Friday, 17 January 2014

Burma stock exchange may take some time

The push to set up a stock market in Burma by 2015 is falling behind schedule, hit by a shortage of manpower and know-how.

Fundraising demand among companies here is expanding along with the economy, and a stock market would greatly help funnel cash their way. Businesses can turn to banks for loans, but they are often loath to do so because Burmese financial institutions generally have little know-how in managing credit risk and therefore require that real estate be used as collateral.

Telecom companies still waiting for operating licences

The Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) has yet to issue telecom licences to two foreign operators who were only recently awarded investment permits after winning a competitive tender in June 2013.

Norwegian company Telenor and Qatar-based Ooredoo were both declared winners of a bid that granted them permission to provide private telecom services to Myanmar but they are still waiting for operating licences.

ASEAN foreign ministers meeting retreat to begin in Bagan, Myanmar

BAGAN, Myanmar, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- Foreign ministers and representatives of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ( ASEAN) have gathered in Bagan, an ancient city in Mandalay region of Myanmar, for the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM) Retreat due to begin later Friday.

The AMM Retreat is a follow-up of Thursday's Senior Officials Meeting (SOM), at which tasks such as the ASEAN Community building, priorities of Myanmar chairmanship, the ASEAN Community Post 2015 Vision and the adoption of guidelines on external relations were discussed.

GM looks to expansion, export boost in Myanmar

More dealers, better customer service here towards sales goal of 57,000 units

GM plans to expand its business in Myanmar and boost exports, while domestically the automaker will add dealers and focus on customer service, both short and long term, with the goal of selling 57,000 units this year.

"We need to grow and consolidate this year. We need to work more on the professionalisation of the dealers, so that they stay with use for long and be part of the Chevrolet experience," Gustavo Colossi, vice president of sales, marketing and aftersales for General Motors Thailand, said yesterday.

Incredible Leg Rowers of Myanmar

One of the most picturesque spots in all of Southeast Asia, Myanmar's Inle Lake is fringed with reed beds and bamboo stilt houses, surrounded by the lush Shan hills, and home to the Inle Lake Wildlife Sanctuary. But tourists also come here in droves to watch the lake's famous, leg-rowing fishermen at work.

Inle Lake's fishermen have a unique, almost acrobatic, rowing style that have have fascinated observers for years. It consists of standing on one leg on the extreme of the boat and wrapping their other leg around the the oar, as they expertly propel their boats around the floating islands of the 11 mile-long lake.

Myanmar to participate in U.S. fishery exhibit

Myanmar is planning to participate in the international fishery and sea products exhibition in Boston, United States from the 16 to 18 of March.

This will aim to showcase Myanmar's budding potential in the international sea food and fishery market.

"We are to take part in the upcoming Boston international fishery and sea products exhibition to find a market for us. It is the largest sea food show," said Tun Aye, chairperson of the marine products exporters association.

Thailand's Political Protests Taking A Toll On Myanmar's Economic And Infrastructure Development

Thailand’s political strife is having a negative impact beyond its borders as important investment projects in Myanmar are being shelved as a result of the paralyzed Thai government.

Anti-government protests, continuing from December, are without a doubt wreaking havoc on Thailand’s domestic economy, and have all but paralyzed the government and civil service activities. As a result, major Thai investments abroad, including many planned ventures in neighboring Myanmar like the Thailand-Myanmar joint venture Dawei port and industrial zone on Myanmar’s southeast coast, have been frozen, the Irrawaddy reported on Tuesday.

Myanmar to build resorts on four islands in Taninthari Region

MYEIK—The Myeik Public Corporation will build international standard resorts on four islands located in Kyunsu Township of Taninthari Region over the next four years, according to local reports.

“Currently, the Myeik Public Corporation has fully invested in the resort construction projects. In the past few days, we have been surveying the current situation of the islands, the chosen sites for construction of buildings and the availability of fresh water. We are going to instruct the foreign experts to begin the buildings’ designs with the aim of completing construction four years after the start of the coming fiscal year,” said Thet Soe, the Corporation’s project director.

Assist Myanmar’s reform efforts

Nearly three years after its transition from military to civilian rule, Myanmar still faces a host of challenges in its path to democratization and economic reform. Japan has offered economic aid to support development of the country’s infrastructure that Japan hopes will improve the investment climate for businesses. Assistance should also be extended to help the Southeast Asian nation pursue political and legal reforms.

Myanmar has achieved rapid growth in foreign investments that have rushed into the resource-rich country as most of the economic sanctions by Western powers were lifted.

Gov’t receives management training from GE

BAGAN—The General Electric Foundation has sponsored a senior management programme for Myanmar’s government officials, developed by the Lee Kuan Yew School (LKYS) of Public Policy, company sources say.

More than 44 senior government officials from various ministries—the President’s Office, Commerce, Communications and Information Technology, Construction, Finance, Energy, Electric Power, Health, National Planning and Economic Development, and Transportation—as well as city development committees in Yangon and Mandalay, are attending the programme, which is being held at the Thingaha Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw all this week.

Dynamite Fishing in Burma’s Mergui Archipelago Proves Hard to Stop

MERGUI ARCHIPELAGO — Dynamite fishing destroys the seabed and sterilizes the sea for at least three years, killing every single fish, mollusk, coral and plant in a radius of 3 nautical miles.

The practice is nonetheless so widely used in southern Burma’s Mergui Archipelago—in at least five recorded locations: Mat Chong Phe, Chalam, the Five Sisters Island group, Lampi, Kyin Gua Chong—that the impact on the local economy is now huge.

FMI issues additional 25,000 shares for public offering

YANGON—First Myanmar Investment Co Ltd, a local investment holding company, has begun issuing an additional 250,000 new ordinary shares to be offered to the public at a price of Ks 10,000 (US$ 10.17) each, starting from January 9, company sources say.

The additional offering shall be open for 10 business days. The public is invited to place their subscriptions through the FMI Share Department and Trading Centre by 6 p.m. on January 22.

New Light of Myanmar (17 Jan 2014 - Friday)

The Mirror Daily (17 Jan 2014 - Friday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (17 Jan 2014 - Friday)

More than 50 firms to join India show in Myanmar

YANGON—More than 50 companies from various sectors in India will participate in the second Enterprise India show to be held in Tatmadaw Hall, Yangon, from January 16-18, according to the Indian Embassy.

The exhibition of Indian products and services, which will be organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Embassy of India, with the support of India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry, will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Myanmar to introduce permanent residence system for foreigners

Myanmar will introduce permanent residence (PR) system this year for foreigners, parliament sources quoted Minister of Immigration U Khin Yi as saying Wednesday.

Khin Yi made the disclosure at the ongoing parliament session in Myanmar's capital Nay Pyi Taw during discussions on the tasks to be carried out in the fiscal year 2014-15, Xinhua reported.

Khin Yi also said the government would promote the system of granting online visa.

Bangkok protests ‘cannot hurt Myanmar tourism’—Ye Htut

BAGAN—Despite recent concerns about a possible decline in Thai tourist arrivals, anti-government protests taking place in Bangkok cannot hurt Myanmar’s tourism industry, the president’s spokesperson said today.

Ye Htut, who is also the deputy minister for information, told Eleven Media on the sidelines of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting that the recent Bangkok shutdown would have minimal impact on the country’s tourism sector.

Myanmar hosts ASEAN foreign ministers meeting

The ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM), hosted for the first time by Myanmar, kicked off Thursday in Bagan, an ancient city in northern Mandalay region, with the senior officials meeting (SOM) taking the lead.

Preceding the ministerial meeting a day ahead, the SOM of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was chaired by U Aung Lynn, director-general of the ASEAN affairs department in Myanmar's foreign ministry, Xinhua reported.

Thai tourist arrivals expected to drop due to Bangkok shutdown

Foreign tourists, including those from Myanmar, are cancelling their trips to Thailand because of rising political tensions in the kingdom, according to tourism industry sources.
“Thais who have booked a place here to attend a meeting have cancelled their trips. 

Airports in Thailand are not closing yet. We can’t predict whether more tourists are cancelling their trips or not,” said Hla Aye, Managing Director of Shan Yoma travel agency.

“Some who have already made bookings have to go because they have paid their money in advance. They need to be careful, although there is no need to worry. Tourists from Myanmar are going to Thailand for medical check-ups only at this time, so we can’t predict anything.”

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Myanmar: Investment soars ahead as economy matures

Playing host to a number of lucrative industries, Myanmar’s position in the global marketplace is shifting. Based in Yangon, KBZ Group is well placed to lead the diverse investment opportunities available in the thriving nation

The investment prospects in Myanmar have taken flight in recent years, and although the burgeoning nation is partway through a phase of economic transition, investors remain guarded in light of the inherent pitfalls of committing to a developing nation. World Finance spoke to Aung Ko Win, Chairman atKBZ Group of Companies, about the investment landscape in Myanmar, the reasons underpinning recent economic growth and the many opportunities to be realised there in the near future.

Thailand's Protests Hit Tourism to Neighboring Myanmar

For three days, thousands of antigovernment protestors have filled the streets of Bangkok, clogging intersections and calling for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down. The country’s tourism industry is expected to take a major hit, with visitors from China projected to decline 70 percent in January and during the crucial Chinese New Year holiday, as my colleague Bruce Einhorn reported on Monday.

Myanmar Census 2014: Demographic, economic and social data matters to business

Myanmar has received a lot of attention from the international business world over the past three years. Since 2011 the country has undergone political reform, opening and socio-economic transformation and a sometimes dizzying process that drew thousands of business delegations to explore investment opportunities.

Despite the excitement that has accompanied the process and without discrediting the immense changes that have taken place, the country still has a challenging path ahead to democracy, ethnic reconciliation, sustainable and inclusive development. Business and economic development will play an important role in that context, for better or worse.

Japan allows multiple-visas for Myanmar

TOKYO - Japan has issued multiple-entry visas for Myanmar nationals, as part of efforts to increase Myanmar visitors to Japan and expand bilateral exchanges, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.

A multiple visa, effective Wednesday, will be valid for up to three years, allowing a bearer to stay in Japan for up to 15 days in a single visit. So far, Myanmar nationals were required to obtain single-entry visas to enter Japan.

Myanmar state mouthpiece promises 'independent' future

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar - The New Light of Myanmar, the state mouthpiece known for fiery junta-era pronouncements against international media, will be "editorially independent" when it is reborn as a partly private newspaper this year, a spokesman said.

Myanmar has sought to shed its image as an enemy of a free press by scrapping draconian censorship and allowing private daily newspapers as it implemented stunning political reforms since the end of outright military rule nearly three years ago.

Myanmar climbs in Economic Freedom index

Myanmar ranked 162 out of 178 countries on the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom compiled by The Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal and published on January 15.

Hong Kong was ranked number 1 as the state with the most economic freedom for the 20th consecutive year. North Korea came in last in the index at 178.

Myanmar steps into international role at ASEAN helm

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar, (AFP) - Myanmar begins its first international political role in decades this week as host of Southeast Asia's regional bloc, with experts warning against "over-inflated" expectations as the group grapples with territorial disputes and ambitious economic integration plans.

The country will host foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for an informal meeting on Friday in the ancient capital Bagan - the first major gathering of the group under Myanmar's debut year-long stewardship.

New Light of Myanmar (16 Jan 2014 - Thursday)

The Mirror Daily (16 Jan 2014 - Thursday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (16 Jan 2014 - Thursday)

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Myanmar's state English-language daily to be operated with private firm

Myanmar's state-run English- language daily newspaper The New Light of Myanmar said Tuesday that it will be operated in cooperation with local private firm Global Direct Link Company.

A joint venture - Global New Light of Myanmar Company - will be founded and publish the new New Light of Myanmar daily.

The Ministry of Information will hold 51 percent of the joint venture's stakes while the private company owns the rest 49 percent, according to the News and Periodicals Enterprise under the ministry.

A tale of moon and mountains

While governments typically drive basic infrastructure investments such as rural electrification and farm-to-market roads, the private sector is well positioned to help mountain communities by providing financing, market linkages, knowledge and other services.

When it came to Myanmar, there was little talk of the special needs of the nation's remote piece of the Himalayan region at a recent conference in Kathmandu on mountain poverty in the Hindu Kush-Himalayas. "Appropriate data sets," it was said, "could not be obtained and analysed for Myanmar."

Four Islands Marked for Development in Burma’s Mergui Archipelago

RANGOON — Four new tourism projects in the largely untouched Mergui Archipelago in Burma’s far south could begin this year, according to an official at the public company behind the plans.

The archipelago has more than 800 islands, covering an area of 10,000 square miles, which are rich in rare wildlife and pristine beaches. It is also home to a small community of so-called sea gypsies, who practice ancient fishing and boat building techniques and live almost entirely cut off from the outside world.

Bogyoke Market tenants appeal over eviction

Jewellery and precious stone vendors have been given until the end of January to vacate their stalls and one week to issue a public apology to the Bogyoke Market Super World owner or face legal action, a lawyer representing the owner said.

On December 21, 2013, an informal union of 30 career jewel vendors, established in the Super World hall of Yangon’s most famous market, published a sharp notice in The Mirror declaring they intended to ignore the blood-red eviction notice that was first pinned to the back of the hall on December 1.

Marubeni Corporation plans to build fertilizer factory in Myanmar

YANGON¬—Marubeni Corporation, one of Japan’s largest trading firms, has planned to expand its businesses in Myanmar including construction of a chemical fertilizer factory, sources say.

A team led by Tetsuro Terasaka, general manager at Marubeni’s representative office in Yangon, met separately with Win Tun, Union Minister for Environmental Conservation and Forestry, and Aung Naing Oo, director-general at the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration, in Nay Pyi Taw on January 8.

Despite progress, Myanmar women still at a disadvantage

Knowledge is power and Myanmar’s women deserve to have more of both, says CNN anchorwoman

Most nternational sanctions on Myanmar have been lifted and the country is rapidly changing. However, the education system is reforming in fits and starts. For more than two decades, the former military junta suppressed schools and universities fearing more student-led demonstrations. As a result, a “lost generation” of people (ages 20-40) now makes up a large part of an economy that’s playing catch-up to the rest of Asia. Furthermore, their children are going through a school system that is filled with gaps.

Yangon gov’t to sell apartments at Ks 12 million per unit

YANGON—Apartments from the Shwe Linban low-cost housing project, located in Hlaing Thayar Township in Yangon, will soon be sold at less than Ks 12 million (US$ 12,000 ) per unit, according to the Department for Human Settlement and Housing Development.

“The Yangon regional government is now discussing the sale of apartments from the Shwe Linban housing project for lower rates, at less than Ks 12 million per unit. The plans are under way,” said an officer from the department.

Some construction tasks in the project area of more than 20 acres of land will be finished by the end of this month.

The Fine Print: Legal & tax insight

In sectors where government policy prohibits 100-percent foreign-owned companies, a joint venture may be the only way for outside businesses to invest in Myanmar. But even where this isn’t the case, joint ventures are often sound decisions, as they allow access to a local partner’s market know-how, decision-maker contacts, and established supply and distribution channels.

Conversely, local partners may wish to team up with a foreign investor in order to gain access to technology, know-how, an expanded distribution network and capital. As in all developing countries, however, it is vital to conduct thorough due diligence of the local partner. This is true not only where the joint-venture company takes over an existing business but also where the object is to start a new business together.

Daewoo International starts production at Myanmar gas field

SEOUL, Jan. 13 (Yonhap) -- Trading and energy firm Daewoo International Corp. said Monday it started producing natural gas last week at a gas field off the western coast of Myanmar.

The gas field, developed since 2004, consists of three blocks -- Shwe, Shwe Phyu and Mya. The latest production has started at the Shwe block, the company said.

Daewoo International has been producing 200 million cubic meters of natural gas a day in the block of Mya since July last year. With the Shwe block now added, the company is expecting to increase its daily gas production capacity to 500 million cubic meters, it said.

Local food expo leaves consumers with sour taste

The “International Food and Machinery Expo 2014” seemed like a great event for restaurant owners and consumers alike to find international-quality items for sale last week, but some visitors were left disappointed, saying there were too few new items and even fewer international companies represented.

“I thought this expo would have new products, but I can buy these products [already] in Yangon. It’s the same companies and the same products compared with last year’s expo,” said Ma Ei Mon Htwe, who owns a small restaurant in Yangon and attended the event hoping to find new goods to promote at her restaurant.

Gunkul eyes Thai, Myanmar power sectors

Gunkul Engineering plans to invest more than Bt12 billion over the next two years to develop wind-power plants in Thailand and gas-powered plants in Myanmar.

This is part of the company's strategy to transform itself from an importer and provider of electrical equipment into a power producer in Asean.

It aims to be producing at least 300 megawatts of electricity from both alternative energy and gas in Thailand and Myanmar by 2016, chairman Gunkul Dhumrongpiyawut told a news conference at its plant in Yangon this weekend.

Companies Act update in the pipeline

A draft of the new Myanmar Companies Act, which would ease old bureaucratic processes currently slowing business, is on track to be submitted to parliament in May, experts said.

After MPs and members of the international community suggested last May that it was time to revise or replace the now-100-year-old former Burma Companies Act 1914, representatives of a number of organisations contributed to writing a new draft.

India-Myanmar to boost trade ties despite border row

Imphal, January 12 2014 : Despite intense border dispute between India and Myanmar especially on the issue of Moreh town, the two countries are taking up significant steps to boost the bilateral trade relation.

For the first time, Indian products would be on display in the ensuing three-day "Indian Products Exhibition" at Mandalay township in Myanmar from January 17 to 19.The exhibition is being organized by Mumbai-based Indian-Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and Industries (IMCCI) and Mandalay-based Indian Consulate.

Illegal mining takes its toll

A Russian mining company prospecting in the Hukawng Valley region of upper Sagaing Region said its business interests as well as continued prospects for gold mining in the area are being hindered by thousands of illegal miners.

The company, Nobel Gold, said they are concerned that these alleged illegal miners are using mercury and cyanide to increase the volume of gold extraction in the area, a process that destroys land.

KDDI, Sumitomo close to Myanmar partnership

Japan’s KDDI and Sumitomo are in line to form a partnership with Myanmar’s state-controlled mobile operator, in a move that would boost competition with Ooredoo and Telenor, which won two new licences awarded in 2013, said Reuters.

Soe Kyu, deputy general manager for Myanmar at trading company Sumitomo, said the two Japanese companies had been jointly invited into “exclusive” talks about becoming the partner of Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT).

Yangon hardware store sets up shop

The country’s first modern construction supply warehouse for home owners and construction companies is now open for business in Yangon.

The shop, Pro1 Home Center, opened its doors in Insein township on January 7, boasting an extensive stock of construction materials and international brands from roofing to flooring and various high-quality SCG products.

Hooked Up Can Myanmar benefit from ambitious regional electricity grid plan?

The last piece in a geographical jigsaw encompassing southern China and Southeast Asia in a cross-border power sharing project has been put in place.

The Thai government, distracted by renewed political upheaval on the streets of Bangkok, has finally signed up for the Greater Mekong power grid which aims to link up Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam plus regions of southern China.

The signing coincided with a meeting in the Lao capital, Vientiane, in December co-sponsored by the Asian Development Bank, which has been a leading promoter of a regional cross-border power-sharing system.

First Myanmar offers additional shares

First Myanmar Investment opened an additional public offering of new ordinary shares on January 9. The additional offering of 250,000 shares will be sold at K10,000 each, the same price as the initial share offering that closed on January 8.

After an “overwhelming” response to the initial offering of 2,500,000 new ordinary shares, which was sold in its entirety. Unable to meet demand the investment holding company has opened an additional 10 percent for purchase.

New Light of Myanmar (15 Jan 2014 - Wednesday)

The Mirror Daily (15 Jan 2014 - Wednesday)

Myanma Alinn Daily(15 Jan 2014 - Wednesday)

Insurance firms suffer under restrictive policies

Outdated policies, uncompetitive premiums and restrictive procedures imposed by the government’s Insurance Business Supervisory Board (IBSB) are hindering efforts by newly established insurance firms to find their feet ahead of a plan to open the market to international firms next year, according to industry sources.

Several privately run local insurance firms have opened their doors since June last year when 12 companies were granted licenses. The sudden opening of the insurance market broke a six- decades-old monopoly on the sector by state-run Myanma Insurance.

Myanmar's big shift

A cigarette pressed between his lips, Thiha Saw invites me to sit in his Yangon office and have a cup of tea.

A fan pushes hot humid air around the tiny barren room furnished with two desks. A stack of books piled on a nearby table includes one titled The Do's and Dont's in Myanmar.

This office is where Saw works every day as chief editor of the Myanma Freedom Daily -- one of 26 new independent newspapers in Myanmar. Prior to 2013, privately owned newspapers had not been seen in the country for nearly 50 years.

Max Myanmar in hot water over Ngapali allegations

Rakhine State chief minister orders investigation into allegations company pumped sand from the beach and illegally built a wall near its hotel.

The Rakhine State government has issued a stern warning to Max Myanmar for allegedly pumping sand from Ngapali beach and building a “wave-resistant wall” outside of its compound, amid concerns about the impact of hotel development at the popular tourist destination.

Myanmar, Thailand to implement technical cooperation program

Myanmar and Thailand will implement a technical cooperation program in 2014, official media reported Saturday.

Both sides agreed to implement a program for 15 scholarships on post-graduate study and 25 short-term training courses covering 250 fellowships in Thailand in 2014 under the Three Years Human Resource Development Programs, said the New Light of Myanmar.

Legal reforms significant, but work remains

Strenghtened laws and regulations and continued government reform made Myanmar the world’s most improved country for doing business in, UK-based global risk analytics firm Maplecroft found in a report released on January 8.

Myanmar last year made progress in tackling corruption, weak rule of law, respect for property rights and controls on corporate governance, the firm said in its annual Legal and Regulatory Environment Risk Atlas for 2014.

Despite its growth, the report shows that Myanmar remained the fifth riskiest country in the world to do business out of 173, with a rating of “extreme” – a rank worse than civil-war ravaged Syria and the Central African Republic.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Modern meets colonial in Burma Cookbook

When the Strand Hotel opened in 1901, it was one of the most luxurious hotels in the British empire and hosted luminaries such as author Rudyard Kipling, Edward VII and the Earl of Burma, Lord Mountbatten.

It’s fitting, then, that the Strand features prominently on the cover of Robert Carmack and Morrison Polkinghorne’s new Burma Cookbook, which spans the country’s culinary history from the time of empire to the present.

New Light of Myanmar (14 Jan 2014 - Tuesday)

The Mirror Daily (14 Jan 2014 - Tuesday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (14 Jan 2014 - Tuesday)

Myanmar to hold 2nd development cooperation forum late this month

Myanmar will hold its Second Development Cooperation Forum in Nay Pyi Taw in the last week of this month, state media reported Sunday.

Organized by the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development, the forum will discuss logistics and administrative arrangement (draft), said the New Light of Myanmar.

The forum will involve development partners, non-governmental organizations, social organizations and UN agencies,it said.

Myanmar shows off its soft side

On the banks of Kandawgyi Lake in central Yangon, couples sat for picnics or walked slowly with gentlemen holding umbrellas to shield the ladies from the sun. Except for the palm trees and the sight of Karaweik Hall across the water it resembled a scene from Monet. Elsewhere, couples could be seen holding hands near the Sule Pagoda and a pair of lovebirds let me capture them embracing at Yangon Central Railway Station.

These public scenes were surprisingly tender and romantic _ words that don't immediately spring to mind when you think of Myanmar.

Burmese Travelers Urged to Leave Time for Bangkok Flights

RANGOON — A Burmese travel and tour company has joined a number of international airlines in sending travel alerts to customers who need to catch flights in Bangkok on Monday, when anti-government protesters hope to block major roads in the Thai capital, although Bangkok Airways says it expect no major disruptions.

More than 18 flights run daily between Bangkok and Rangoon, and they are scheduled to depart as usual, but travelers have been urged to leave plenty of time to reach the airports in Bangkok on Monday, as protesters have threatened to block 20 main roads starting that day.

Ranong to hold bike trip to Myanmar

RANONG, 10 January 2014 Thailand's Andaman coastal province has joined hands with the Tourism Authority of Thailand organizing a bicycle trip to Myanmar.

Ranong's governor Cherdsak Champates said on Friday that the bicycle trip from the adjacent province of Chumphon via Ranong to Koh Song province in Myanmar would be held between January 25 and 26, under the theme of "Peddling your bikes, visiting two countries."

Monday, 13 January 2014

MIC allows Telenor and Ooredoo full foreign investment

Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) has allowed the two license winners, Telenor and Ooredoo, the telecommunication giants from Norway and Qatar, with 100 percent investment, sources say.

MIC gave the permission during the 1/2014 meeting held at Nay Pyi Taw on Wednesday. The proposals submitted by both companies are handed down to MIC by Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

Myanmar state-owned telecom likely to take Japanese partner

Jan 10 (Reuters) - Japan's KDDI Corp and Sumitomo Corp are likely to partner of Myanmar's state-backed telecommunications operator to expand services in one of the world's least-connected countries, a Sumitomo official said.

Sumitomo's deputy general manager in Myanmar, Soe Kyu, told Reuters the companies were jointly invited into "exclusive" talks about becoming the international partner of Myanmar Post and Telecommunication (MPT), sharing its existing licence. No further details on the likely partnership were revealed.

Thibaw, a newly attractive place for tourists

Thibaw is a city located in northern Shan State. Lately, it has become a major attraction for foreign visitors.

Over a hundred foreign visitors come to Thibaw every day, according to the hotel businessmen in Thibaw.

“More foreigners visit this year than previous. Ten years ago, they were not allowed to visit the other side of the Gote-htaik Bridge. Now the visitor number is getting over a hundred here,” said Moe Hnin Yu, an owner of Myat Yadana Hotel.

Myanmar Prepares To Host 36th Asean Ministerial Meeting On Agriculture

YANGON, Jan 10 (Bernama) -- Myanmar is preparing to host the 36th Asean Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry and other related meetings in Nay Pyi Taw in September this year, Xinhua news agency reports official media as saying.

Agricultural produce, forest and livestock farming products from Myanmar will be exhibited at the meetings as part of efforts to solicit foreign markets for the country's exports, the New Light of Myanmar said.

China expands its investment in mining sector

Sichuan Henglu Industrial Company from China and Myanmar’s Good Plus Star Mining Company have formed a joint-ventured company named GPS Joint Venture to refine lead in Kalaw Township, Taunggyi district at Shan State.

The joint-ventured company has been permitted to start operation by a meeting of Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) held at Nay Pyi Taw on Wednesday, according to an official from MIC.

Denmark forgives Myanmar debt

Debt worth 295 million kroner is cancelled in recognition of Myanmar's steps toward democracy

Denmark officially forgave 295 million kroner of debt from Myanmar at a meeting yesterday between the country's president, Thein Sein, and Development Minister Rasmus Helveg Petersen (R).

“Denmark is sending an important message to the Myanmar population – that we support the country’s positive development,” Petersen said, referring to the tentative steps toward democracy that the Myanmar regime was taking.

Myanmar launches construction and housing development bank

Myanmar has officially opened a first-of-its-kind bank yesterday in its commercial capital “Yangon”, according to sources.

Construction and Housing Development (CHD) Bank was opened on January 11 at No.60, Shwe Dagon Pagoda Road, Dagon Township in the capital.

Long-term personal loans for buying houses, apartment and condo flats are now available from the bank, according to CHD.

VDB opens in Myanmar capital

Legal and tax services firm VDB Loi, which has been present in Yangon since 2012, has opened its second office in Myanmar, in the capital Naypyidaw.

The firm plans to expand its Naypyidaw office, presently a small support hub, to a fully operational office and move it to a new facility.

New Light of Myanmar (13 Jan 2014 - Monday)

The Mirror Daily (13 Jan 2014 - Monday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (13 Jan 2014 - Monday)

New Light of Myanmar (12 Jan 2014 - Sunday)

The Mirror Daily (12 Jan 2014 - Sunday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (12 Jan 2014 - Sunday)

New Light of Myanmar (11 Jan 2014 - Saturday)

The Mirror Daily (11 Jan 2014 - Saturday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (11 Jan 2014 - Saturday)

Myanmar still a risky prospect for investors: report

Myanmar made the greatest improvements to its business environment across a global spectrum, UK-based global risk analytics firm Maplecroft found in a report released on January 8.

Myanmar has strengthened its legal and regulatory environment and the government’s reform agenda has made progress in tackling corruption, weak rule of law, respect for property rights and controls on corporate governance, Maplecroft said in its annual Legal and Regulatory Environment Risk Atlas for 2014.

Ooredoo signs towers pact

Ooredoo Myanmar, part of Qatar’s Ooredoo Group, has signed an agreement with shareholders of Indonesian tower company Protelindo, and emerging markets-focused telecom operator Digicel for the rollout of mobile towers in Myanmar to help offset the cost of investment, TMT Finance understands. Sources confirmed that a group of Protelindo shareholders were forming a towerco to invest in Myanmar.

Bankers also said Ooredoo and Telenor, which also won a mobile licence in Myanmar, were holding advanced discussions with banks over financing packages, likely to be ‘in the high double digits’, adding that this amount would increase as or when fresh capital was required.

Promoter For Myanmar's Korea Music Festival Reports Scams Days Before Tickets Go On Sale: Concert To Include Sistar, U-KISS

K-pop fans in Myanmar are so excited for the Korea Music Festival, scheduled to be held on Feb. 8 in the city of Yangon, that they are snatching up tickets before they have even gone on sale, according to promoter Pee Paw of Pee Paw Entertainment.

The Korea Music Festival bill is scheduled to include K-pop groups Sistar, U-KISS, ZE:A and After School.

"Many fans are interested in this Korea Music Festival," Paw told the news outlet Eleven Myanmar. "I heard that tickets have been sold for this concert. These tickets are not real."

Will the Asean Chair Strain Burma’s Resources?

Burma’s chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) begins in earnest next week when it hosts its first major regional meeting—a gathering of foreign ministers from the 10 member countries.

The meeting next Wednesday in Bagan will be the first of hundreds of Asean events, including two leaders’ summits, during Burma’s year-long leadership of the huge trading bloc. And 2014 is a crucial year for the 40-year-old regional grouping, as it moves toward a unified market along the lines of the European Union.

Doing Business In Myanmar: The 'Only Country To Significantly Improve' Its Business Environment

While being a difficult country in which to start a business and having atrociously high real estate prices, Myanmar is apparently making good progress in terms of “good business environment," according to a new report.

The global risk analysis firm Maplecroft published its “good business environment” list on Wednesday, in its annual Legal and Environment Risk Atlas. The U.K.-based company named Senegal, Guatemala, Mozambique and Rwanda, along with Myanmar, as the countries with the greatest improvements over the last five years to their business environment in addressing key issues and refining legal and regulatory frameworks.

ASEAN Chairmanship Offers Opportunity for Myanmar

On January 1, Myanmar assumed the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In 1997, when Myanmar joined ASEAN, the country’s membership was met with stiff resistance because of its abhorrent human rights record under an oppressive military dictatorship. In 2006, Myanmar was encouraged to forfeit its chairmanship by ASEAN out of fear that the United States and other western nations would boycott the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the bad publicity this would garner. At the time, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest, thousands of political prisoners were jailed, and political and economic sanctions by the U.S. and European Union were firmly in place.

Chinese ambassador stresses strengthening of win-win cooperation with Myanmar

YANGON, Jan. 9 -- Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar Yang Houlan stressed on Thursday development of "Paukphaw" (fraternal) friendship and strengthening of win-win cooperation with Myanmar.

Yang made the remarks in his speech at Myanmar Institute for Strategic and International Studies (MISIS) in Yangon.

Speaking on China-Myanmar relations, Yang said mutual benefit and win-win cooperation is the main tone of the relations.

Myanmar, Japan to cooperate in communication, postal service sector

Myanmar and Japan will cooperate in a range of sectors including communication and postal service sectors, official media reported Friday.

It was discussed when Myanmar President U Thein Sein met with visiting Home Affairs and Communication Minister of Japan Yoshitaka Shindo in Nay Pyi Taw.

Their discussion also covered Japan's provision of technical and financial assistance to strengthen Myanmar's police force and conducting of technical courses for Myanmar, said the New Light of Myanmar.

The Mirror Daily (9 Jan 2014 - Thursday)

The Mirror Daily (10 Jan 2014 - Friday)

Thursday, 9 January 2014

New Light of Myanmar (9 Jan 2014 - Thursday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (9 Jan 2014 - Thursday)

Civil servants to receive small pay, pension, and allowance hikes

NAY PYI TAW—The Myanmar government is planning a Ks 20,000 (US$ 20.39) salary increase for civil servants and an increase in pensions and other allowances on a proportional basis in the upcoming fiscal year, President Thein Sein said yesterday.

He made the remark during the first meeting of the Financial Commission in 2014, which was held at the Presidential Palace.

Infosys to help Myanmar develop e-governance strategy

Development comes after the visit of Myanmar's pro-democracy leader and Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to Infosys headquarters in Nov last year

With its economy opening up after decades of isolation, the reformist government in Myanmar is trying to make the country’s presence felt on the global information-technology (IT) map. The Southeast Asian nation is learnt to have roped in tech major Infosys to devise a strategy on using IT to improve governance efficiency. This would focus on grooming the local eco-system.

Mysterious spirit cave and source of gunpowder

For this intrepid travellers with a like for beautiful eerie places, Kyet Cave situated nine miles away from Loikaw, the capital of Kayah State is a must visit.

The 1700 foot-deep cave is said to host evil spirits and ghosts that are able to bestow miracles as well as evil spells. The cave is also called "Yarsu Ku" (Yarsu means gunpowder and Ku means hole) as people used to use bat-droppings found there to produce gunpowder for fireworks.

Myanmar readies for tourism expansion

YANGON, 8 January 2014: To reach 7.5 million tourist arrivals by 2020, Myanmar will need to improve human resources and offer a variety of tourism destinations, according to Myanmar Travel Association chairman, Aung Myat Kyaw.

He told local media, Tuesday, the country’s political and economic reform would help to create the environment to sustain a massive growth in tourism. He talked about pent-up demand in major tourism source markets mainly in Europe that could deliver quality tourism to the country.

There should be no compromise on Myitsone project

China Power Investment (CPI) is trying to resume the Myitsone dam project suspended by President Thein Sein on September 30, 2011.

In the more than two years since the government put the brakes on this controversial project, the Chinese company has changed its approach in its dealings with Myanmar. With strategic cleverness CPI has gone the backdoor route, speaking with political parties and other people rather than dealing directly with the government. As a consequence, the Chinese company has faced widespread criticism from the Myanmar public for its plan to resume the Myitsone dam project.

Oil Booms In Myanmar Despite Political Challenges

Global energy sources and global politics have been inextricably linked since the dawn of the industrial age. Emerging developments in Myanmar are now giving the world another reminder of the relationship between the two.

Myanmar, still known as Burma by many, was ruled for decades by a repressive military junta that kept it isolated from the rest of the world. Stiff economic sanctions were imposed by both the EU and the U.S., and while some Western energy companies were criticized by human rights groups for helping the regime elude the sanctions, Myanmar’s economy was by and large stagnant and its considerable natural energy resources largely untapped.

Shwedagon Pagoda receives record number of tourists

YANGON - The number of tourists visiting the gilded Shwedagon Pagoda was higher in 2013 than any previous year according to statistics released by the pagoda’s board of trustees.

A total of 400,852 tourists visited Yangon’s famous landmark in 2013, compared to over 271,000 visitors in 2012.

"The number of tourist arrivals increased last year. I think the number of tourists will equal the number of local visitors in the near future," said Win Kyaing, head of the board of trustee.

Myanmar ditches visa requirement for the Philippines

MYANMAR began allowing Philippine nationals to enter the country visa-free for up to 14 days on January 4, although pricing and supply challenges remain.

Simon Ang, managing director-operations at Celebrate Life TLC, said: "Yes, it's an advantage not to have to apply for a visa. The only problem is there are still no direct flights."

With flights mostly transiting in Singapore or Bangkok, Ang does not foresee dramatic growth in travellers to Myanmar anytime soon.

Furthermore, accommodation demand still outpaces supply. Ang commented: "Hotels are really booked. Four-, five-star properties have to be reserved two to three months ahead."

However, Filipinos tend to plan their travels within a shorter timeframe, he said.

Asian Wings to launch Mandalay-Chiang Mai flights

YANGON—Asian Wings airline will fly from Mandalay to Chiang Mai, Thailand starting from January 29, according to an airline official.

Every Wednesday, the airline will fly from Mandalay Tada-U International Airport to Chiang Mai International Airport using an ATR 72-500 aircraft.

Myanmar one of the top countries to invest in 2014

Resource rich countries make up over 50% of the “extreme risk” jurisdictions to invest

Investors, either focused on mining or not, will surely be surprised by the five countries global risk analysis firm Maplecroft has put at the top of its “good business environment” list, released Wednesday.

In its annual Legal and Regulatory Environment Risk Atlas, the UK-based company says thatSenegal, Guatemala, Mozambique and Rwanda are among the countries with best trade performance over the last five years.

Korea’s Exim Bank to open representative office in Myanmar

YANGON—The Export-Import Bank of Korea is now planning to open a representative office in Myanmar where there are more than 30 representative offices of international banks, according to the bank.

On December 18, the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration allowed the bank to open a representative office in Yangon to operate banking and financial services in the Southeast Asian country.

Fiscal cloud taxes Myanmar optimism

Tax reform may not be sexy, but Myanmar's fledgling market economy is in desperate need of fiscal consolidation. A combination of well-intentioned reforms and some unsavory legacies of the old military regime have left public finances in a precarious position. If the current methods of public financing are not restructured quickly, a debt crisis is a real possibility.

At present, Myanmar's public debt as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) is officially estimated at 45.7%, hardly an extraordinary figure by global standards. Even a developing country such as Myanmar, with its long history of instability and economic mismanagement, could maintain the good graces of global capital markets if public debt remained at this moderate level. 

Thilawa SEZ to attract investors with reasonable land prices

YANGON - As Myanmar’s land prices have been scaring away potential foreign investors, the Thilawa Special Economic Zone will attract local and foreign investors with lower land prices than for those in other industrial zones in Yangon, according to an official from the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI).

“Foreign investors have criticised land prices in Myanmar for being too high. So, I can guarantee that the land prices at Thilawa Special Economic Zone will be lower than those in other industrial zones,” said Win Aung, chairman of the UMFCCI and Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings company.

Hong Kong Jade Prices Soar for Fear of Burmese Jade Shortage

HPAKANT/HONG KONG — Jade dealers in Hong Kong said their businesses are suffering from soaring prices for Burmese raw jade and jade jewelry due to concerns over a drying up of supplies from the jade-mining town Hpakant, in Kachin State.

Li Qi, a Chinese jade trader who owns a shop in Hong Kong said he struggled to source Burmese raw jade for his business, which carves the gemstone and turns it into jewelry.

Li said a few years ago he was able to buy a piece of Burmese jade at trade fairs in Jieyang City, in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, for about US $2,700 and process it into a piece of jewelry that would sell at ten times the price of the raw stone.

Deadline set for Myanmar’s timber exports

The Forest Department of Myanmar has recently announced a deadline for raw log exports through Yangon ports.

The deadline is midnight on March 31, according to the department. It will allow timber to be loaded onto ships docked at Yangon ports until that time.

As of April 1, the government will only allow the export of value-added finished wood products, completely stopping raw log exports on that date.

Development partners urged to take part in Myanmar's policy making process

Myanmar President U Thein Sein has urged all development partners to take part in the government's policy making process by initiating regional development projects, state media reported on Tuesday.

Terming the development partners as stake holders rather than donors, U Thein Sein stressed the need to build mutual trust between the government's foreign aid management committee and international donors.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

More than 82,000 business tourist visits to Myanmar in 2013

YANGON—More than 82,000 tourists visited Myanmar with business visas-on-arrival last year, according to the Yangon international airport’s immigration department.

Since June of 2012 Myanmar has allowed visas-on-arrival to 26 countries, including regional neighbours. An additional 22 nations, most of them European countries, were added to the list in February 2013, running up the total to 48 countries.

The Mirror Daily (8 Jan 2014 - Wednesday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (8 Jan 2014 - Wednesday)

New Light of Myanmar (8 Jan 2014 - Wednesday)

Myanmar working on people-centred plan for 2014-15

Myanmar is drawing up a people-centred plan in a bid to achieve the goals for fiscal year 2014-15, state media Tuesday reported President U Thein Sein as saying.

The plan will be in conformity with the needs of Myanmar and its political, economic and social relations with neighbouring countries, U Thein Sein told the government's planning commission in Nay Pyi Taw Monday.

The president stressed the need to attract foreign investment to develop technology and human resources, and double domestic production in seven sectors in order to reach an 8-percent increase of the gross domestic product, Xinhua reported citing the state media.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The sum of its parts: subdivisions band-aid solution

The skyrocketing price of land in Yangon is driving many would-be developers to subdivide the large blocks in elite residential areas, a trend industry players said ultimately does more harm than good.

“Yangon’s property value has obviously excelled in the last two years, most notably in 2013,” Mya Pan Thakhin senior real estate agent Ko Min Min Soe said. “Along with property value, rents are increasing and because the rental value of land is so high, blocks are getting smaller as they are divided and sold or rented out.”

New Light of Myanmar (7 Jan 2014 - Tuesday)

The Mirror Daily (7 Jan 2014 - Tuesday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (7 Jan 2014 - Tuesday)

Electricity problems persist despite progress

Despite increased investment in Myanmar’s electricity sector in 2013, including by international financial institutions, sustainable development remains a challenge. Only 26 percent of the population has access to government electricity supplies, government figures say, while in the past year new projects to increase production and a proposal of price hikes to reduce consumption and bring sustainability brought controversy at every stage.

The nation’s energy woes were outlined in its first-ever comprehensive energy report, released in June at the World Economic Forum. At the forum, which was being held in Myanmar for the first time, a broad range of topics were discussed by national and international industry leaders, businesspeople and government officials – including the country’s present and future energy needs.

Myanmar Year in Review 2013

From the announcement of an inaugural international telecoms tender to the awarding of lucrative oil blocks, as well as the ongoing challenge for peace in the Kachin and Rakhine states, 2013 was not short of headlines for this once isolated nation.

A year after the passing of the Foreign Investment Law, the role of Chinese investors has diminished while the flow of funds from the West and other ASEAN members has increased.

Orange inks roaming agreement with MPT

The France-based telecom giant Orange has extended its roaming service to Myanmar after signing an agreement with Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) in December, an MPT official told The Myanmar Times on January 2.

The agreement enables visitors to make calls with foreign SIM cards, and also allows phones with MPT SIM cards to work in other countries, said U Aung Maw, MPT managing director.

Amid Burma Tourism Boom, Calls for Govt to Aid Development

RANGOON — The government is being urged to play a greater role in Burma’s red-hot tourism industry as foreign arrivals surpass the expected total for the current fiscal year with three months still remaining in the 12-month period.

The government last year projected that international tourist arrivals would reach 2 million by March 31, but the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism says that figure had already been exceeded by the end of 2013. According to the ministry’s latest data, the number of foreign arrivals reached more than 2.04 million by Dec. 31, counting both air and overland arrivals.

US-accredited MBA program launches

Myanmar Metropolitan College in Yangon’s Lanmadaw township has launched the country’s first US-accredited Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) program, the school announced.

The MBA program draws materials from the University of the Potomac in Washington DC in the United States, as well as Switzerland’s University of Business and International Studies (UBIS), according to Daw Myin Zu Tun, marketing director at Myanmar Metropolitan College.

Spore's Sphere Conferences & Myanmar To Organise 1st Civil Aviation Development Conference

SINGAPORE, Jan 6 (Bernama) -- Sphere Conferences, the conference arm of Singapore Press Holdings Ltd (SPH) announced Monday its partnership with Myanmar's Ministry of Transport (MOT) and Department of Civil Aviation, to organise the inaugural Myanmar Civil Aviation Development Conference 2014.

The event is scheduled to be held at the Traders Hotel in Yangon from March 24 to 26, 2014.

No sign of booze law as alcohol back on the shelves

Bottles of imported wine and alcohol are back on the shelves of major supermarkets around Yangon despite there being little movement on the part of the government to pass legislation that would legalise its sale outside of select hotels and duty-free shops.

Alcohol venders around Yangon took down their imported liquor stock early last month after following a series of government raids on distributors that resulted in the confiscation of tens of thousands of bottles of alcohol, which reappeared

Puncak Niaga sets up shop in Myanmar

PETALING JAYA (Jan 7, 2014): Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd has set up a branch office in Myanmar to explore potential water and waste water-related business opportunities there.

Puncak Niaga is already present in India, China, Singapore and Vietnam.

Gold prices start year off with a bust

The continued devaluation of gold abroad has led to a 14.73 percent drop on the local markets over the past year, shop owners said.

The current market price of one tical of 24 karat gold (one tical equals 0.576 ounces) now sits at K648,000 (equivalent to US$1133 an ounce), down from the K760,000 gold sold for in January 2013, owners said.

Filipino Workers Join Burma’s Opening Economy

MANILA — New data showing that Philippine workers based in Burma remitted US$150,000 to their homeland in 2013 is perhaps another small signal of Burma’s economic reintegration with the wider world.

The numbers, in the latest Philippine central bank statistics on remittances to the Philippines, show a rise from $0 to $150,000 for August 2013, with Burma joining the 24 Asian countries and dozens of others worldwide where about 10 million Filipinos have moved to work and send money back to families at home.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Myanmar makes full preparation to host ASEAN meetings

YANGON (Xinhua) - Myanmar is making full preparation to host various meetings during its one-year term as chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

These meetings in Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan totaled more than 300, including summits, ministerial meetings and senior officials meetings, according to official sources.

Plans have been drawn to host the first regional summit attended by more than 15,000 representatives from home and abroad.

The Fine Print, Legal & tax insight: 2013 one for the books, now on to 2014

The past year in Myanmar saw marked improvements of the legal framework for foreign investment.

At the start of 2013, the country implemented guidelines to the Foreign Investment Law, lending improved economic activity from abroad that resulted in more than 100 foreign-owned and partly foreign-owned businesses having been granted investment permits, according to a recent announcement by the Myanmar Investment Commission.

Japan to aid Myanmar minorities

Japan plans to provide 10 billion yen (3 billion baht) chiefly in grants over the next five years to Myanmar to bolster the living standards of ethnic minorities that have suffered during years of internal conflicts in the country, Japanese government sources said Saturday.

Tokyo intends to provide the aid to help accelerate ongoing peace talks between the government of President Thein Sein and ethnic rebels, the sources said.

Myanmar to host Korea Music Festival in February

YANGON - The Korea Music Festival will be held at the National Theater on February 8.

The lineup consists of actor Song II Kook and four idol groups, namely Sistar, After School, ZE:A, and U-Kiss.

"We have been planning to hold this Korea Music Festival for a long time now," said Pee Paw from Pee Paw Entertainment.

Craving adventure, travelers seek out Asia's 'hot spots'

Whether you want to feast on deep-fried scorpions, go “off the grid” in a spot untouched by tourists, spend your day watching green sea turtles or dance at a colorful festival, Asia beckons like never before.

Now, many travelers are also adding some of the more remote corners of the continent to their dream itineraries.

Bagan tourist arrivals reach 200,000 in 2013

NAY PYI TAW—Bagan received nearly 200,000 tourists from Asia, Europe, and North America last year—an increase of more than 30,000 from 2012, according to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

A total of 194,171 tourists visited Bagan last year and most of them went to the ancient city by air.

‘Responsible Tourism’

Myanmar’s tourism industry shifts into higher gear

With total international arrivals of some 1 million for the very first time in 2012, Myanmar’s tourist industry shifts into higher gear with an expected increase of up to 50 percent in 2013. Especially, the organizing of the SEA Games pushes the numbers in December 2013, while in 2014 tourist arrival to Myanmar as the last frontier to discover will surely continue to rise. But compared to neighboring Thailand with its expected 26 million tourists this year, Myanmar is still in its infancy to attract mass tourism.

Filipinos to enjoy visa-free entry to Myanmar

YANGON—Filipino nationals holding ordinary passports can enter Myanmar without a visa and stay there for up to 14 days starting from tomorrow (January 4), according to the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

The agreement between the Philippines and Myanmar governments on the visa exemption for holders of ordinary passports, which was signed during Thein Sein’s state visit to the Philippines on December 5, will take effect on Saturday.

Benefits on offer to all investors in Myanmar

Insurance against political risks from World Bank unit

Myanmar's membership in the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency will be of great benefit to local businesspeople as well as foreign investors working in the country, according to its officials.

MIGA, an arm of the World Bank Group offering political-risk insurance and credit enhancement, announced late last month that Myanmar had fulfilled all of the requirements to become its 180th member.

Myanmar to conduct survey for sustainable tourism industry

Places of interest in Myanmar like Inlay Lake and Kalaw Town and Chaungtha Beach are being surveyed the prospect of sustainable tourism in these areas, according to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

The survey will be jointly carried out by the Institute for International Development (IID) and International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). The Ministry of Tourism is also urging them to implement the survey as soon as possible.

New Light of Myanmar (6 Jan 2014 - Monday)

The Mirror Daily (6 Jan 2014 - Monday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (6 Jan 2014 - Monday)

New Light of Myanmar (5 Jan 2014 - Sunday)

The Mirror Daily (5 Jan 2014 - Sunday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (5 Jan 2014 - Sunday)

New Light of Myanmar (4 Jan 2014 - Saturday)

The Mirror Daily (4 Jan 2014 - Saturday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (4 Jan 2014 - Saturday)

ASEAN panel on investment to meet in Myanmar

Myanmar will host the 62nd ASEAN Coordination Committee on Investment in Nay Pyi Taw next weekend, state media reported Friday.

Dozens of investment officers from member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will attend the two-day meeting Jan 10-11, Xinhua reported.

Matters related to amending the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Treaty, amendment of unpermitted accounts included in the treaty, and ongoing work programmes in implementing the treaty will be discussed at the meet, said the New Light of Myanmar.

Friday, 3 January 2014

AIS goes roaming in Myanmar

Thailand's mobile leader Advanced Info Service Plc (AIS) has become the world's first operator to provide a data-roaming service in Myanmar to cash in on the growth of visitors to the formerly military-ruled nation.

"It is essential to have a roaming service in Myanmar due to the large number of Thais and foreign visitors through Thailand visiting the country," said Pratthana Leelapanang, senior vice-president for digital products and services.

Myanmar’s economy Reality check

Optimism about business prospects on the final frontier may be overblown

THE most recent edition of the World Bank’s annual “Doing Business” report is a sobering read for Myanmar. It has been almost three years since President Thein Sein came to power and launched his much-trumpeted reform programme. As part of the effort to reconnect Myanmar to the global economy, the country was included in the report for the first time in 2013. Yet the results show that it is still among the very worst countries in the world to do business.

Taiwan manufacturers to tap markets in Laos, Myanmar

Taipei, Jan. 2 (CNA) The country's top trade promotion body said Thursday that it will organize tours to explore business opportunities in Myanmar and Laos in March, targeting the industrial product market in the two countries, where demand for machinery and power supplies is high.

In Myanmar, demand for imported machinery is high in the agricultural and industrial sectors, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) said.

Foreign Booze Returns to Burma’s Shelves—For Now

RANGOON — Burma’s retailers resumed sales of foreign wines, beers and spirits just in time for New Year’s revelry as the authorities eased the threat of seizures that had left shelves empty. But imports remain restricted as the government reviews its import policy, and it remains to be seen how long the booze will last.

Restrictive government policy dating back to the former military regimes had led to widespread illegal importing of alcohol, until the Ministry of Commerce’s mobile task force initiated crackdowns on retailers’ warehouses in Rangoon and Mandalay.

IFC to cooperate with Myanmar government to generate full electricity

The U.S.-based International Finance Corporation (IFC) will cooperate with the Myanmar Government to provide full electricity, which is urgently needed to create the job opportunities that will boost development of the country’s economic sector, according to an IFC report.

“The electricity distribution system will greatly increase the prospects for boosting the economic and social sectors. We are going to work with the government to implement major hydro power projects so that all Myanmar people will soon enjoy full electricity,” said Jim Yaung Chaing, IFC’s vice-president and CEO.

New Light of Myanmar (3 Jan 2014 - Friday)

The Mirror Daily (3 Jan 2014 - Friday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (3 Jan 2014 - Friday)

Burma, Thailand push ahead with Dawei SEZ

After years of uncertainty, the prospects of the massive Dawei project took a recent twist when Thailand and Burma officially tied the knot to push the ambitious scheme forward.

With three memoranda of understanding signed by the two countries in November, the Dawei concession was transferred from Italian-Thai Development Plc (ITD) to Dawei SEZ Development Co (DSEZ), a special-purpose vehicle for the project.

DSEZ, a 50-50 venture of Thailand and Burma, now has a 75-year concession from Burma’s government to develop the special economic zone and a deep-sea port – replacing ITD, which had received the concession from the Burmese government in November 2010.

Myanmar to privatize railways soon

Myanmar’s government is planning to privatize some of the state-owned railway lines soon, including the Yangon circular railway system, according to the Ministry of Rail Transportation.

The privatization will include a Yangon circular train, a Yangon-Mandalay train and a Yangon-Myitkyina train. The privatization plan is now under way and the Yangon-Myitkyina rail line will be prioritized, the ministry said.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

What path will Myanmar take to become a global society?

WASHINGTON, December 31, 2013 ― The party of Noble Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the National League for Democracy, NLD, announced recently it will contest the 2015 elections to be held in Myanmar even without constitutional amendments. A bone of contention is that the constitution guarantees the military 25 percent of parliamentary seats, while Aung herself is barred from the elections.

Myanmar is by all appearances ending its period as a closed and isolated society. Closed societies have controlled economies, and Myanmar’s leadership is signaling that it wants to be a full participant in global society and the world economy. As President Thein Sein said, “I would like to say that I have dedicated all my efforts to achieve peace, improve the social and economic welfare of the people and create a better and brighter future for the younger generation.”

From pariah to prime time: Myanmar takes up ASEAN chair

In the new year, world attention would turn prime time to Myanmar as it assumes the coveted chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Jan 1 and leads the 10-nation group to becoming an economic community by 2015.

For India, Myanmar is not just its immediate neighbour but the "natural bridge" to ASEAN and Southeast Asia. As a full dialogue partner of the grouping, New Delhi welcomes the integration of Myanmar with the regional bloc with which its economic and security cooperation is fast expanding.

A haven next door

Travelling to Myanmar is popular among Thais, especially during the New Year and Chinese New Year holidays, as they will pray to Buddha for good luck in the Year of the Horse.

Key destinations for Thai travellers are Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Syriem, Hanthawaddy and Kyaiktiyo Pagoda. Flights to Myanmar are operated by Thai Airways International, Nok Air, Bangkok Airways and AirAsia.

Many travel agents said tour bookings to Myanmar during the New Year celebration are full.

Myanmar, Germany see economic, cultural cooperation

YANGON, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar and Germany saw economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries in 2013 encouraged by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelles's visit to Myanmar in 2012.

During 2013, the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) signed an agreement with its Myanmar counterpart, the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), to open its representative office in Yangon.

More than 100,000 ring in 2014 at annual ‘Countdown’

YANGON—“Countdown to 2014,” Yangon’s largest music extravaganza, brought together more than 100,000 people to usher in the New Year at Myoma Ground yesterday.

Organised by Myanmar Index Creative Village (MICV) in conjunction with Myanmar’s Forever Group, the second edition of the countdown party struck a chord with the younger generation, who turned out in force to revel in the riveting free concerts by some of Myanmar’s top artists.

Divided into three zones—Free Concerts, Snow Town and Food and Drinks—the countdown celebrations attracted droves of mostly young partygoers with the power of music. Alternative rock and hip-hop, in particular, appeared to go down well with the crowds.

2014 Promises to Be a Boom Year for Burma’s Gas and Oil Industry

Burma will be the focus of attention in the international oil and gas industry in 2014 as a batch of major offshore exploration licenses are awarded and more blocks are expected to be put up for foreign bidding.

Against that background, Burma is to host two major international oil industry exhibitions in Rangoon to attract more investor interest.

The winners of pending bids for 30 offshore blocks are expected to be announced soon, with some industry reports saying successful foreign companies could be named within weeks.

New Light of Myanmar (2 Jan 2014 - Thursday)

The Mirror Daily (2 Jan 2014 - Thursday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (2 Jan 2014 - Thursday)

New Light of Myanmar (1 Jan 2014 - Wednesday)

The Mirror Daily (1 Jan 2014 - Wednesday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (1 Jan 2014 - Wednesday)

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