Thursday, 19 June 2014

Rainbow retreats: LGBT-friendly destinations in Myanmar

While in many ways a conservative society, Myanmar on the whole is tolerant and a pleasant, safe place to travel. Kings N Queens activist Ko Tin Ko Ko provides some of his favourite destinations.

Travel is a time to relax, or at least it should be. We travel to rejuvenate ourselves after long periods of work, and that includes the LGBT community, said Ko Tin Ko Ko, a member of LGBT rights group Kings N Queens.

Ko Tin Ko Ko officially married Ko Myo Min Htet a few months ago in Yangon, but the couple hasn’t taken their honeymoon yet. The public outcry that their marriage ceremony attracted made a romantic trip difficult to prepare at the time, and since then they’ve been busy with work.

Myanmar: Adjusting for growth in the financial sector

Authorities in Myanmar are determined to foster economic progress and have placed financial inclusion on their list of priorities. In an attempt to tackle demand for increased financial services, Myanmar has taken numerous steps in the past 24 months, such as the adoption of a floating currency, liberalisation of the insurance industry and the independence of the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM). Following these adjustments, 2014 is set to see the CBM grant operating licences to foreign banks, while 2015 has been set as the target date for the establishment of the Yangon Stock Exchange.

Banking for a democratic economy?

Global media outlets were swift to report earlier this month that the Central Bank of Myanmar will grant foreign banks limited operating licences this year, but they have been deaf so far to questions raised in Myanmar’s business community about who will benefit from this move.

Will those who now pay exorbitant interest rates to domestic banks get a break, or will the crony-dominated banking industry become even stronger, squeezing even more funds from the country’s small- and medium-sized enterprises. SMEs account for the lion’s share of economic activity in the country, and could become the main drivers of a more diverse economy that will be a key component of a genuinely democratic country, economists say.

IMF: Burma’s economy is growing fast, but fiscal risks abound

Burma can expect continued strong economic growth over the next fiscal year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Tuesday, but the organisation warned that structural frailties threaten prospects for long-term growth, and urged the government to implement a “broad range of policy and structural reforms.”

An IMF delegation visited Burma between 4-17 June as part of the annual Article IV consultation process, which is intended to assess member states’ financial health and provide guidance on correcting economic problems.

Tourism insiders watching Thai crisis

Thailand's political upheaval has so far had little effect on Myanmar tourism, but is worth watching closely given the country’s importance for the industry in Myanmar, insiders say.

Bangkok is by far the largest gateway for tourists arriving in Myanmar, but tourism has weathered past crises in Thailand and this one appears no different, said U Phyoe Wai Yar Zar, managing director of All Asia Exclusive Travel Company.

“So far it’s had no visible impact on Myanmar tourism,” he said.

Myanmar's community development project to cover Nay Pyi Taw area

YANGON, June 18 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar's ongoing community-based project, supported by the World Bank, will add a township in the capital city area of Nay Pyi Taw to be covered by the project, state media reported Wednesday.

The project is being implemented by the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development and the World Bank which has distributed 80 million U.S. dollars to Myanmar's rural development and poverty reduction measures, said the New Light of Myanmar.

Investment body’s resources put to the test

As of July, the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) will no longer be based in Nay Pyi Taw or answer to the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development.

It is scheduled to move to Yangon and be restructured so it eventually operates as an independent organisation similar to the Central Bank of Myanmar.

Observers inside and outside the country will be watching closely to see whether its new status will mean greater resources and greater authority – and, if so, how MIC will use such resources. Will it prioritise the rights of the people of Myanmar or the interests of foreign investors?

Myanmar gas exports seen rising on ramping up of new China pipeline

(Reuters) - Myanmar's earnings from natural gas exports fell in the last fiscal year as more of the resource was consumed domestically but shipments of greater volumes to China as a new pipeline comes up to speed are expected to boost earnings this year.

Myanmar earned $3.299 billion from the export of gas during the 2013-14 (April/March) fiscal year, down from $3.666 billion in 2012-13 and compared to $3.502 billion in 2011-2012 and $580 million in 2003-2004, according to data released on Wednesday by the state-run Central Statistical Organisation (CSO).

Gas exports are a crucial revenue source for the Southeast Asian nation, accounting for nearly 30 percent of its total exports of $11.204 billion in the last fiscal year.

Thai coup delays visa exemption plan

Thailand’s military coup has delayed the planned introduction of a visa-exemption program for Myanmar nationals, a senior embassy official says.

Myanmar has said it wants to tie up visa-exemption arrangements with all fellow ASEAN members, but so far it has only agreed deals with Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Chainarong Keratiyutwong, deputy chief of mission at the Thai embassy in Yangon, said on June 16 that a planned deal with Thailand has stalled due to political turmoil of the past six months, which prompted the military to seize power in late May.

Jaguar aims for bite of growing premium market

BRAND-NEW Jaguars and Land Rovers will soon hit Myanmar's streets, as the British automaker last week launched its first showroom and service centre in Yangon with its local dealer Capital Automotive Ltd, demonstrating confidence in Myanmar as a market for premium brands.

Khin Tun, managing director of Capital Automotive, told Myanmar Eleven that it had taken a long time to bring the UK brand to Myanmar, but he was optimistic sales would be swift.

"I am sure we will soon see many of these new Land Rover and Jaguar models on the roads in Myanmar," he said, declining however to say how many vehicles the company expected to sell in the short or long term. "It is really hard to guess at the present," he explained.

Myanmar search engine to launch in July

As online and mobile technology takes off, how will people search Myanmar-language content? The answer is uncertain: The country has one of the lowest internet penetration rates in the world and, so far, no very good search tools. That’s why Bindez, a local start-up, is working on it.

Nurtured through Project Hub’s 2013 fellowship for entrepreneurs, the project belongs to computer science grads Ko Htet Will, 23, and Ko Ye Wint Ko, 24, who co-founded Bindez with their fellowship mentor and now CEO, Rahul Batra, 29. With a recently confirmed seed investment and a uniquely qualified team, the project is one to watch as the country makes the leap from virtually no tech to the future.

Myanmar's national park put on tentative list for world heritage nomination

YANGON, June 18 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar's Natma Taung National Park, proposed by Myanmar for inclusion in UNESCO's World Heritage List, has been put on tentative list and is to be examined in coming years by the World Heritage Committee, official media reported Wednesday, quoting the UNESCO.

Natma Taung national park lying in Chin state's Kanpetlet township and being home to more than 800 plant species, including a rich variety of orchids and several endemic bird spices, is one of two high-priority sites identified out of the seven natural sites on Myanmar's tentative list.

MTE to sell over 5,000 tonnes of hard wood

The state Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE) will be selling over 5,000 tonnes of teak, Tamalan and other raw hardwood by the end of June, according to Ministry of Forestry and Environmental Conservation.

The foreign transaction and logging department of MTE will announce a bid for over 1,700 tonnes of teak, hardwood, logs and lumber to both foreign and local companies to be paid in U.S. dollars.

A total of 321 tonnes of teak, 289 tonnes of teak-lumber, 439 tonnes of Tamalan logs, 274 tonnes of Kanyin logs, and 416 tonnes of planed lumber will be on sale at Tawwin Hall from June 27 to 30.

Community-Based Ecotourism Project Launched at Indawgyi Lake

Conservation group Flora and Fauna International (FFI) and the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, and the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism announced that they have agreed to implement a community-based tourism project at Indawgyi Lake in central Kachin State.

“[C]reating a responsible, sustainable tourism strategy that involved and engaged local communities could prevent mistakes that have been made during the development of other regions, including Inle Lake, that can lead to serious environmental degradation,” a joint a press release said on Tuesday.

Foreign companies show growing interest in Thilawa SEZ

A total of 45 companies from 11 countries – including Japan and the United States – have submitted proposals to invest in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ), a major industrial complex located on the outskirts of Yangon.

More than 17,000 intended subscribers offered to buy a total of more than 4 million shares, at the cost of Ks 10,000 (US$10) a share. Since only 2.1 million shares are still available, many had to be refunded.

Ball Corp, the American beverage cans manufacturer, and Japanese car-spare parts manufacturing company have signed a lease to set up their business in the SEZ together with the Myanmar-Japan Thilawa Development Ltd. on June 6.

Opportunities in Myanmar, but right partners stressed

Myanmar has much higher purchasing power than many people believe, and continues to offered bright opportunities, but Thai investors should carefully pick the right partners to ensure success, pioneer Thai investors and experts told a seminar yesterday.

Kobsak Pootrakool, executive vice president of Bangkok Bank, told the seminar held by the bank that Thai investors should be able to contribute to Myanmar's drive to transform from the agricultural to the industrial age, since Thailand itself experienced such a transformation earlier and knows how to boost farm productivity.

Issares Thumrongthunyawong, the chief representative of Siam Kubota Corp in Myanmar, said that country's government recently started to introduce policies and measures to aid its agricultural sector, including providing loans for rice farmers for equipment and other costs.

Myawady border trade down by US$12 million

The Myawady town on the Myanmar - Thai border has recorded over US$33 million in total trade volume over the last two months, according to the department of commerce and consumer affairs.

US$2.8 million has been earned from Myanmar exports and over US$30 million had spent on imports between April 1 to May 30 this year.

The current data shows a significant decrease in total trade volume. Trade volume during the same period last year amounted to US$46 million — US$7.2 million in exports and US$38 million on imports.

Vietnam and Myanmar Sign MoU to Strengthen Mutual Cooperation in the Banking Sector

Vietnam and Myanmar are building economic ties, primarily in the banking sector, after signing a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between a state-owned Vietnamese bank and a Myanmar industrial-related bank in Yangon earlier this month.

The two banks that signed the agreement are the Small and Medium Industrial Development Bank of Myanmar (SMIDB) and the Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV).

The Manila Times reports, “The MoU is aimed at capacity building and transfer of technology in the banking sector as well as monetary and foreign exchange activities, said SMIDB, adding that Myanmar bank staff will be provided with further training in Vietnam to serve for Myanmar’s SME sector development.”

Myanmar Airways to sign with France’s ATR

The state-owned Myanmar Airways will sign an agreement with ATR Company from France to buy six new planes and open a repair station in Myanmar.

“An MoU agreement was already signed on May 6 and the next stage is to sign an agreement at the Attorney General’s Office,” said Than Htun, managing director of Myanmar Airways.

Many local airlines in Myanmar use planes manufactured by ATR. Whenever they need to be repaired, they have to go to ATR repair stations in Malaysia or Singapore. The agreement will allow ATR to service both local and foreign airlines in Myanmar.

Fokker worked with four Burmese airlines, US documents reveal

Hit with a hefty US$21 million fine from the US government for violating trade sanctions, Dutch aerospace company Fokker Services (FSBV) was working with four airlines in Burma — one of which is owned by a Burmese tycoon with close links to the military junta.

According to a complaint submitted to the US Department of Justice, Fokker Services – a Dutch firm that provides aerospace technologies and services to airlines worldwide – worked with four Burmese airlines: Myanma Airways, Air Mandalay, Yangon Airways and Air Bagan.

The company also violated sanctions with Iran and Sudan. A total of 1,153 shipments were made to the three countries during the period of 2005 to 2010, bringing in revenues of approximately $21 million.

Myanmar invites tenders to build Thilawa ports

The Myanmar Ports Authority has announced eight construction tenders to construct a general cargo port and a container loading dock using Japanese development aid.

The port will be part of the Thilawa Special Economic Zone, an industrial complex south of Yangon, and building is due to start this year.

“We are looking for qualified international construction companies to build and quality-test purchasing equipments. In total, eight companies will be chosen,” said a responsible person from Myanmar Ports Authority.

Myanmar's economy can grow 8.5 pct in current fiscal year - IMF

YANGON: Myanmar's economy should grow 8.5 percent during the current fiscal year, higher than earlier forecast thanks mainly to rising gas production and investment, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.

In January, the IMF predicted that Myanmar would have 7.7 percent growth during the fiscal year that ends March 2015.

The fund left unchanged its forecast that inflation during the fiscal year will be 6.5 percent.

Myanmar has launched sweeping economic and political reforms under its quasi-civilian government, which came to power in 2011 following nearly half a century of military rule. The government has taken moves to attract foreign investment, create jobs and boost the country's weak infrastructure.

Kyaukphyu SEZ to finalize plan in November

A master plan for the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) will be finalised in November this year, according to the tender selection committee.

The project in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State aims to attract potential developers who will be chosen after a tender process.

“The plan will include not only Kyaukphyu area but also Ramree and Manaung Islands for development,” said Ba Shwe, a member of the Tender Invitation and Selection Committee.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Myanmar grapples with telco tower requests

A picture tells a thousand words as Ooredoo attempts to educate illiterate about benefits of online services.

As expected, building towers in Myanmar is proving a challenge for Ooredoo, which on Tuesday shed more light on the progress it has made towards its Q3 launch.

Speaking at CommunicAsia, Carson Wolfer, head of business development, partnerships and CSR at Ooredoo Myanmar, said it is not just his company that has to overcome the limitations of the country's patchwork infrastructure; the government's telco ministry has to as well.

Myanmar Trade Centre reopens after decade-long closure

The Myanmar Trade Centre will resume its operations and local businesses are expected to lease exhibition and meeting venue, Directorate of Trade, Ministry of Commerce, said yesterday.

The MTC was shut down following a bomb explosion in May, 2005. Its reopening is slated for later this month.

Business operators can lease the MTC for showcasing export-import products and other merchandise. They can also organise seminar, meeting and set up offices.

The trade experts are in the process of mapping out the strategy to enhance Myanmar’s export sector under the supervision of Commerce Ministry. The push is being financially supported by Germany Society for International Cooperation.

Myanmar needs broad reforms to keep growth rapid: IMF

WASHINGTON -- The International Monetary Fund said Myanmar’s economy is expected to build on already rapid growth but that momentum was at risk unless broad reforms are undertaken.

An IMF team met with authorities during a June 4-17 visit to Myanmar as part of the Fund’s typically annual review of a country’s economy, known as Article IV consultations.

"Myanmar is well placed to build on its recent economic reforms and embark on an extended period of rapid growth, emulating its regional peers," said Matt Davies, who headed the team, in a statement.

"However, ensuring that this growth is sustainable and inclusive requires decisive implementation of a broad range of policy and structural reforms."

Myanmar to open another trade centre on Thai border

The construction of Maisal Trade Centre in Kayah State along the border with Thailand has just been completed and the government plans to open the border gate soon.

This will be the 7th border trade centre between Myanmar and Thailand. Its construction cost a total of Ks 110 million (US$ 110,000), according to the Ministry of Commerce.

The opening of Maisal Trade Centre is planned as a pilot project for Myanmar’s national export strategy and it is expected to help boost tourism in the region.

The Ministry of Commerce drafted the strategy at the end of 2013, aiming primarily to enhance the country’s exports and explore new markets for Myanmar. A National Export Council has been set up to oversee the implementation, control and assessment of the strategy.

Thai banks line up for licences in Myanmar

The banking industry in Myanmar is a key strategic destination for Thai commercial banks as they plan for Asean integration after the Myanmar authority allows foreign banks to apply for operating licences there.

Myanmar’s central bank said 42 foreign financial institutions with representative offices there applied for its restricted banking licences.

The four largest Thai lenders by assets — Bangkok Bank (BBL), Krungthai Bank (KTB), Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) and Kasikornbank (KBank) — have a presence in the neighbouring country.

BBL, Thailand’s biggest bank by assets, has been offering financial services in Myanmar for 19 years, while KTB, SCB and KBank, which entered the market in the past couple years, have expressed interest in seeking operating licences from the Myanmar authority.

Banking – another business step of Shwe Than Lwin

The business empire under Shwe Than Lwin has proposed to open a financial institution, Shwe Rural and Urban Development Bank.

In the application for commercial and investment banking license, Shwe Than Lwin said the initial investment capital would be Ks 10 billion, partly financed by the profit earnings from the sale Sky Net TV signal receivers to the public.

In addition to the television profit, the capital outlay will come from business units like Shwe Than Lwin Trading, Shwe Than Lwin Media (Sky Net), Global Telephone and Than Lwin Ayer Gems.

All businesses under the Shwe Than Lwin empire are not listed among the 500 top taxpayers despite lucrative earnings.

AirAsia banking on Myanmar's high-flying economy

AirAsia, one of the world's leading low-cost airlines, has shown confidence in the economic growth of Myanmar and the country's tourism sector by bolstering its operations there.

Both in terms of its service and investment, AirAsia says it has been well received by Myanmar as the airline launched a fly-through service from Yangon and Mandalay, with a connection at Don Mueang Airport, to a variety of destinations, and all with a single baggage check and immigration pass.

At the same time, Thai AirAsia X has unveiled low-fare flights from Bangkok to South Korea that are serviced by the 377-seat Airbus A330-300.

Yangon is 44th priciest city in Asia Pacific

Expatriates and locals alike are complaining about the rapid increase in the cost of living

Yangon should remain an attractive work place for expatriates, if their employers base the relocation decision on ECA International’s cost of living survey.

The survey, released yesterday, showed that Yangon is the 44th cheapest city in Asia Pacific and 204th in the world.

It is the first time that Myanmar’s largest commercial city was covered in the ECA’s survey, which found Venezuela’s Caracas as the most expensive city for an expat to relocate to.

Over 30,000 foreigners visit Myanmar's world-known pagoda in May

YANGON, June 17 (Xinhua) -- A total of 30,436 foreigners visited Myanmar's world-known Shwedagon pagoda in May alone this year, according to the pagoda's Board of Trustees Tuesday.

During the one-month period, visitors from Thailand topped with 6,700 followed by the Chinese with about 3,000 and the Koreans with 2,200.

Rising rice yields seen as golden opportunity

Myanmar can more than double rice exports by improving farm productivity, cutting export costs, and opening milling sector to FDI

Once the world’s top rice exporter, Myanmar has a chance to rejuvenate its glory days if its export strategy is reviewed, the World Bank said.

The country’s rice exports could more than double if production is raised and foreign investors are welcomed into the milling sector, it said in a new report “Myanmar: Capitalising on Rice Export Opportunities”.

The report was produced by the World Bank and the Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT) of Myanmar. It highlighted that Myanmar's paddy yield was the among the lowest in Asean, at 2.52 tonnes per hectare (6.25 rai) during 2010-2012 compared to 5.60 tonnes in Vietnam, which topped the chart.

Myanmar opens doors to the world

There are lessons that Malaysia can learn from Myanmar’s journey, as much as Myanmar had learnt from us.

MY first visit to Myanmar was in 1985 – it was at a time when the country was still struggling to find its footing from years of internal strife and international disdain.

There is really no need to describe a country in this situation, where its political and economic struggles are visible in the streets and in the villages and the sad effects of poverty stare you in the face.

Over the years, I had the opportunity to visit Myanmar a few times. During my last visit a month ago, I noticed immediately a new vigour, a new energy and drive in Myanmar – I’d like to call it ambition.

Myanmar to import 500 tonnes of petrol from Thailand

MYAWADY - Aung Nan Thar Company has been given official permission to import up to 500 tonnes of petrol across the Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge after ferry services were suspended in January this year.

Border authorities have cracked down on petrol smuggling across the Thaungyin or Moei River, but this has not stopped traffickers resorting to using pipelines to smuggle fuel across the river border.

"The official importing of petrol will not be successful in the long-term if only one person is doing it. Everyone needs to do this in unison. If illegal imports continue, companies doing official imports won't be able to compete. That's why the local authorities need to help regulate against traffickers in order for the business to be successful," said an official from Aung Nan Thar Company.

Myanmar to transform current commercial tax to value-added tax system

YANGON, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar will transform the current commercial tax to value-added tax system within two or three years as part of tax reforms, state media reported Thursday.

The Large Taxpayers' Office (LTO) is also drawing the key performance Indicators and Guidelines and Rulings for taxation, said the New Light of Myanmar.

Current taxation in Myanmar comes from Commercial Tax, Income Tax, Stamp Tax and Lottery Tax.

Myanmar entrepreneurs urged to compete for regional ‘Championship’ awards

MYANMAR companies have until June 30 to apply to compete in this year’s Asean Business Awards, which will be handed out in November in Nay Pyi Taw at the Gala Dinner of the 2014 ASEAN Business and Investment Summit.

Wai Phyo, a member of Asean Business Advisory Council, which organizes the awards, is urging Myanmar companies to apply this year as Myanmar is chair of Asean. “Myanmar entrepreneurs should participate in the competition to become the nation’s pride,” he said, adding: “there are many chances [to win].”

Strengthening bilateral trade ties with Myanmar

The National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka will hold a presentation/discussion on “Bilateral Trade between Sri Lanka and Myanmar” with the participation of the Ambassador of Myanmar Min Thein Zan as the Special Guest Speaker on Thursday June 19, 2014 from 3.00 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. at the Chamber Auditorium, 450, D R Wijewardene Mawatha,
Colombo 10.

The Ambassador will be assisted by Charge d’affairs Aung Soe Moe. They will speak on the current business trend, trade potential, opportunities for export, import, investment and other services available for Sri Lankans in Myanmar. The participants will also get an opportunity for discussion and interaction with the Ambassador and the officials of the Embassy at the session.

Japanese team helps to preserve ancient temple

Japan’s National Research Institute of Cultural Properties (NRICP) is helping Ministry of Culture to survey and preserve Barkayar Temple in the ancient city of Innwa, according to the officials from NRICP.

The NRICP has been working with the ministry since 2010 to provide assistance in the restoration and preservation work for historic sites in Myanmar.

The Japan and Myanmar team is currently inspecting the conditions of Barkayar Temple in order to map out a preservation plan for the deteriorating wooden building.

Myanmar's widening rural-urban divide

Over the past years Myanmar has instituted a set of economic reforms designed to boost growth. But economist Lex Rieffel tells DW little has changed, especially for the 70 percent of the population living in rural areas.

Decades of economic mismanagement under the former junta and years of sanctions by the West left Myanmar impoverished for years. But as the Southeast Asian nation, earlier known as Burma, began to emerge from military dictatorship in 2011, most Western embargoes were lifted in response to wide-ranging political and economic reforms introduced.

Hilton signs with Eden to open five-star hotels

U.S. hotel chain Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc, has signed a joint venture with Eden Group Company Limited on June 11 to open five hotels in the next four years.

Two hotels currently run by Eden Group in the capital Nay Pyi Taw and at Ngapali beach resort will be rebranded as Hilton Nay Pyi Taw and Hilton Ngapali and upgraded to five-star hotels.

“Hilton will be taking on the management part as a priority and Eden will take on the finance,” Than Htut, Eden Group Company director told a press conference.

The renovation of the Hilton Nay Pyi Taw will be finished before November, aiming to provide up to 200 rooms for the 24th Asean Summit and closing ceremony.

Myanmar calls for promoting socially responsible media for ASEAN community

NAY PYI TAW, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar Vice President Dr. Sai Mauk Kham on Thursday called for promoting socially responsible media for the ASEAN community, stressing that media is an important channel for ASEAN peoples to promote core values of ASEAN which is unity in diversity.

Addressing the opening of the 12th ASEAN Ministers Meeting Responsible for Information (AMRI), Sai emphasized the important role of ASEAN interconnectivity with media standing as a bridge between ASEAN people to enhance friendship and understanding.

78 more foreign-invested firms arrive this year

Singapore, Japan and South Korea continue to be the top sources of foreign investment in Myanmar this year, with companies from the three Asian Tigers leading the way among the 78 foreign invested firms given permission to invest in Myanmar in the fist five months of this year.

Companies from Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Sweden, India, Brunei and Laos followed suit.

Two types of foreign investments were allowed: 100 per cent foreign-invested firms and joint ventures with local partners.

New Light of Myanmar (18 Jun 2014 - Wednesday)

The Mirror Daily (18 Jun 2014 - Wednesday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (18 Jun 2014 - Wednesday)

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

New Light of Myanmar (17 Jun 2014 - Tuesday)

The Mirror Daily (17 Jun 2014 - Tuesday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (17 Jun 2014 - Tuesday)

New Light of Myanmar (16 Jun 2014 - Monday)

The Mirror Daily (16 Jun 2014 - Monday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (16 Jun 2014 - Monday)

New Light of Myanmar (15 Jun 2014 - Sunday)

The Mirror Daily (15 Jun 2014 - Sunday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (15 Jun 2014 - Sunday)

New Light of Myanmar (14 Jun 2014 - Saturday)

The Mirror Daily (14 Jun 2014 - Saturday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (14 Jun 2014 - Saturday)

New Light of Myanmar (13 Jun 2014 - Friday)

The Mirror Daily (13 Jun 2014 - Friday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (13 Jun 2014 - Friday)

U.S Economic Engagement with Burma

Friday, 13 June 2014


EU-Funded Crisis Management Center Opens In Myanmar

The new EU-funded Myanmar National Crisis Management Center was inaugurated on Wednesday in Myanmar's capital city of Nay Pyi Taw, the European bloc said in a statement.

The ceremony was witnessed by Myanmar's Home Affairs Minister U Ko Ko, several other Union Ministers, Head of the EU Delegation in Myanmar, Ambassador Roland Kobia, and Agostino Miozzo, Managing Director for Crisis Response in the European External Action Service (EEAS).

Under the authority of the President of Myanmar, the National Crisis Management Center will support the capacity development of the national authorities to perform effective crisis- related early warning thereby better responding to crisis situations in Myanmar.

India and Myanmar a step closer to road connectivity

A delegation from India is meeting Myanmar govt officials for starting the process of finalizing the agreement for the proposed bus service

New Delhi: Myanmar has signalled its intent to resume talks on the proposal to start a bus service to India, reviving a long standing project to deepen ties between the two countries.

A delegation from India, including officials from the ministry of road transport and highways and ministry of external affairs, is meeting officials from the government of Myanmar for starting the process of finalizing the agreement for the proposed bus service, said a road ministry official on condition of anonymity.

BIDV enters partnership with Myanmar bank

HCM CITY (VNS) — The Bank for Investment and Development of Viet Nam has signed an agreement with a Myanmarese bank under which they will swap information, develop product and technical services, and support business and investment activities in both countries.

Under the deal they signed last Saturday in Yangon, BIDV and Myanmar's Small and Medium Industrial Development Bank (SMIDB) will share experiences and information about local regulations, and consider providing financial and banking products for trading and investment by businesses in Viet Nam and Myanmar.

BIDV will also help SMIDB upgrade its IT systems and make greater use of IT applications in its operations.

Myanmar’s Opportunity to Double Rice Exports and Reduce Poverty

New Report Advises Myanmar to Rethink its Rice Export Strategy to Expand Rice Production and Help Farmers Improve their Livelihoods

YANGON, June 11, 2014 - Myanmar has the potential to more than double its rice exports by diversifying and increasing rice production, opening its rice milling sector to direct foreign investments, and reducing export procedure costs, and thereby helping many rural poor to escape poverty, according to a new report, Myanmar: Capitalizing on Rice Export Opportunities, produced by the World Bank and the Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT) of Myanmar.

Improving agricultural productivity and promoting rice exports are top priorities for the Government of Myanmar. Despite its plan to export four million tons of rice by 2020, the actual annual rice export has reached only 1.3 million tons over the past years.

Investments: Negotiating With Foreign Investors

Lawyers from home and abroad provided practical advice for Myanmar companies in negotiating with foreign investors.

The beginning of this fiscal year already saw over 250 million US dollars of foreign investments.

Despite the rush in investments, industry experts believe that many Myanmar companies encounter certain weaknesses when dealing with partner foreign investors.

Vice-President, UMFCCI, DR.Maung Maung Lay: How to negotiate legally and commercially with potential foreign investors and business partners. In order to prevent our consequence and our members from being rip off and abide the foreigners and all win the good business relationship .

Rockwell Automation Sets Sight on Myanmar

Rockwell Automation will now focus on Myanmar as its next strategic market in Southeast Asia to drive further growth in its already strong revenue stream. In line with this, the company has appointed MINs Control Systems Solution Co. Ltd (MCSS) as its first Recognized System Integrator for Myanmar to meet industrial automation demand by machine builders and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), as well as end users, seeking smart, safe and sustainable solutions for improved productivity and profitability.

Concern Over US Enforcement of Burma Investment Rules

A campaign group has said it is concerned that the US government is not adequately checking American companies’ investments in Burma under the terms of Washington’s own legal rules.

When the United States suspended some sanctions against Burma in 2012, it imposed conditions on US-owned companies investing in the country to ensure transparency. These include reporting to the US State Department on any investments valued above US$500,000.

“We are concerned about the extent to which the US Administration is tracking US companies’ investments in Burma in order to ensure reporting when they reach the $500,000 threshold,” US Campaign for Burma policy director Rachel Wagley told The Irrawaddy.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Gap Is Starting To Make Clothes In Myanmar, Where Workers Are Horribly Mistreated

Gap is proudly touting its plans to start making clothes in Myanmar. One executive even called it a "historic moment" for the beleaguered Southeast Asian country. The retail giant will be the first American apparel maker to have clothes made in the country since U.S. sanctions were lifted two years ago.

But human rights advocates say, "Not so fast." Myanmar has a miserable track record when it comes to workers, who are frequently underpaid and horribly mistreated. Gap simply wants to get its clothes produced as cheaply as possible, the advocates argue, and it's dressing up the move as global philanthropy.

Gap’s entry to Burma could bring more good tidings, MGMA says

Gap’s entry into Burma could attract more foreign buyers into the fledgling garment industry, thus improving work conditions and increasing employment for workers, the chairman of Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) said on Monday.

Retail giant Gap Inc announced on Saturday that they have started sourcing products from two South Korean-owned factories in Rangoon, making them the first US company to enter the garment sector since trade sanctions were eased in 2012.

With its experience in other countries, MGMA chairman Myint Soe said that Gap’s presence is a “good opportunity” for improving workers’ rights while increasing productivity.

Myanmar hosts series of ASEAN meetings in Yangon

YANGON -- Myanmar hosted a series of ASEAN meetings in Yangon over the past three days which included ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), Defense Officials Meeting, ARF Security Policy Conference and ARF Senior Officials Meeting.

According to a press release of the meetings published on Tuesday, the ARF defense officials' dialogue discussed the role of the armed forces in non-traditional security challenges as well as the role of the military in human security.

Can Burma reclaim its status as a major rice player?

Imagine Burma being the second largest rice exporter in the world, just behind Thailand, while Vietnam is the world’s fourth largest rice importer. This was the situation in the international rice market 50 years ago. However, when you think of major players in international rice markets, Burma, officially known as Myanmar, doesn’t come to mind despite its neighbors dominating world rice trade.

It has remained close to self-sufficiency in rice for the last 50 years and despite exporting rice in most years, much smaller nations like Uruguay and Cambodia have been exporting more rice in recent years. This is despite the fact that Burma is the seventh largest rice producing country in the world. It has been exporting rice to sub-Saharan African countries and its neighbor Bangladesh, but these trade volumes are not consistent year to year. Instead, it may be argued that Burma sees international rice markets as a way of getting rid of surplus rice stocks.

Business hub sets up shop in Dagon

The York Center office building on Yangon’s Yaw Min Gyi Street aims to open its door this month, offering minimum six-month leases to firms looking for office space.

Scipio Services has agreed to a management services agreement with the property owner, rather than developing the project through a long-term lease on Build-Operate-Transfer terms often employed by large foreign firms, according to Scipio managing director Brett David Miller.

Long-term leases are suitable for firms with longer horizons, such as hotels, but often have high capital requirements and a permitting process that can be discouraging to smaller foreign investors with shorter investment horizons, he said in a press release.


Hilton Nay Pyi Taw and Hilton Ngapali Beach Resort to open in October 2014 as first Hilton-branded properties in Myanmar

YANGON, Myanmar and MCLEAN, Va. - Hilton Worldwide today announced the signing of management agreements with Eden Group Company Limited for five Hilton Hotels & Resortsproperties in Myanmar.

The partnership with Eden Group represents another significant milestone for Hilton Worldwide's expansion in Myanmar, following the company's earlier announcement in 2013 as the first western hotel groupi to have signed an agreement to operate a hotel in the country.

Under the agreement with Eden Group, two of the Group's recently opened properties in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, and on Ngapali beach in Rakhine State will be rebranded as Hilton Nay Pyi Taw and Hilton Ngapali Beach Resort respectively, and are scheduled to welcome their first guests as Hiltons in October 2014. Three other hotels will open in the next three years, namely: Hilton Bagan and Hilton Inle Lake in 2016 and then the Hilton Mandalay in 2017.

When do foreigners pay tax in Burma?

With the liberalisation of the political landscape in Burma, many people have become aware of the significant potential of this economic frontier that was once closed to the world. A number of multinational corporations are exploring Burma and will bring in experienced expatriates to help build capabilities locally.

This is not something new but, given Burma’s emerging-market status along with tax laws and practices that change frequently, vaguely written and consequently open to interpretation, investors need an up-to-date understanding of the tax situation. This article describes some of the more important issues arising from the employment of expatriates.

Golden Myanmar to resume Imphal-Mandalay flight

IMPHAL, June 8: Myanmar private airline, the Golden Myanmar Airlines will once again start its chartered Mandalay-Imphal flight from June 27, said proprietor KB Enterprises Kunjabihari during a press conference at the Hotel Imphal.

Special secretary, Transport, H Luxmikumar said that the flight was made operational some months back with a tie-up between KB Enterprises and the airlines.

Being a new route, certain issues had risen, however, it is hoped that the problems would be sorted out soon, he observed.

Mergui Archipelago’s Kadan Island Slated for $4m Resort

RANGOON — The Myeik Public Corporation plans to invest US$4 million in a resort on Kadan Island in the Mergui Archipelago next year, according to Kyaw Myo Paing, the manager of the firm.

The company, which earlier this year disclosed that it would spearhead four new tourism projects in the largely untouched Mergui Archipelago, said this week that it was revising those plans. The first project, at Kadan, will break ground in March of next year, Kyaw Myo Paing told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

Under its initial proposal, the Myeik Public Corporation was eyeing four islands—Khuntee (or Gabuza) Island, Eastern Sula Island, Langan Island and Tanintharyi Island—but the firm has since shifted its gaze toward Kadan, the archipelago’s largest island. Kadan lies some 15 miles west of Myeik, a coastal town on the Burmese mainland that serves as the region’s commercial hub.

Myanmar, Vietnam step up economic cooperation

YANGON, June 9 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar and Vietnam are stepping up economic cooperation especially in the banking sector following the signing of a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between a state-owned Vietnamese bank and a Myanmar industrial- related bank in Yangon last weekend.

The MoU was signed between the Small and Medium Industrial Development Bank of Myanmar (SMIDB) and the Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV).

The MoU is aimed at capacity building and transfer of technology in banking sector as well as monetary and foreign exchange activities, said SMIDB, adding that Myanmar bank staff will be provided with further training in Vietnam to serve for Myanmar's SME sector development.

Burma Should Prioritize Agricultural Reforms, Says Retired Official

RANGOON — Thein Swe is a retired director of the foreign economic relations department at Burma’s Ministry of Planning and Finance who once served as an associate executive director at the World Bank.

He also lectured at Payap University in Thailand in international studies, and currently works as a consultant and technical assistance coordinator for the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

In an interview with The Irrawaddy’s economics reporter Thit Nay Moe, he said he thinks the agricultural sector should be prioritized in Burma’s ongoing economic reforms.

Myanmar's matriculation pass percentage drops

Myanmar's high school matriculation results for the academic year 2013-14 show a decline in the pass percentage as compared with the previous year's results, media reports said Sunday.

Out of a total of 541,946 students enlisted for the matriculation examination in March, only 171,647 students or 31.67 percent passed, Xinhua quoted the examination board as saying.

The highest pass percentage was in the southwestern Ayeyawaddy region, while the number of students who failed the exam was higher in the far-flung corners of the country.

Thai rice pushes Myanmar out of Africa

Myanmar rice exporters are being undercut in the important African markets by a flood of exports as the Thai junta offloads millions of tonnes of stored rice at discounted prices, according to Myanmar rice trading officials.

Myanmar 25 percent broken rice had been commanding about US$335 per tonne in African market, a competitive price compared to previous Thai prices of $400. But the Thai military junta that came to power in a May 22 coup has lowered prices to $320 per tonne in Africa in a bid to offload rice stocks purchased during the government of Yingluck Shinawatra, Myanmar traders said.

Myanmar to tighten rules for bus drivers in Yangon

YANGON, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar will tighten its enforcement of rules for bus drivers in Yangon as part of efforts to reduce traffic accidents in the capital city, official media reported Friday.

Altogether 41 people died and 358 others were injured in 122 road accidents occurred in the January-May period this year, said the New Light of Myanmar.

Nine traffic rule enforcement groups are patrolling Yangon to check the vehicles.

Govt inspects tax liabilities of tax-evading cronies

The government is checking the actual tax liabilities of the business corporations which did not include in the top tax payers list, including Shwe Than Lwin (Sky Net), Dagon International and Asia World, according to the Deputy Information Minister-cum- president spokesperson Ye Htut.

The Weekly Eleven has printed the news “Govt needs to clarify obvious protection of tax-evading companies” on 1st June.

US aims to boost investment in Burma

Spending two days in Burma as a part of a commercial diplomacy tour in Southeast Asia, US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker inaugurated a commercial service office at the US embassy in Rangoon on Friday.

Commercial service offices, as explained to DVB by Andrew Leahy of the US embassy, serve as “an advocate and liaison for US businesses attempting to invest in a particular country,” and work “directly with US businesses interested in learning more about a country or navigating the country’s economic environment.”

Pritzker’s regional tour was touted by the US Department of Commerce as one intended to elaborate on the economic dimension of President Obama’s pivot to Asia, with time spent in Burma intended to encourage the “building of soft and hard infrastructure necessary to support the growth of emerging partners.”


As first American retailer in Burma, Gap Inc. invests in women's advancement program

[Rangoon, Burma] - [June 7, 2014] - Today at a signing ceremony attended by U.S. Ambassador to Burma, Derek J. Mitchell, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)/Burma Mission Director, Chris Milligan, Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) announced that the company is partnering with USAID to invest in the social and economic growth of Burma. By producing its products from two factories in Rangoon, Gap Inc. becomes the first American retailer to enter the Burma market. The company's partnership with USAID will help lay the foundation for Gap Inc. to provide growth and economic opportunities for women in the country.

President urges anti-corruption commission to act freely

President Thein Sein has urged the anti-corruption commission to act freely in accordance with law during a meeting with ministers and deputy ministers at the presidential palace in Nay Pyi Taw on June 11.

The president called for a clean government and administration, congratulating some departments for improving and reprimanding others for being stuck in their old ways. He encouraged the use of rewards and punishments and said that the government will carry out a survey to assess the capacity needs of civil servants.

“Especially in places like ports, jetties, airports and city development projects, departments have to abandon the unwanted ways. The ministers and deputy ministers need to take care of these departments to gain people’s trust and to increase better services,” said the President.

Myanmar promotes alternative destinations to ease strain

MYANMAR is ramping up efforts to develop new destinations within the country as well as promote travel during rainy season in a bid to make its tourism industry more sustainable.

While the plans fall short of offering incentives to hoteliers and travel companies to develop destinations outside of key hubs – namely Yangon, Mandalay, Inle and Bagan – authorities hope they will help resolve some of the capacity issues affecting the industry.

Said Kyi Thein Ko, secretary-general of Myanmar Tourism Federation: “People can arrive in Yangon, spend some time sightseeing then move on to destinations such as Pha-an (in Kayin state), which has lovely hot springs and some unique local hotels. The (tourism) ministry is now also promoting Min Tak in Chin state, which is excellent for trekking.”

Stakeholders urge govt for more transparency in hydropower and mining

The multi-stakeholder group (MSG) comprising of government officials, civic bodies and investors has urged the Myanmar government to increase transparency in hydropower and mining sectors.

Myanmar is currently applying to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global coalition of governments, companies and civil society working to improve openness and accountability around the extraction of natural resources.

“We’ve seen that the investment in hydropower sector topped nearly US$90 billion. The government should publicise which industry has been contracted and which is still at negotiation stage. Similarly, the mining sector has seen US$8 billion in official investment, but this could actually be around US$16 billion. These sectors should be included in EITI to unveil them to public,” said David Allan from Spectrum Group, an advisory body in industrial, environmental and human rights issues.

Future looks bright for Yangon hotel market

From a dearth of international-standard accommodation, the city looks set for a boom

The social and economic reforms that began in Myanmar in 2011 have allowed tourism to flourish in the country. In the former capital city and still the commercial hub, Yangon, international arrivals grew 46% from 550,000 in 2012 to just over 800,000 in 2013.

The number of arrivals in Yangon remains relatively small compared with the 26 million visitors the Department of Tourism says descended on Bangkok last year. But Yangon’s undersupplied hotel market has attracted strong investment interest, which is driving hotel supply to grow rapidly.

Tourist arrivals continue to surge in Mandalay

Myanmar’s second largest city saw a 12 per cent rise in tourists in the first four months of this year, over the same period last year, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism said.

Tourism Minister Htay Aung said 80,000 tourists visited Mandalay in the first four months of the year, nearly half the number it received last year when 200,000 tourists visited the city.

He made the remarks during a meeting at the end of last month with tourism business owners, managers, and guides from Mandalay.

Myanmar's Thilawa gets first investors

A Japan-funded special economic zone project in Myanmar received its first investors on Friday as US firm Ball Corp and a Japanese auto-parts maker signed contracts to set up manufacturing plants.

In a ceremony at a hotel in Myanmar's commercial city Yangon, the US beverage container maker Ball signed the first lease contract to set up businesses in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone, a Japanese-funded redevelopment project near Yangon.

Ball plans to invest US$40 million (1.3 billion baht) in building a beverage can plant at Thilawa SEZ to supply Coca Cola Co's Myanmar joint venture firm Coca Cola Pinya Beverages and several other local, regional and multinational customers, according to the company.

Myanmar, S. Korea step up economic cooperation

YANGON, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar and South Korea are stepping up economic cooperation, as part of which the two countries have signed an agreement on bilateral investment promotion and protection.

The signing took place Thursday in capital Nay Pyi Taw on the occasion of S. Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se's official visit to Myanmar.

During his visit, Yun exchanged views with his Myanmar counterpart U Wunna Maung Lwin on promoting bilateral relations and cooperation.

Myanmar President U Thein Sein and Speaker of the Parliament and the Lower House U Shwe Mann also met Yun separately and held talks on bilateral trade and investment, as well as technical and financial aid for the development of Myanmar, especially the development of its agricultural and rural sectors.

Thailand’s Coup May Affect Burma’s Oil and Gas Sector

The military takeover in Bangkok is likely to lead to Thailand competing with Burma for foreign investment in oil and gas development.

Within a week of the military takeover, the permanent secretary to the Ministry of Energy, Norkun Sitthiphong, said his office was working on a set of reform and development proposals for presentation to the national council.

“Items in the new energy work plan include initiating a bid round for upstream blocks, LPG price adjustments to reduce the gap between the transport sector and households, as well as approval of a power development plan, all of which are to be achieved within the next six months,” a Platts energy analysis report said.

U.S. commerce secretary in Myanmar to discuss investment promotion

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker met Myanmar President Thein Sein on Thursday and discussed promoting investment with a focus on energy, agriculture and trade, state media said.

During their meeting at the presidential palace in the administrative capital Naypyitaw Thursday morning, they also discussed the planned opening of the Foreign Commercial Service, an outpost of the U.S. Commerce Department, in Yangon, Myanmar's commercial hub, the reports said. The details of the talks were not immediately available.

Rental fees in Yangon still on the rise

The rental fees for houses and apartments in Yangon will be increasing until July, according to the real estate experts.

The monthly rent for housings varies between Ks 200,000 to 300,000 (US$200 to 300) for an apartment; Ks 2.5 to 30 million (US$2,500 to 3,000) for a condo; and Ks 4 to 5 million (US$4,000 to 5,000) for a proper house.

“As there is influx of foreigners to Myanmar this year, the leasing of houses, condominiums and apartments is most common,” said Yi Mar Swe from the Myanma Aungmyay Estate Business.

New Light of Myanmar (12 Jun 2014 - Thursday)

The Mirror Daily (12 Jun 2014 - Thursday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (12 Jun 2014 - Thursday)

Banking on Myanmar - A Strategy for Financial Sector Reform

New Light of Myanmar (11 Jun 2014 - Wednesday)

The Mirror Daily (11 Jun 2014 - Wednesday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (11 Jun 2014 - Wednesday)

New Light of Myanmar (10 Jun 2014 - Tuesday)

The Mirror Daily (10 Jun 2014 - Tuesday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (10 Jun 2014 - Tuesday)

New Light of Myanmar (9 Jun 2014 - Monday)

The Mirror Daily (9 Jun 2014 - Monday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (9 Jun 2014 - Monday)

New Light of Myanmar (8 Jun 2014 - Sunday)

The Mirror Daily (8 Jun 2014 - Sunday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (8 Jun 2014 - Sunday)

New Light of Myanmar (7 Jun 2014 - Saturday)

The Mirror Daily (7 Jun 2014 - Saturday)

Myanma Alinn Daily (7 Jun 2014 - Saturday)

Thai coup delays car imports to Myanmar

Around 1,000 cars of different brands are waiting to be imported as border trade remains limited due to Thailand’s political situation.

The Thai-Myanmar friendship bridge crosses the Thaungyin River which marks the border
between the two countries. Since a military coup, border trade has been limited to basic
commodities and only at certain hours of the day, severely hampering local businesses.

Protecting Myanmar's rich plant biodiversity is major goal of new NYBG program

As Myanmar emerges from decades of upheaval and isolation, The New York Botanical Garden has launched an ambitious conservation and training program to document the country's remarkably rich plant life, build the country's capacity to carry out plant research, and promote the sustainable use of its forests.

Myanmar is a major biodiversity hotspot, with diverse habitats boasting a wide range of plant species that are likely found nowhere else, yet it has probably the most poorly studied flora in the Northern Hemisphere. The country's scientific infrastructure—the human and institutional resources needed for significant research—has suffered from decades of neglect. As a result, conservation efforts in Myanmar are hindered by a lack of basic information.

Shwelinpan low-cost housing to go on sale

Apartments in the Shwelinpan low-cost housing project in Hlaingthaya Township will be sold by end of June, according to Department of Human Resettlement and Housing Development.

The project so far has ten buildings, each four storeys high with six apartments per floor,
comprising of 468 square feet each. Prices range from US$13,000 and U$12,500 and civil
servants will be prioritised through an instalment system.

“Selling of apartments is planned through the housing and development bank of the
Department of Human Resettlement and Housing Development. Initial payment is 30 percent as and the rest will be paid in instalments,” according to a responsible person from the Ministry of Construction.

Myanmar Needs Modernized Mills to Increase High Quality Rice Exports, Says MRMA

The Myanmar Rice Millers Association (MRMA) has stressed the need for setting up modernized rice milling units in the country to be able to increase exports of high quality 5% brokens, according to local sources.

The MRMA noted that Myanmar’s high quality 5% broken rice (locally known as Tann Myint) has huge demand from Europe and Japan but local millers lack facilities to meet the demans. They say sophisticated milling units with rice polishers and colour sorter machines, which can produce high-grade 5% broken rice, are needed to abreast with the market needs. Currently, there are less than ten high-tech and modernized rice mills that can produce 100 to 400 tons in the country, according to the MRMA. Owing to the high cost of producing 5% broken rice, most of the millers have stopped its production. 

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Myanmar’s rubber plantations facing losses due to price drop

A number of rubber plantations are operating at a loss due to falling price of natural rubber which drops to US$1,700 per ton this month from $2,600 at the end of 2013.

Rubber farmers have aired their grievances, particularly the widening deficit between production cost and selling price.

Farmers growing inferior rubber varieties are hardest hit by the price drop. Local rubber price hinges on the international price fluctuation. In booming market, rubber price used to soar to $3,000 per ton.

Myanmar will spearhead 20 years of ASEAN growth, says Manners

Myanmar will be the strongest growth story of the next 20 years in a booming ASEAN region, according to Prusik Asia manager Heather Manners.

Citywire + rated Manners said the opening up of the country for new investment and development will drive huge growth across the wider ASEAN region.

In addition, Manners, who runs the soft-closed Asian Smaller Companies fund, is also tipping the Philippines to grow strongly over the next few years.

Manners believes the time is right for a raft of financials services firms and local brands to expand across the wider ASEAN region, which is home to a population of 600 million.

Vietnamese investors’ rising interest in Myanmar

More than 50 business groups from Vietnam have been conducting market research in Myanmar in order to look for investment opportunities, said Pho Nam Phuang, director of Investment and Trade Promotion Centre, on Friday.

The research is being conducted at shopping malls and supermarkets in Yangon and Mandalay, she said in the press conference at Union of Myanmar Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“The research will cover customer’s habits and obstacles to Vietnamese companies operating in Myanmar. The results would be submitted on relevant ministries in coordination with UMFCCI," said Myo Thant, joint secretary general of UMFCCI.

Gap to Be 1st US Retailer to Enter Myanmar Market

Gap Inc. has announced plans to produce clothing in Myanmar, the first American retailer to enter the market since the Southeast Asian country began its transition to democracy three years ago.

Two factories in the commercial capital, Yangon, are reportedly producing vests and jackets for the company's Old Navy and Banana Republic brands. They will be ready for sale in the U.S. by this summer, according to a statement released Saturday by the U.S. Embassy.

While Asian nations have long had a strong presence in Myanmar, it's only in the last few years that companies from North America and Europe have started returning, thanks to the easing of sanctions imposed on the country during its half-century of military rule.

Toyo radiator plant to locate in Thilawa SEZ

Toyo, a business conglomerate from Japan, will invest and construct its plant for car radiators in Thilawa special economic zone, said Ichiro Maruyama, minister-counsellor at Japanese embassy.

“Japan’s leading manufacturer for motor parts is preparing to build its plant in Thilawa SEZ. Myanmar Japan Thilawa Development is in talks with the company. The plant would be established in Myanmar. Raw material would be imported from Japan for the production of vehicle spare parts,” he said.

Myanmar confirmed the next ASEAN Travel Forum in Nay Pyi Taw

BANGKOK - In 2015, ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) will be held in Myanmar for the first time since its inauguration in 1981. Myanmar was supposed to host the event already in 2006. But a tense political situation in the country forced the then military government of Myanmar to relinquish –on its own decision- the hosting to the Philippines.

A decade later, Myanmar is step by step turning into a normal country. Freedom is now better assured and the country is not anymore considered as a pariah state by the rest of the world.

The 34th edition of the ASEAN Travel Forum has been confirmed to take place from January 22 to 29, 2015 at the Myanmar International Convention Centre in Nay Pyi Taw with the Travel Expo (Travex) will be organized from January 27 to 29.

Myanmar investors wooed to buy Sichuan property

Singapore-based LUXE Real Estate has organised a promotional event in Yangon, convincing Myanmar investors to buy Chinese apartments worth US$150,000 each in Chengdu, Sichuan.

“Regarding our property construction in Chengdu, inquiries come from several countries. The reason we choose Myanmar is because of good ties and increasing trade (with China). We understand the country has large investment in Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand, said Calvin Chao, a LUXE official.

He said Sichuan, located in the Northwest of China, was on the verge of property development boom and that real estate price would significantly increase for the next five years.

Joseph Tan Jude Benny: Bring Myanmar up to speed

Singapore: For the last year Singapore lawyer Jude Benny has been working with the government of Myanmar to help the country modernise its maritime laws.

The 56-year-old managing partner of Singapore law firm Joseph Tan Jude Benny LLP has an office in Yangon and is now one of the world’s experts on Myanmar maritime, a sector many are eyeing with excitement.

Plenty of shipping lines are looking at the Southeast Asian nation as an up and coming cargo growth area, but Benny warns patience is needed.

Kyaukphyu SEZ to move out of mud volcano effects

Plans are underway to reassign the Kyaukphyu special economic zone to a new site away from mud volcano effects in Rakhine State.

The present designated plot for project development is located within the range of environmental impacts from active mud volcano, making it difficult to obtain insurance coverage.

Financial systems to be exported to Myanmar

Financial Services Commission (FSC)Chairman Shin Je-yoon has agreedwith Myanmar policymakers to exportcorporate credit rating and otherfinancial systems to the country.

The FSC said Thursday that it willdispatch financial policy advisors toMyanmar to support Korea's CreditBureau (CB), a Seoul-based credit-evaluation-service system for financialfirms, and a corporate credit rationingsystem to be adopted there.

Chairman Shin attended the Korea-Myanmar ADB Financial Forum onJune 2 to share Korea's financial development experience and promotepartnership.

Companies pour cash into battle for Facebook ‘Likes’

Businesses are becoming increasingly aggressive in their efforts to encourage Facebook users to click “Like” when they come across their page, with some resorting to lucky draws and gifts to increase the number of “Likes”, information technology professionals say.

The war for “Likes” has even extended to the Facebook pages of news outlets, with 7Day Media briefly overtaking Eleven Media after a vigorous months-long campaign.

Yan Naung Soe, managing director of Myanmar Soft-gate Technology, said the effort to increase Facebook likability was not new. He said it began with advertising companies trying to impress clients by getting Facebook users to “Like” Facebook pages that were advertisements.

Myanmar Readies Itself For Competition Law

BANGKOK, June 5 (Bernama) -- Senior officials from Myanmar's Ministry of Commerce (MoC) and other related institutions attended a training course on Competition Policy and Law (CPL) recently at the Chiang Mai University.

The training from May 19-29 was aimed at improving understanding about the benefits of fair business competition, and also substantiate the ongoing national consultations over a draft competition law in Myanmar, said the Asean Secretariat in a statement here.

The Secretariat said with reference to regional and international good practices, the training discussed the main provisions of competition laws and considerations for a suitable institutional set-up.

US-based Ball Corp to invest in Thilawa SEZ

Ball Corp, the American beverage cans manufacturer, will invest US$40 million to build its plant at Thilawa special economic zone, according to the company’s announcement on Friday in Yangon.

“We are a leading manufacturer of steel and aluminium cans,” said a company official.

The company signed a lease to set up its business in the zone which is a Myanmar-Japan joint venture.

Myanmar aquarium construction to start in June

YANGON, June 4 (Xinhua) -- The construction of the Myanmar Aquarium will commence at Kandawgyi Garden in Yangon later this month, official media reported Wednesday.

The Myanmar Aquarium will showcase 45 species of local fresh water and salt water fish, said the New Light of Myanmar.

The design of the main building of the aquarium and "Under Water World" will be provided by Singapore-based Surbana Consultants Pte Ltd, with SIPM Consultants Pte Ltd responsible for the construction management.

Telenor to debut cheap SIM cards in September

Telenor will introduce its telecom service in September by selling SIM cards for Ks 1,500 (about US$1.60) apiece, company said in a press release.

It will not be necessary to register in advance to buy a Telenor SIM card. Customers can buy as many SIM cards as they like as long as they can show a National Registration Card, Telenor staff said.

Internet speed on the 3G network will depend on how many users are surfing in a particular area, but the lowest speed should range from 700 Kbps to 1 Mbps at peak user time and the highest from 4-6 Mbps, Telenor staff said.

Myanmar to invite tenders to upgrade 30 domestic airports

Yangon - Myanmar will soon call tenders from local and foreign firms to upgrade 30 domestic airports, a senior aviation official said Wednesday.

"It will take at least two or three months to prepare to invite investors," said Kyaw Soe, director of the Department of Civil Aviation’s (DCA) Aerodrome Standard and Safety Division.

The DCA said the airports will be handed over to the winning firms either as 100 per cent privately owned investments or joint ventures, or as build-and-operate projects, depending on the potential of each project.

Survey commences on railway to China

Ground surveys are underway to prepare for the construction of a railway linking Kyaukphyu township in Rakhine State with China, through the border town of Muse in Shan State, a report by the Ministry of Rail Transport on Monday said.

The report notes that religious and historical buildings are located on the 950 kilometre (590 mile) route, the report said. The ministry pledged that it would adhere to international standards in the project and that it would proceed with transparency. Monday’s report, however, provided little information.

Hopes rise for Myanmar to chart a greener path

Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Civil society groups focused on land use in Myanmar are taking hope from a recent speech from the country’s top environmental official, who said his newly liberalizing country was “fully committed” to sustainable forest management.

U Win Tun, the Union Minister for Environmental Conservation and Forestry, told attendees at the Forests Asia Summit in Jakarta this month that Myanmar was taking steps to “changing [its] economic path from brown to green” and fuel growth that does not come at the expense of its forested landscapes — as many of its more-developed neighbors have experienced.

Myanmar seeks to export timber products to EU

YANGON - After banning timber exports, Myanmar is now working to export finished wood products to the European Union (EU), according to the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry.

To legally export wood products to the EU, the government has to become a member of the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) and through a voluntary partnership or VPA that includes commitments and action to halt trade in illegal timber.

On May 28, Win Tun, minister for Environmental Conservation and Forestry, met with EU representative Isabel Faria De Almeida to request technical aid and open more training courses.

Brand USA’s Opportunity in Myanmar

U.S. firms have an opportunity to undertake some consequential commercial diplomacy.

This week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker is leading a delegation of American CEOs to Myanmar – a country whose opening remains filled with peril and promise. Escalating violence against Myanmar’s Muslims has caused more than a thousand deaths; the destruction of more than ten thousand homes, mosques, and schools; and the displacement of nearly 250,000 people in the past two years. Yet from negotiations to end multiple civil wars to economic and legal reforms, there is hope that one of Asia’s poorest countries – where one in four people live below the poverty line – can be stabilized and uplifted.

Massive Rakhine SEZ to be built by three companies

Construction of the massive Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone in Rakhine State will be divided into three parts, with separate companies selected for each one, a member of the bid evaluation and awarding committee said.

Tenders for construction of the 404 hectare SEZ, located on an island in the Bay of Bengal off Rakhine State, will be divided into three sections: one for the deep sea port, another for industrial zones and a third for housing estates, committee member Ba Shwe said.

He said the consortium hired to oversee construction of infrastructure for the project would also advise on the tender process, which will adhere to international standards.

A Little Too Off the Beaten Path in Burma

It only took three days to hike a remote route to Inle Lake, but the spontaneous trek turned into a wild adventure filled with monks, a fired guide, and a land untouched by tourism.

The bus from Yangon deposited us at our destination in the dark and cold early hours when most people are still asleep. That’s what we had hoped to be doing, but a locked gate stood between us and the unlit guest house where we had planned to catch a few hours of rest. Tired, hungry, cold, and stranded in the middle of a mountain village, we realized our trek through Burma’s Shan State was turning out to be even more spontaneous than we had planned.

Garment sector sees more investment

Six foreign invested and three local invested firms were given the green light to invest at the first meeting of newly-reorganised Myanmar Investment Commission on May 31.

The meeting was held at Yangon Region branch with 43 items on the agenda, including investment proposals.

The companies receiving approval included garment makers, surgical-equipment producers and a petroleum distributor. They were from Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea and China.

Serbia to expand economic ties with Myanmar

YANGON, June 3 (Xinhua) -- Serbia has vowed to expand economic ties with Myanmar by further investing in the country's electric power, rail transportation and infrastructure projects, Myanmar's state media quoted a Serbian diplomat as saying on Tuesday.

Serbian Ambassador Miodrag Nikolin told the New Light of Myanmar that these projects are mostly conducted by or through the Serbian Invest-Import Company which has been present in Myanmar for more than a half of the century.

Myanmar sees influx of tourists since April

Over 300,000 international visitors have entered Myanmar since the beginning of the fiscal year on April 1, most coming from Thailand, according to immigration authorities.

“Visitors from Thailand rank first with over 50,000 in number, followed by China and Japan,” said an official from immigration control in Yangon International Airport.

Telecoms access becomes a closer reality in Burma

Qatari telecom Ooredoo announced recently that it will make mobile phone and Internet available to 30 percent of Burma’s population by the end of September, according to The Irrawaddy. That’s a tall order in a country that currently has about a 10 percent mobile penetration rate, and where most of the population cannot afford phones or an Internet connection in their homes. But Ooredoo and fellow telecom Telenor knew what they were getting themselves into when they were awarded prized licenses to operate in the developing country, and are now poised to benefit from a nation that only recently opened up to foreign investment after decades of oppression under a military junta.

‘The Transformation Underway Is Real and It Is Rapid’

RANGOON — Singapore-based United Oversea Bank (UOB) has had a representative in Burma since 1994, and is working with foreign investors entering the country.

Ian Wong, UOB managing director and head of international, answered The Irrawaddy’s questions by email, discussing foreign direct investment (FDI) trends and the upcoming licensing of foreign banks.

Myanmar firms compete for place on Yangon Stock Exchange

Yangon - Myanmar will allow five companies to be listed on the Yangon Stock Exchange when it is launched next year, local media reports said Monday.

"Six local public companies have applied to be listed on the Yangon Stock Exchange and we have already granted permission to two companies," Deputy Finance Minister Maung Maung Thein told The Standard Times.

"To ensure the quality and compactness of the stock exchange we have decided to go with just five companies initially although there have been many applications," he said.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Gov’t to exempt export tax for small businesses

The government is planning to collect value added tax in advance instead of commercial tax, and to scrap taxation on small export businesses according to Min Htut, Director of the Internal Revenue Department.

“Currently, it has been reduced step by step to use value added tax instead of commercial tax. Soon, we are planning to exempt export tax to zero percent. Money that export business people have to pay will be returned. The next thing is that there will be vouchers with security marks at every step,” said Min Htut.

Myanmar is planning the tax exemption ahead of its joining the ASEAN Economic Community on December 31, 2015.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Myanmar: A perfect opportunity for Japan

Three weeks ago I returned to Yangon, where I had lived for over three years as a boy, for a brief sojourn as visiting professor at Yangon University. The flame trees, which blossom with the rain, color the sky with a beautiful red at the beginning of each rainy season, just as I had remembered them half a century ago. Much else, however, had radically changed, and not necessarily for the better.

Workshop on export standard for SMEs products to open

The workshop for upgrading export products involving small and medium enterprises will take place on June 6-to-11 in Bahan Township, Yangon.

Under the theme “Standardisation and Technical Transfer for Agro-based Products”, the workshop is expected to help SMEs products to penetrate the world market.

The Startup Life In A Country That's Just Getting Smartphones

YANGON, Myanmar -- Tucked on the second floor of a turquoise building with peeling paint is a five-person tech startup that shares an office with Linn Construction, a property developer. Thar Htet, a cherubic 29-year-old Yangon native who dreams of Google-style success, does double duty as the founder of the app company, Zwenex, and a manager of the construction firm -- a family business that's currently helping to keep his tech venture afloat.

It's a telling sign of the state of the startup scene here in Yangon. Elsewhere, creating smartphone apps is largely considered the most nimble and least expensive path to riches. In Myanmar, which three years ago emerged from the 40-year yoke of a military dictatorship, it's the brick-and-mortar real estate business that has to bankroll the digital endeavor.

Parboiled rice price to be 15 per cent cheaper than white rice

The distribution and sale of parboiled rice will be launched costing 15 per cent less than that of white rice per sack, said Thaung Win, secretary of Myanmar Rice Millers Association.

“Relevant authorities, including Myanmar Rice Millers Association and the Ministry of Health, have jointly certified that parboiled rice is suitable for consumption. It is nutritious and has vitamin C. It will be cheaper than white rice and packaged in small sack for the convenience of consumers,” said Thaung Win.

The mill construction to house 10 imported parboiled rice machines is 90 per cent complete and the production at full capacity can reach 300,000 tons, according to Ye Min Aung, board director of Myanmar Agribusiness Public Corporation.

As Myanmar Modernizes, Architectural Gems Are Endangered

Decades of socialism and military rule kept Myanmar — or Burma, as it was known — poor and isolated.

There was one upside, though. The economy was so lousy, there was no drive to demolish the big British colonial buildings in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, and replace them with the glass and steel towers that now define much of the skylines in East Asia.

Today, downtown Yangon looks refreshingly different from practically every other sizable city in Southeast Asia. It's a colonial time capsule with block after block of old buildings featuring columns, domes, balconies, art deco trim, even a clock tower.

Shwe Taung-YCDC property development project launched

The joint property development between Shwe Taung Group and Yangon City Development Committee has kicked off.

The development, known as Junction City Project, will comprise two phases – the construction of five-star hotel, shopping mall and office tower for the first phase followed by serviced apartments and banquet hall.

Shwe Taung Group said the first phase will commence this year and complete by 2016. The construction of 25-floor hotel with 348 rooms has started.

Extended sanctions put Myanmar’s burgeoning economic development at risk

Myanmar, which has undertaken sweeping democratic reforms since 2011, is still suffering international pressure. The US recently extended some economic sanctions against Myanmar for another year, citing concerns that the country's reforms may stall. There are worries that this will strike a blow to the democratically transforming country, which is wooing foreign investors. How are the reforms going in Myanmar? How will this apparent US "carrot and stick" approach affect Myanmar? Global Times reporter Yu Jincui interviewed two scholars on these issues.

Yangon Stock Exchange to list five companies

The authorities have decided to list just five companies for the launching of Yangon Stock Exchange, scheduled for October 2015, according to the Ministry of Finance.

“We received applications from six local public companies and approved two. We know several corporations are qualified but to ensure quality and compactness of the stock exchange, we have decided to go with a few,” said Dr MaungMaungThein, deputy minister for finance.

He said the listed companies would be strong enough to guarantee profit for investors.

Typewriters, Telegrams Cling to Life in Myanmar

Perched on a stool on a bustling sidewalk in Myanmar's biggest city, an elderly gentleman pecks away on a clunky manual typewriter. It's a will, Aung Myint says, barely looking up as his fingers rise high over the keys and hammer down with a steady sense of purpose.

He points with his chin to the stack of papers he still needs to get through before he heads home, 30 or more, many of them legal papers hastily delivered by lawyers who work at the courthouse down the street.

Reminders of a bygone era cling stubbornly and quaintly in Myanmar, a country that was in many ways frozen in time during a half-century of dictatorship and self-imposed isolation. Now, three years into the Southeast Asian country's bumpy transition to democracy, smartphones and computer shops are common, but so are phone stands and typists. Even telegrams have not quite made their exit.
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