Dec 24, 2011

Japan business missions visit Myanmar

Japanese business missions are increasingly visiting Myanmar to scout business opportunities there if democratic reforms continue under the government which in March replaced a military government.

On Dec. 12, a mission of about 30 members from the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry visited the Mingaladon Industrial Park in Yangon and inspected a Japanese-affiliated sewing plant which has been operating since 2002.

The plant's Japanese president told the mission that monthly labor costs at the plant averaged $100 (about 7,800 yen), including the company-paid portion of social security expenses and income taxes.

A member of the mission said such cheap labor costs are attractive as the plant's 1,100 workers, almost all women, produce dress shirts for the Japanese market.

The mission was the third sent by Japanese business organizations to Myanmar since this autumn.

The largest business lobby Japan Business Federation and the Japan Association of Corporate Executives sent missions to Myanmar in September and November, respectively, to meet Myanmar government officials and Japanese business officials in Yangon and the capital Naypyitaw.

According to Toshihiro Mizutani, head of the Yangon office of the Japan External Trade Organization, an average of five to six Japanese companies and industry groups have called on the office per day.

Yoshiyuki Morii, head of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.'s representative office in Yangon, said Myanmar is expected to become an emerging economy comparable to Thailand if the high-potential country with a large domestic market of 60 million people is opened.

Kohei Watanabe, Itochu Corp. adviser who headed the Japan Chamber mission, said he hoped for progress in Japanese companies' efforts to begin doing business in Myanmar as the country must open its market by 2015 when the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is set to liberalize trade among its members.

Source: The Mainichi Daily News

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