at various zones in the border towns of Techilek, Kengtung, Kawthaung, Myeik, Nabulal/Hteekhee, Mawtaung and Myawady.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Travel agencies urged to promote Myanmar's new UNESCO site

THE minister of hotels and tourism is calling on local tour operators, hoteliers and media to leverage Myanmar's newly listed UNESCO World Heritage site, Pyu Ancient Cities, to attract more travellers into the country.

Speaking on June 30 at a Myanmar Tourism Federation meeting, minister Htay Aung said: “This is a good opportunity for us and we need to promote Pyu Ancient Cities (and this can be done) by putting it in your itineraries for the coming season. Also I would like to ask you all to spread the information by uploading this to your own websites to get more awareness internationally.”

SMID Bank to lend Ks 20 billion to SMEs

The Small and Medium Industrial Development Bank plans to grant loans worth Ks 20 billion to small and medium enterprises this month.

“We are checking to approve SME loans for applicants. The lending date is not confirmed yet but it will be within this month. We are expecting to lend a total amount of Ks 20 billion in which Ks one billion loans will be provided to 15 states and regions,” said San Thein, the senior advisor of the bank.

He said that in order to get the loan approval, the applicants must submit the detailed proposal for borrowing to Small and Medium Enterprises Development Centre under the Industry Ministry.

NEC, Shwe Taung provide ICT infra at Nay Pyi Taw Centre

Myanmar corporation Shwe Taung Group, together with NEC Asia Pacific have provided network and security infrastructure for the Myanmar International Convention Centre in Nay Pyi Taw, the capital of Myanmar. NEC Asia Pacific is the main ICT services provider for the convention centre. The Myanmar International Convention Centre is a newly completed 60,000 square meter convention and exhibition centre that recently held the ASEAN Summit 2014, which Myanmar hosted for the first time.

Nann Taw border checkpoint slated for upgrade

The Nann Taw checkpoint, located at Muse Myanmar-China border, is slated for upgrade and the Shan State government is one of the bidders to carry out the project.

“Currently we expect to make a replacement with a larger building to match our country’s image,” said a Nann Taw official.

The winning bidder would be responsible for designing the building.

Myanmar trade deficit rises

YANGON - Myanmar's quarterly trade deficit reached over US$1.4 billion (45.5 billion baht), as the economy continues to open up to foreign investment, the government said Wednesday.

The value of exports — including oil, gas and timber — during April-June was more than $2.2 billion, but $3.6 billion was spent on imports, the Central Statistical Organisation said.

"Due to the decrease in exports of timber, fisheries and mineral products, Myanmar is likely to suffer a trade deficit for the whole year," said Maung Maung Lay, vice chairman of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
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