Oct 31, 2011

Myanmar officials call for more FDI

SENIOR Myanmar officials attending the 8th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, China, last week urged potential investors to pay more attention to the nation’s underdeveloped manufacturing and service sectors.

U Aung Naing Oo, deputy director general of the Directorate of Investment and Company Registration under the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development, said during a seminar titled “Golden Land” that Myanmar had successfully attracted investment in other sectors but manufacturing and service had not seen the same interest.

He said that of the US$36 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) contracted in Myanmar since the country opened up in 1988, 40 percent had been spent on electric power and 38pc on oil and gas, while manufacturing had attracted only 5pc and tourism 3pc. That investment had come from 450 companies from 31 countries, with China and Thailand the major investors, contributing 26.6pc and 26.5pc respectively.

He added during the October 22 seminar that Myanmar offered attractive investment potential in agriculture, livestock, fisheries and many other services.

The seminar attracted mostly Chinese listeners, who heard that China’s official investment in Myanmar was mostly put into power generation and oil and gas at 54pc and 31pc respectively, with a further 14pc in mining.

Only 1pc was invested in manufacturing.

At the end of the seminar, a listener asked what guarantees the government was able to offer potential investors in light of the recent suspension of the multi-billion-dollar Myitsone dam in Kachin that was to be built by state-backed China Power Investments Corporation.

U Aung Naing Oo replied that the previous government had not considered public opinion when it granted approval for the project in 2006.

But after the new nominally democratic government took over in March the public and environmentalists were able to make their opposition to the project known.

He added that the suspension, announced on September 29, had also hurt Myanmar investors, both private and public.

Minister for Commerce U Win Myint led another seminar on the same day during which he called for increased cooperation in the agriculture field, which would boost both sides.

U Win Myint also said the expo was a platform for business cooperation that businesspeople from across ASEAN, including China, could access to help themselves make new contacts.

Vice president of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry U Zaw Min Win said the newly elected government was doing what it could to attract investment.

“It’s a good time to invest in many sectors. Myanmar has lots of resources and many different crops can be planted there that can be profitable for the investor and the country,” he said.

He added that the country was preparing for the full implementation of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area in January 2015.

Under that agreement China imposes zero tariffs on 91.5pc of products imported from ASEAN countries, with the average tariff rate down to 0.1pc for those that are taxed.

The six original ASEAN countries have also implement zero tariffs on 90pc of Chinese commodities, with only 0.6pc tariffs charged on those products that are taxed. The four newer ASEAN members, including Myanmar, will achieve this goal in 2015.

U Zaw Min Win told The Myanmar Times on October 23 that China would likely assist Myanmar’s automobile industry in future and was also keen to invest in solar energy and the processing of agricultural produce.

Source: Myanmar Times