Sep 30, 2011

Myanmar investment laws for foreign businesses to open up

The Myanmar government says that foreign investments that operate in the name of Burmese citizens must be transformed into a legal foreign investment, and the government is preparing laws that will create a more favourable business climate.

The Myanmar government says investment laws will be revised to make a more favorable climate for foreign-controlled businesses in the names of Myanmar citizens.

“To attract foreign investments, we will find loopholes in the foreign investment laws to be modified to make the laws flexible. We will create a favourable condition. Now we are modifying the laws and they will be enacted soon,” Aung Naing Oo said. He did not disclose how many businesses operate in the name of Burmese citizens but are controlled by foreigners.

The government will introduce the changes because foreign-controlled businesses in the name of Myanmar citizens could harm the investment policy and the national interests in the future, Aung Naing Oo said.

He said that notifications to revoke some investment laws would be declared soon. New laws will be introduced in Parliament for approval by lawmakers, he said.

Among the proposed changes, said Aung Naing Oo, would be to allow privately owned land to be rented by foreigners, and the removal of some restrictions in exchanging foreign currencies. Currently, foreigners can only rent government-owned land.

The authorities announced the new policy in a meeting with Myanmar business owners at the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) office in Rangoon.

UMFCCI Vice Chairman Hla Maung Shwe said that one of the causes of low foreign investment in Myanmar are the existing foreign investment laws that set the currency exchange rate at just six kyat per one US dollar and other restrictions.

“The main obstacle for them is the existing [official] exchange rate of six kyat per one dollar. The second weak point is that the government could not fulfill its promises to some investments. There are restrictions. If we modify the regulations, the situation will improve,” Hla Maung Shwe told Mizzima.

If the government changes the relevant laws and allows foreign companies to do business more freely, foreign investments will increase and the country will be able to adopt technologies and promote its exports, creating more job opportunities, he said.

Source: Mizzima