Nov 30, 2012

Myanmar vows to fight corruption effectively

The Myanmar government Friday vowed to fight corruption effectively, warning that corruption is an unacceptable and unpardonable misconduct in building a disciplined democratic nation and affects the dignity of the nation and the people.

In a statement on anti-corruption issued on Friday, the Home Ministry said the government is rewriting a new bill to replace the existing Suppression of Corruption Act 1948 to meet the demand of the present time and international norms.

The statement invites citizens to openly complain about bribery cases to the Bureau of Special Investigation and the Head Office of the Home Ministry.

The statement pointed out that the culture of demanding for bribes in the form of cash gifts still exists in the government departments and private enterprises as well as in interaction between government staff and departments.

It called for public participation in the elimination of bribery and corruption to ensure good governance and clean government.

Source: Xinhua

Vietnamese mobile telecom company steps into Myanmar

Vietnam's state-owned company -- Vietnam Mobile Telecom Services Company (VMS) has stepped in Myanmar market, launching a representative office in Yangon, official media reported Friday.

The move shows Vietnam's vision on market opportunities in the Myanmar telecom industry.

Nguyen Dang Nguyen, deputy director of Vietnam Mobile Telecom Services Company (VMS-MobiFone) and chairman of Vietnam Post and Telecommunication Group(VNPT)-Global, said Myanmar is altering daily to encourage foreign investors in different fields, especially the telecommunication and information industry.

VMS, which is leading mobile operator in Vietnam, was founded in 1993 as the first GSM 900/1800 and 3G mobile operator in Vietnam. VMS sells service under the MobiFone brand, being voted as the most favorite network in Vietnam for 6 consecutive years since 2006 at annual Vietnam Mobile Awards ceremonies organized by VietnamNet.

Vietnam's contracted investment in Myanmar hit 41.796 million U. S. dollars in four projects as of July 2012 since Myanmar opened to foreign investment in late 1988, according to Myanmar official statistics.

Source: Xinhua

Citizen investment amounts to 2 trillion kyats

As Myanmar businesspersons have increased their investment of 565 billion kyats (US$662.76 million), the total amount of their capital has amounted to 2 trillion kyats in 2012, according to the statistic of Directorate of Investment and Companies Administration.

Most of the local investments have flowed into construction, transportation, real estate and manufacturing sectors. Between the first week of October and the third week of November, 3.6 billion kyats of the local investment were invested in the manufacturing sector, 58 billion kyats in the transportation sector and 32 billion kyats in the real estate sector.

The largest local investors in November were the KMA Shipping Co., Ltd. with 58 billion kyats investment in transportation sector, and the Royal Hi-Tech Group with 32 billion kyats in real estate business

Investment volume of the locals was just over 1.4 trillion kyats by October 2011, which increased from 949 billion kyats in November 2010. The current investment volume is 12 times the amount of 2009.

According to the new Myanmar Citizens Investment Bill, the local investors can enjoy tax exemptions for five executive years on imported goods, machinery and vehicles to be used in their own industries.

Source: 11 Media Group

Shangri-La plans to complete $100m commercial complex in Yangon by 2015

About US$100 million will be invested to build the Traders Square Commercial Complex near the Traders Hotel in downtown Yangon, an official from the Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts says.

A stake driving ceremony took place on November 14 and the construction is expected to finish by 2015.

“The project also includes a parking lot for over 600 cars. Upon completion, the space problem for offices and others can be solved,” Myint Swe, Yangon Region chief minister said at the ceremony.

Traders Square Commercial Complex will have a three-deck basement for car parking. Shangri-La has plans to build more hotels in other cities such as Mandalay and Bagan. It opened the Traders Hotel in Yangon in 1996.

Source: Eleven Media Group

Nov 28, 2012

Myanmar needs to harness energy resources to power growth: ADB

Myanmar needs to develop its vast energy resources to promote growth and reduce high poverty incidence, the Asian Development Bank said.

The Manila-based lender released Tuesday its initial assessment of Myanmar's energy sector. The report showed that the country has abundant energy resources which can be tapped for power generation and oil and gas exploration. The most notable of these resources are hydropower and natural gas.

The hydropower potential of the country's rivers is estimated to be more than 100,000 megawatts. The country also has a proven gas reserves amounting to 11.8 trillion cubic feet and is supplying natural gas to Thailand.

Despite having these resources, Myanmar's current per capita electricity consumption is among the lowest in Asia. Biomass accounts for nearly 70 percent of its domestic energy source. Electrification rates range from 67 percent in Yangon to as little as 16 percent in rural areas.

The ADB said energy resources were not harnessed owing to several problems that plagued Myanmar for decades. These include limited capital; lack of qualified personnel; poor legal and regulatory frameworks; and a lack of coordination and planning among seven energy-related ministries.

"Myanmar's energy sector has suffered from decades of under- investment, and only one in four people currently have electricity access," Anthony Jude, Director of the Energy Division in ADB's Southeast Asia Department, said in a statement.

With Myanmar opening up, Jude said it's possible to use domestic energy resources to power the country's development. But this can only be possible through enforcing environmental and social safeguards.

The ADB said international investment in Myanmar's energy sector could focus on medium- and long-term planning; rehabilitation works in power generation, transmission, and distribution; and the construction of gas power plants in Yangon; the construction of a 500kV transmission line from the north to Yangon; an integrated, comprehensive plan for hydropower development; and the rehabilitation and upgrading of coal and gas- fired generation plants, refineries, and natural gas pipelines.

Source: Xinhua

Nov 27, 2012

MDR eyes Myanmar's telco industry

MDR Ltd is planning to set up a joint-venture company with three other firms to break into the telecommunications industry in Myanmar.

MDR signed a non-binding heads of agreement with Be-Well (Myanmar) Company Ltd, Be-Well Corporation Pte Ltd and Avitar Enterprises Pte Ltd, to form a JV firm. MDR will hold a 51 per cent stake in this tie-up.

The JV company aims to provide after-sales services for telecommunication devices.

It is also looking to provide exclusive consultancy and retail franchisee procurement services for Myanmar-based Golden Myanmar Sea Co Ltd (GMS).

Source: The Business Times

Nov 26, 2012

Myanmar's Monywa copper project comply with national law: officials

The Monywa copper mine project in Myanmar's northwestern Sagaing region, is being carried out strictly and scientifically in accordance with Myanmar's law, international standard and religious procedure, responsible project officials of investing companies of Myanmar and China told a press conference here Monday.

The copper extraction project has been jointly undertaken by the Myanmar Economic Holding Ltd (ECL) and China's Wanbao Mining Ltd and Yang Tze Copper Ltd legally registered in Myanmar after a Canadian company, the Ivanhoe, pulled out two years ago.

The officials from both sides refuted the allegations of the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) airing from outside Myanmar on Oct. 9 that the companies intentionally carried out mine explosion work at the worksite near a local Buddhist pagoda which was destroyed.

U Maung Maung Tin, Director of Project Planning Department of the Myanmar EHL denied the allegation, clarifying that the information was not true but was a fabricated one.

He added that the so-called destroyed Buddhist pagoda is still in existence and the mine explosion work was conducted about 500 meters away from the object without hurting it.

U Myint Aung, another responsible official of the project also said, in addition to the still existence of the old pagodas in the old places, new pagodas were also built in area where the local villagers were relocated to make way for the project.

Recently, a report was filed to the parliament's Mineral Resources Commission and the Human Rights Commission who visited the site successively. The report clarified that the copper mine project was implemented strictly in accordance with the standard of the international environmental demand, having obtained three certificates of International Standard ISO 14001, ISO 9001 and OHSAS 18001 since 2003.

The project is supervised by the third party of Singaporean experts who inspected the project once six months, he said.

Upon regular check, the water safety level in the area conformed to the required standard, he added.

When asked about the compensation given to the local farmers for moving their house for the implementation of project, the Myanmar officials said through negotiation, they have done so in accordance with the new highest standard in order not to let them suffer.

Geng Yi, general manager of China's Wan Bao company and Yang Tze Copper Ltd , reiterated that the Chinese companies are legally registered foreign invested ones in Myanmar and all its projects are carried out under the country's law, while respecting the nation's culture, customs and religious practices.

However, since the start of the implementation of the project early this year after taking over from Canada's Ivanhoe, few local villagers were first dissatisfied with the project generating some problems with the project which is merely an economic issue. Later, with political instigation, it has been misguided and developed into a series of political protests by local villagers since the past two months, complicating the issue, some analysts here viewed.

Source: Xinhua

UAC eyes Myanmar for projects

The MAI-listed Universal Adsorbents & Chemicals Plc (UAC) will expand its alternative energy and water management projects into Myanmar, with the initial investment set at 2 billion baht.

Kitti Jivacate, the president and chief executive, said the move is expected to double the company's profit margin from 8-10% now.

UAC started out as a chemical trading company that counted the Siam Cement and PTT groups among its main customers.

It has since diversified into alternative energy and water management, both of which generate greater profit margins and more sustainable growth.

The company has earmarked 2 billion baht for the Myanmar projects, with funding to come from a capital increase through a rights offering (RO) and public offering (PO), with warrants issued to existing investors.

Details will be disclosed sometime next month for the RO and at the end of next month the PO.

The warrant exercise period has been set at three years while the capital increase is expected to be completed early next year.

UAC currently has paid-up capital of 198.37 million baht or 276,474,739 shares at a par value of 50 satang apiece, and the RO, PO and warrants will add 132 million shares.

Domestically, a petroleum production plant with annual capacity of 19,681 tonnes is planned for Sukhothai province.

This project will transform crude oil into compressed natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas and natural gas liquids.

This project will require an investment of 620 million baht and start operating in next year's first quarter.

Annual revenue from this facility will be an estimated 200 million baht.

UAC also plans 10 compressed biomethane gas (CBG) projects on its own and six others with partners.

Each one will cost 60 million baht to develop, making UAC's total investment 600 million for the wholly owned projects and 180 million for the the joint ventures.

All CBG projects will be built and start operating next year.

They have been granted tax privilege for eight years.

Another project is a biodiesel plant in Chiang Mai province that will also start operating next year.

UAC has also agreed to join with Hydrotek Plc, another MAI-listed firm specialising in water management, in starting two water supply projects in Myanmar.

One is slated for Yangon at a cost of 800 million baht and the other for Mandalay at a cost of 300 billion.

Both will have local firms for minor partners.

UAC projects revenue next year at 1.1 billion baht, up from 1 billion expected this year.

Next year's profit margin will increase to 15% from 8-10% this year due mainly to the further diversification into alternative energy.

Mr Kitti said half the company's revenue will come from these business areas two years from now, up from 10-15% now.

Combined annual revenue will reach 2 billion baht in a few years, he said.

"Our main problem at the moment is a shortage of engineers to man all the projects," said Mr Kitti.

UAC posted a nine-month net profit of 103 million baht, up from 78.5 million in the same period last year.

For the third quarter alone, net profit was 30.2 million baht, up from 17.5 million.

Shares of UAC closed Friday on the MAI at 7.40 baht, unchanged, in trade worth 3.51 million baht.

Source: Bangkok Post

Nov 24, 2012

Hotel boom in Yangon

Yangon, the biggest commercial city of Myanmar, now hosts approximately 8,000 hotel rooms but the number could rise by 36.7 per cent per annum during 2012-2016.

A new report of Jones Lang LaSalle, a property consultant, shows that due to supply shortage against the large number of visitors to the reopened country, average room rate (ADR) has been growing by 350 per cent from 2007 to 2012. New supply growth is based on the assumption that all projects which are underway or in the pipeline are completed.

There has been tremendous growth in visitors to Yangon in the past year as Myanmar began economic and social reforms, and as a result, hotels are now experiencing significant growth in demand from both corporate and leisure travellers. However, major international brands are relatively scarce in Yangon due to the economic sanctions that have prohibited American and European hotel operators from entering the market.

"We expect hotel supply in Yangon to grow rapidly in the coming years, as a result of this shortage of rooms and pressure from the government to increase capacity. We are estimating supply will increase by around 37 percent per year up to 2016. However, given the continued growth in visitor arrivals, construction lag and potential economic, legal and political risks, we anticipate that Yangon will experience a major shortage of hotel rooms for the next five to ten years until substantial room supply enters the market. The expected supply and demand dynamics over the next few years will give operators the opportunity to substantially increase room rates," said Andrew Langdon, senior vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle.

The market is not without challenges; land acquisition is difficult and sources of funding remain opaque. Certain projects in Yangon are fairly speculative and there is a fair chance they will not move forward. However, Myanmar's new foreign investment law (introduced this month) is aimed at bringing in foreign capital to rapidly address numerous shortages and to grow the economy. The law stipulates that foreign investors will not require a local partner to set up a business. Foreigners will be able to own 100 percent of a company in Myanmar, with any share in a joint venture with a domestic partner mutually agreed upon by both parties. In addition, investors will enjoy various tax incentives such as income tax exemptions of up to five consecutive years, while land leases have been extended to 50 years with options from the government to extend an additional two 10 year periods.

In light of the projected influx of demand over the coming years and limited room supply of international standard in Yangon, hotels have been aggressively renegotiating contracts with travel agents in an effort to increase rates. In response, the government has implemented a USD 150 rate cap to try to mitigate the higher room rates, but this cap is only applicable to lead-in rooms sold to travel agents / tour operators and is due to expire at the end of March 2013. Most hotels have been running at full capacity during weekdays throughout the year and also at weekends during the high leisure season.

"Despite the challenges, Yangon is positioned to grow much faster than many other emerging markets in Asia and is likely to generate high levels of growth across all industries, albeit from a low base. The opportunities in all sectors of real estate are particularly attractive with a severe shortage of supply in the office, hotel, residential and retail sectors. In the hotels sector, even if international hotel supply triples in the next several years, the Yangon market still offers plenty of opportunities for early movers, given the severe lack of current capacity," Langdon concluded.

Source: The Nation

FMI permitted to run private airline

The First Myanmar Investment Co.,Ltd. has obtained permit to operate a private airline, said Thein Wai, chairman of the company on November 22.

The FMI Air Charter was established on September 9, 2012, and offers daily flights between Yangon and the new capital Nay Pyi Taw. “Now, our company is permitted to operate a private airline. We will also extend charter flight schedules across the country,” said Thein Wai.

FMI was one of the earliest public companies formed, following the country’s adoption of market economy system and the promulgation of the Myanmar Investment laws in the early 90s.

Established in 1992, it became an instant success with local investors hungry for professional investment management.

Source: Eleven Media Group

English Premier League does first TV deal in Myanmar

The English Premier League has become the latest business to profit from the easing of trade sanctions with Myanmar by agreeing a three-year TV rights deal in the Asian country.

The rights have been bought by locally owned SkyNet, the biggest pay TV company in the former British colony.

“Despite intense competition from international companies SkyNet is delighted to be able to offer the world's most followed football league to its viewers,” SkyNet Managing Director Daw Myint Myint Win said in a statement.

Some commentators say the overall value of Premier League TV rights - foreign and domestic - could top 5 billion pounds (RM24 billion) for the three seasons starting in 2013-14.

Source: Reuters

Nov 23, 2012

Myanmar’s GDP growth to rise to 6.25% next year, IMF says

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday projected a rise in Myanmar’s economic growth rate to 6.25 percent next year as a result of recent economic reforms and increasing foreign investment in natural resources and commodities exports. It praised the reforms and said new policies could turn Myanmar into “Asia’s next rising star.”

The IMF projected GDP growth to accelerate to 6.25 percent in in the fiscal year 2012/13, up modestly from an estimated 5.5 percent growth this year and 5.3 percent in 2010/11. Myanmar’s GDP in 2010/11 was US $45.4 billion, according to IMF data.

In a statement, the fund lauded the Myanmar government for embarking on a historic set of reforms to modernize and open up its economy, which it said could facilitate strong and inclusive long-term growth that reduces poverty.

“These reforms are already bearing fruit. Growth is expected to accelerate to around 6.25 percent, bolstered by foreign investment in natural resources and exports of commodities,” said IMF Mission Chief Meral Karasulu. “With a commitment to strong reforms, Myanmar has the potential to vastly improve the living standards of its people and emerge as Asia’s next rising star.”

The IMF mission chief visited Myanmar this month to hold discussions on macroeconomic policies with Burmese Finance Minister Win Shein, Central Bank Governor Than Nyein, parliamentarians and representatives of the private sector and donors. Discussions on clearing Myanmar’s external arrears were also progressing, the IMF said.

IMF said inflation has declined and should remain moderate at around 6 percent next year. The exchange rate has been stable in recent months, with international reserves increasing to $4 billion, it added.

The fund stressed the need for the government to continue implementing well-paced economic reforms, which were begun about two years ago.

“Myanmar remains one of the poorest countries in Asia, with economic development stymied by many distortions. On the macroeconomic front, the government’s overarching priorities are two-fold: to maintain stability during the transition process, and to build the modern tools and institutions necessary to manage a rapidly changing economy,” it said.

Macroeconomic reforms should focus on three key areas, the IMF said: consolidating exchange rate unification, developing a consistent monetary policy framework and containing fiscal deficits, which will set the stage for higher and stable revenues.

“In all of these areas, the IMF will continue to provide technical assistance to the Myanmar government,” Karasulu said, adding that other international financial institutions and bilateral donors are also supporting the authorities’ broader reform efforts.

The IMF recently re-engaged with the Myanmar after the government began political and economic reforms. In May, the fund published its first report on Myanmar in decades and in July it opened an IMF office for Myanmar in Bangkok, Thailand.

Source: Irrawaddy

US play for Myanmar trade turf

After years of almost unchallenged dominance, China’s influence in Myanmar is under threat as the United States and other nations seek closer ties with the former pariah state, experts say.

The Asian economic powerhouse has long helped keep Myanmar afloat through trade ties, arms sales, and by shielding it from UN sanctions over rights abuses as a veto-wielding, permanent member of the Security Council.

In return, China was assured of a stable neighbour and access to Myanmar’s oil, gas and other natural resources.

But since Myanmar’s military ceded power last year, China has lost some of its leverage over the country formerly known as Burma.

European and US firms are no longer banned from doing business there, leaving them scrambling to catch up with rivals from China, India and elsewhere in Asia in the competition for its resources and consumer markets.

US President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Yangon this week was the clearest indication yet of the sea change in relations under way between Washington and Myanmar.

Myanmar is now in the process of reversing its long-standing dependence on Beijing, said Renaud Egreteau, a Myanmar expert at the University of Hong Kong.

“It’s clear that the monopoly era is finished,” he said, while adding that “strong influence will remain.”

The US diplomatic offensive, part of a strategic “tilt” towards the Pacific in the face of a rising China, became clear with a visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a year ago and has frayed nerves in Beijing.

“America will use more non-military means to slow or obstruct China’s rise,” according to Yuan Peng, director of the China Institute of Contemporary International Affairs.

Washington will pursue its goal “by strengthening alliances and upgrading partnerships and driving wedges in China’s relationships with North Korea, Pakistan and Myanmar,” he wrote in a commentary earlier this year.

China and Myanmar’s “deep-seated” relationship will not disappear overnight, however, said Professor Chen Qi, a foreign relations expert at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

“If Myanmar is gaining international support, then China will need greater diplomatic skill to maintain its relationship.”

It is not just in the realm of diplomacy that the United States is vying for China’s crown, analysts say. The end of Beijing’s diplomatic monopoly has also ruffled the feathers of Chinese traders who made themselves at home there.

“They didn’t face any competition in Myanmar for more than two decades under the dictatorship. They could do whatever they wanted at that time,” said Aung Kyaw Zaw, a Myanmar dissident intellectual who lives on the border.

The shift has also affected major Chinese-backed development projects.

In September 2011, President Thein Sein ordered a halt to work on a controversial hydropower project in the northern state of Kachin that was due to produce electricity for export to the northern neighbour.

The move, hailed by the West as a rare concession by the regime after a public outcry, was seen as a turning point in relations.

For more than 20 years, according to researcher Josh Gordon of Yale University, the Chinese enjoyed excellent relations with Myanmar’s rulers while largely avoiding contact with civil society groups and local communities.

Now they have been forced to reconsider their methods, in a country where anti-Chinese sentiment is virulent.

“Myanmar has a xenophobic political culture and so this exacerbates its reaction to China’s rise and influence in the country,” Gordon said.

But he believed that Chinese business, which has inundated Myanmar’s population of 60 million with consumer goods, would find a new way to prosper.

“Chinese infrastructure and large-scale projects may decrease in relative importance as other players come in,” he said. “But the US is not going to take over the market for cheap plastic chairs in Myanmar any time soon.”

Cities like Mandalay have long welcomed legions of Chinese traders and businessmen.

Nowadays US firms like Pepsi and Coca-Cola are not their only rivals — Japan and its corporations see Myanmar as fertile ground to grow their operations in the face of a weak domestic economy squeezed by a shrinking population.

Coupled with aid pledges and joint economic development projects, “Japan is the quiet but big mover,” said Sean Turnell, an expert at Australia’s Macquarie University.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Myanmar int'l airline to resume direct flights to Cambodia

Myanmar Airways International (MAI) will resume direct flights between Yangon and Cambodia next month after a three-month suspension of services, an official of MAI told Xinhua Friday.

Using Airbus A-320, MAI will operate Yangon-Phnom Penh every Wednesday and Saturday while Yangon-Siem Reap every Monday and Friday.

Yangon-Phnom Penh flight was started in November, 2011 while Yangon-Siem Reap in March, 2011.

The direct air link between Myanmar and Cambodia was introduced after the 4th Ayeyawady Chaophraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) summit and 5th CLMV Summit took place in November 2010 which was aimed at developing tourism industry in the subregion.

Meanwhile, more airlines, which are prepared to fly Myanmar as a follow-up, include Hong Kong-based Dragon Air and Trans Asia Airways.

Of them, the Dragon Air will start its direct flight between Hong Kong and Yangon on Jan. 9, 2013 for four flights a week, using Airbus A321 jets, it was disclosed.

MAI will also launch direct flight between Yangon and Hong Kong before the end of this year.

Source: Xinhua

Myanmar invites investment in power projects

Myanmar government has invited both local and foreign businessmen to invest in 22 power projects.

The call came after awarding of 67 power projects to local and foreign companies, according to the ministry of electric power.

The government will implement 89 electricity projects as part of its plan to develop the country’s power sector, the ministry said in a statement.

Of them, 58 projects have already been awarded to local firms and nine to foreign companies, it said.

Sixty-four out of 89 power projects will both generate and distribute power. Four projects will be dedicated to power generation while 21 for distribution.

Source: 11 Media Group

Bean prices drop in Myanmar

The price of beans fell as demand from India dropped after the Deepavali festival, wholesale dealers in Yangon said.

“Green gram prices fell 10,000 kyats (nearly US$12) per metric ton within this week. Last month, a ton of green gram or mung bean (export quality) cost nearly $800; now it’s around $700 per ton,” said a wholesale dealer who requested anonymity. The market is subject to day by day fluctuation, he added.

Prices fell after the celebration of the largest Hindu gathering, when demand for beans is high. Beans are used for sweets such as pancakes and lentil cakes during the yearly Festival of Lights.

The Ministry of Commerce said as of November 9, Myanmar exported around 0.4 million metric tonnes of green grams to various countries yielding $235 million. Exports were higher in 2011, with 0.45 million metric tonnes worth $378 million.

Source: Eleven Media Group

Myanmar parliament abrogates three laws, enact foreign investment law

The 5th session of Myanmar's parliament, which ended in Nay Pyi Taw on Thursday, has mainly abrogated three laws and enacted a new foreign investment law, official media reported Friday.

The three revoked laws are 1964 Myanmar Five Star Shipping Corporation Law, Land Confiscation Act related to mines and Public Services Protection Act.

The parliament passed measures for settlement of debt from Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank (WB) and Paris Club member countries.

The parliament approved the government's proposed signing of nuclear non-proliferation treaty with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and supplementary agreements and proposed establishment of diplomatic relations with Iceland.

The parliament is also assumed to pass the bill amending the constitutional tribunal of the union law and 2012-13 union supplementary budget bill awaiting the president's approval as well as the report of the Joint Public Accounts Committee regarding the report of Office of the Auditor-General of the Union on inspection of budget and expenditure of government departments in 2011-12.

The parliament's 5th session involving two houses began on Oct. 18.

During its last 4th session which lasted from July to September, the parliament passed some laws including Foreign Exchange Management Law and Social Security Law.

That session approved the nomination of U Nyan Tun as new vice president, government's appointment of 11 new persons to take up ministerial posts and one new auditor-general.

Moreover, opposition leader and parliamentarian Aung San Suu Kyi was named chairperson of a 15-member Committee for Rule of Law and Tranquility of the Lower House on Aug. 7.

Over the last session, the former nine-member Myanmar Constitutional Tribunal, led by U Thein Soe, resigned after the parliament passed an impeachment with a majority vote against the constitutional tribunal for breaching the provisions of the constitution and the failure to discharge the vested duties under law.

Source: Xinhua

Nov 22, 2012

Myanmar invites investment in power projects

Myanmar government has invited both local and foreign businessmen to invest in 22 power projects.

The call came after awarding of 67 power projects to local and foreign companies, according to the ministry of electric power.

The government will implement 89 electricity projects as part of its plan to develop the country’s power sector, the ministry said in a statement.

Of them, 58 projects have already been awarded to local firms and nine to foreign companies, it said.

Sixty-four out of 89 power projects will both generate and distribute power. Four projects will be dedicated to power generation while 21 for distribution.

Source: 11 Weekly Media

Nov 21, 2012

Thanlyin oil refinery to be privatised

Thanlyin oil refinery will be the first to be handed over to foreign businessmen, amid the government’s planning to privatise state-owned refineries, petroleum plants, methanol plants and chemical fertilisers plants under the Ministry of Energy, according to sources from the energy planning department.

Thanlyin No.1 oil refinery will be renovated to produce standard oil products with crude oil from overseas. Ministry of Energy will arrange the transfer procedure on December 3 at Nay Pyi Taw.

While before the transfer of the whole factory, the ministry has planned to transfer the machine oil and lubricant oil combined plant under the Thanlyin No.1 refinery to local businessmen, according to sources from Myanmar Petro-Chemical Enterprise.

Currently Myanmar has three refineries, the Thanlyin oil refinery in Yangon region, Chauk oil refinery and Mann Thanpayarkan oil refinery in Magway region. These factories could produce 51,000 barrels per day at first and now they can yield only one-third of the previous output. That’s why the ministry has decided to transfer the factories to local and overseas businessmen to modernise the factories and to increase their output.

The overseas investors are preferred, since local businesses still lack experiences and certain expertise to run the oil refineries in modern ways, said an official from the energy planning department, who asked not to be named.

Source: 11 Media Group

Angling for Myanmar's Business

Marubeni's CEO Says Challenge Is to Turn Firm's 70-Year History Into a Competitive Advantage

Marubeni Corp. Chief Executive Teruo Asada is at the forefront of corporate Japan's charge into Myanmar. The 64-year-old executive is guiding the Tokyo-based conglomerate as it considers at least 10 potential projects in the former dictatorship, ranging from multimillion-dollar orders to fix power plants to a multibillion-dollar deal to modernize an important railroad.

Marubeni Corp. CEO Teruo Asada discusses the company's investments in Myanmar and the opportunities and challenges that accompany them. Video by WSJ's Yoree Koh.

Last month, Mr. Asada visited Myanmar for the first time, in a two-day round of meetings that included President Thein Sein and 500 of the country's business and political elite.

The son of a former president of Japan Airlines Co., Mr. Asada is becoming known for bold moves. Earlier this year, he arranged Marubeni's deal to buy U.S. grain distributor Gavilon Group LLC for $3.6 billion, which would be one of the most expensive purchases in Marubeni's 154-year history.

Mr. Asada talked recently about the company's plans and challenges in Myanmar. Edited excerpts:

WSJ: What are some of the difficulties in getting business in Myanmar?

Mr. Asada: The biggest problem is competition from foreign companies. Marubeni boasts a 70-year history in Myanmar, with a good track record. And Myanmar, in turn, is emotionally attached to us, and that's important to us. But China, South Korea, and of course the U.S. and Europe—they're all increasingly getting into Myanmar. So although Myanmar is a promising market brimming with great prospects, in order to survive there, we need to convey our knowledge and ideas to the country in a way that it ties into new business for us, and that's extremely challenging.

WSJ: When you recently met with President Thein Sein, he told you that Japanese companies move too slowly. What are your thoughts on that?

Mr. Asada: He means compared to other countries. In addition to the normal Chinese investment, South Korea has been quite aggressive in going on the offensive recently. It may seem to the president that we are slow compared to the pace those countries set. But Japan recently said it would virtually forgive ¥300 billion [roughly $3.5 billion] of Myanmar's ¥500 billion in overdue debt, and with that comes certain steps that need to be taken. It's not like "anything goes."

WSJ: What about Marubeni's speed?

Mr. Asada: Marubeni's sense of speed is overwhelmingly fast. We've been fast to advance and open an office in the capital of Naypyitaw. We have seven employees from Japan posted there now, which I believe is more than other trading houses. I've never considered us to be slow. We shouldn't be doing something just because other countries do it. We have no intention of saying, "I'm sorry." Other countries may be enthusiastically sending out love calls of, "Myanmar, Myanmar!" But rather than make hasty moves that lead to big mistakes later it's better to gather information and use Japan's know-how and technological advantages wisely.

WSJ: Japanese companies have been held back by waiting for Japan to restart financial aid to Myanmar. Would Marubeni consider using its own money to fund projects?

Mr. Asada: Yes. Although that doesn't mean we plan to go in without any [assurances it will work]. For example, we could consider power plants, an area where we have a track record [in other countries]. We know what sort of structure would work to finance a project on our own. Myanmar doesn't have solid laws for this kind of thing, but since we have a wealth of knowledge, we should propose [financing plans] to them. If we depend on yen loans or grants, some projects may not be able to move forward.

WSJ: What does Marubeni want to accomplish in Myanmar in the next two years? What would be realistically possible?

Mr. Asada: First, we want to do infrastructure in the big sense: projects like building a new 500- or 600-megawatt power plant. We want to build gas-fired power plants. There may be cases where we'd like to get deeply involved in the plant management. Marubeni was subcontracted to construct a hydroelectric power plant in 1960 called Baluchaung. We'd work on improvements for Baluchaung, or improvements and rehabilitation for other thermal power plants near Yangon—things that are smaller scale than the construction of a new power plant—by proposing various financial packages such as yen loans or export credit or our own financing. Another big thing in infrastructure is railways.

WSJ: What can you accomplish for the proposed industrial hub in Thilawa by 2015?

Mr. Asada: I don't know, to be honest. The results of the feasibility study will come out next year. It seems to have been delayed by three months. I am not sure if we can complete [the development] by 2015.

WSJ: Does the Myanmar side understand that properly?

Mr. Asada: No, I don't think so. In terms of communication and other matters, there are some things like the political system or bureaucracy that haven't fully developed yet. So I think there are situations in which we're not communicating fully.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Nov 20, 2012

Yoma to Buy 80% Stake in Myanmar Land Parcel

Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd. said Monday it will acquire an 80% stake in a plot of land in Myanmar's largest city from its affiliate, giving it access to land in the developing country's tightly regulated real estate sector.

The deal comes as U.S. President Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Myanmar when he arrived Monday as part of a wider Asian tour, and could signal the beginning of a property boom in a country where there has been little economic development.

Yoma will pay US$81.3 million to Serge Pun & Associates (Myanmar) Ltd. for an 80% stake in its unit Meeyahta International Hotel Ltd., which is seeking approval from Myanmar's government to develop a 10-acre site in downtown Yangon, the Singapore-listed company said in a statement to the Singapore stock exchange.

Myanmar national Serge Pun has a 50.01% stake in Yoma, which is the Singapore-based affiliate of unlisted Serge Pun & Associates that was founded by Mr. Pun in Hong Kong in 1983. In 1991, he formed Serge Pun & Associates (Myanmar) Ltd., or SPA Myanmar, with a few partners.

Yoma, which has businesses ranging from real estate to plantation development, will jointly develop a mixed-use residential and commercial property development at the site with SPA Myanmar. The development will have a combined gross floor area of 2 million square feet and cost between US$330 million and US$350 million to build.

Yoma Chief Executive Andrew Rickards said Meeyahta is seeking to extend the lease of the land to 70 years, and the deal hinges on government approval for the lease extension and the project.

The two companies are "open minded" about bringing in more partners, he said.

"International partners may be interested in parts of the project," Mr. Rickards told the Wall Street Journal in a telephone interview, but didn't specify whether the company was in talks with potential investors.

The development, which is one of the biggest in Myanmar's real estate sector in recent years and will house hotels of an international standard, could provide relief to foreign visitors who often complain about the lack of good quality hotel rooms in Myanmar.

Yangon has about 8,000 hotel rooms, of which between 1,500 and 2,500 meet international standards, according to a report from Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels issued Monday.

"The provision of first-class hotel rooms, offices, apartments and retail is badly needed...to cope with the dramatic increase in interest in the country. The availability of land in central Yangon is extremely limited," said Mr. Rickards.

Myanmar was ruled by a military junta for almost fifty years, until a nominally civilian government took power last year following a broad set of political and financial reforms in the last two years, which convinced U.S. and European nations to drop most economic sanctions against the country.

The site, which houses an old hotel and a former railway headquarters built in 1877, is situated between Traders Hotel, which is owned by Shangri-La Asia Ltd. (0069.HK), the Sakura Tower, which is one of the few skyscrapers in the city, and Bogyoke Aung San Market, a popular tourist destination.

Under the plan, the Victorian-era railway headquarters will be restored and converted into a heritage five-star hotel. A luxury condominium, a four-star hotel, a serviced apartment complex and two office towers will also be built on the site, Yoma said in the statement.

It didn't specify when construction would begin or provide other details, but Mr. Rickards said the two companies are conducting preparatory work and construction will begin after it receives approval from the government.

To fund its investment, Yoma plans to sell shares in a one-for-four rights issue in the first quarter of next year. It will seek shareholders' approval for the deal before selling up to 241 million new shares that represent roughly 25% of the company's paid up equity, and said the rights issue has the backing of major shareholder Mr. Pun.

Yoma's shares, which were halted from trading in Singapore Monday, closed 0.9% higher at S$0.560 on Friday, while the broader market was flat.

Source: Dow Jones Newswires

Japan to provide Myanmar 602 mln USD new loan

Japan has offered to provide Myanmar a new loan of 50 billion yens (about 602 million U.S. dollars) for the development of the country's nationalities in border areas and construction of Thilawa Port and deep seaports, official media reported Tuesday.

The offer was made by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to Myanmar President U Thein Sein in Phnom Penh on the sideline of the 21st Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ( ASEAN).

The loan will also be used in poverty alleviation, communications, Myanmar-host 2013 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and 2014 Myanmar's ASEAN chairmanship, said the New Light of Myanmar.

Moreover, Japan would help train Myanmar officials in Japan, it said.

Noda reaffirmed Japan's support for Myanmar's reform process taken under the leadership of U Thein Sein, it added.

Japan, Myanmar's largest creditor, announced in October that it will clear Myanmar's overdue debt of 500 billion yens (about 6 billion U.S. dollars) next January and it will resume tens of billions of yens in concessional loan to Myanmar which is expected by early next year.

Japan had agreed to write off more than half of the 500 billion yens' debt already owed to it by Myanmar.

Meanwhile, three Japanese firms -- Mitsubishi, Marubeni and Sumitomo have agreed with Myanmar to develop the initial phase of 2,400-hectare Thilawa special economic zone (SEZ) in southern Yangon's Thilawa Port, which will feature factories, workshops and one natural-gas-fired power plant.

The three Japanese firms will obtain 49 percent's share to run the Thilawa SEZ, while Myanmar entrepreneurs in the form of public company, will take 56 percent.

According to figures, Japan injected a total of 221.25 million U.S. dollars as of August 2012 since 1988, standing the 12th in Myanmar's foreign investors line-up.

In the fiscal year 2011-12 which ended in March, trade between Myanmar and Japan nearly doubled, reaching 822.5 million dollars compared with 2010-11's 493.8 million dollars.

Source: Xinhua

Nov 19, 2012

Myanmar focuses on investment on sidelines of ASEAN Summit

Thailand solidified agreements to establish a multi-billion dollar special economic zone with Myanmar here on Monday as the once sideliner state looks to jump- start regional investment.

A statement released on the sidelines of the 21st Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit stated that Thailand and Myanmar had agreed to move ahead with the Development of Dawei Special Economic Zone.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Myanmar President Thein Sein also signed a joint statement on the project during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit.

The project is designed to comprise of a world-class deep sea port, industrial estate complex and fully-supported infrastructure as well as a complete transport link to Thailand.

"The Dawei deep seaport together with the industrial estate and related facilities are to be implemented as another logistic and trading hub of the region in response to increasing trade within the East Asian region," the statement noted.

The planned deep sea port and industrial zone will serve as a new commercial gateway for Thailand, China and other ASEAN nations while providing an alternate sea route to India, Middle East, Europe and Africa that will reduce transportation time linking the Gulf of Thailand with the Andaman Sea and beyond.

It was earlier reported that Italian-Thai Development, Thailand 's largest contractor by market value, has been granted a concession to develop the project.

Cost of the project is estimated at 50 billion U.S. dollars with 8.5 billion U.S. dollars being needed for just the first phase of construction, resulting in the project running into funding snags.

In addition, Myanmar is also expected to hold talks with Japan and India on potential investment.

Meanwhile, the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia is mapping out a multi-year economic plan for Myanmar that is expected to jump-start investment.

Over the weekend, the U.S. also rolled back decades of sanctions ahead of a historic visit by President Barack Obama.

Source: Xinhua

Nov 18, 2012

Bagan Capital Continues Expansion with New Mandalay Office

Bagan Capital today announces the opening of its new office in Mandalay - Myanmar's northern commercial centre. The new office represents Bagan Capital's third in the country. Mandalay, a former capital of Myanmar, is a major centre, particularly for agriculture and resources businesses. It is also a significant tourist destination.

"No one can ignore the importance of Mandalay to commercial activities in Myanmar.", notes Jeremy Kloiser-Jones, the founder and CEO of Bagan Capital. "And the role of Mandalay and surrounds will continue to expand given the Myanmar government's infrastructure initiatives", he adds. Major road construction projects, improving access to both India and China, and a modernisation of the airport have been announced. Mandalay airport is the closest international airport to the ancient capital of Bagan, a candidate for UNESCO Heritage listing.

Bagan Capital sees a presence in Mandalay as important to expanding its capacity to uncover suitable investment projects for its managed funds, as well as its advisory clients. The new office is in the Mandalay Swan Hotel.

Bagan Capital is the first investment and advisory firm focused solely on Myanmar. Headquartered in Hong Kong, the firm operates from offices in Yangon, Nay Pyi Taw and Mandalay. Bagan Capital advises both domestic and foreign clients, and is in the process of raising its private equity Myanmar Transition Fund.

Peanut oil price down post harvest, say traders

The price of peanut oil has been falling fast since the last week of October, industry experts said last week.

They said the groundnut (peanut) harvest took place in October, which coincided with a significant fall-off in demand from Chinese buyers who bought cheaper, home-grown supplies.

The result is a market flooded with supply.

“Chinese traders pay about 10.5 yuan a kilogram [equivalent to K2200 a viss – 1.6kg or 3.6 pounds],” said U Naing Win, an exporter based at the Muse border trading zone in Shan State.

“If the price of groundnut in Myanmar is higher than K2000 a viss, Chinese traders will not buy and will rely on domestic crops instead,” he said.

Customers are turning from popular peanut oil because the price of Malaysian palm oil is much lower and the product is freely available, say oil traders in Yangon.

“In August and September, peanut oil prices increased to a peak of K5000 a viss, while raw groundnut was selling wholesale for about K2400 a viss,” said U Sein Than Win, the owner of Wa Kyay Hmwe edible oil trading in Theingyi Market in Yangon.

“After the rainy season groundnut harvest, the price of oil fell to K4000, while raw groundnut was selling for K1800 a viss,” he said.

“I expect the price of oil to fall over the next few months. It should be about K3400 a viss in retail markets in order to increase customer demand. Otherwise, they’ll go for imported oil.”

“Many companies are importing palm oil from Malaysia and distributing throughout the country. Actually, sesame oil is more healthy, but Myanmar people prefer peanut oil,” said U Sein Than Win.

U Aung Linn, the owner of Aung Seik Hti peanut oil mill in Myingyan township, Magway Region, said the price of raw groundnut and the oil that is milled from it are linked.

If the peanut oil price falls, the price of groundnuts will also fall, and groundnut farmers will not get a good price for their crop – and will likely sow less the following season.

But edible oil dealers said farmers could make a profit even if the groundnut price falls to K1400-K1500 a viss.

“I believe the price of peanut oil will not rise because the rainy season crop has already been harvested and the winter crop will be harvested in December. On the other hand, Chinese demand is also falling,” U Aung Linn said.

“The price of peanut oil here is K3800 a viss, but with transportation charges and with small profits added, the price increases to K4000 in Yangon,” he added.

Peanut oil is selling for K4000 a viss in Yangon’s retail market, while palm oil is K1600 and sesame oil is K3200, a cooking oil trader said on November 15.

Source: Myanmar Times

Nov 17, 2012

Myanmar to launch self-service gas stations

Five petrol stations in Myanmar are planning to offer by December a "self-service system" with the use of Myanmar Payment Union (MPU) cards, InfoSyS Myanmar Technologies said.

Also known as the “e-filling station”, the new system has complete control of a petrol station through a computer system that will allow customers to fill in tanks on their own by using the card. The card is a kind of a debit card and a credit card designed for a swift domestic payment system.

Zaw Min Aye of InfoSys said the new system, which is a 24-hour service, will solve customers’ complaints of inaccurate petrol measurements at the filling stations.

To use the system, a petrol station will have to invest approximately US$7,000 for hardware equipment and software.

He said the service was co-developed by Tatsuno Engineering & Service in Thailand.

There are about 400 privately owned filling stations in Myanmar, and 500 stations are waiting for their license to be approved. The government has allowed privately owned petrol stations to operate since June 2010.

Source: 11 Media Group

US waives Myanmar import ban before Obama's trip

The United States on Friday suspended its ban on imports from Myanmar before President Barack Obama's landmark visit to the country to reward its democratic reforms.

The State Department said it was another step in the normalization of bilateral economic relations with the former pariah state. Washington has already eased investment sanctions.

Obama is scheduled to visit the country also known as Burma on Monday, the first U.S. president to do so.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, an influential voice on Myanmar policy, commended Obama for making the trip. His comment Friday underscored how Myanmar is an area of bipartisan agreement transcending Washington's deep political divisions.

The waiving of the import ban, in place since 2003, is "intended to support the Burmese government's ongoing reform efforts and to encourage further change, as well as to offer new opportunities for Burmese and American businesses," a State Department statement said.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in September that the U.S would be easing the restriction to reward the reformist government of President Thein Sein, who has shifted the country from five decades of ruinous military rule. He has released hundreds of political prisoners, including democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was elected to parliament in April.

The government and Suu Kyi have both expressed a desire for the import ban to be eased to help integrate Myanmar into the global economy, the statement said.

A ban on imports of gems – jadeite, rubies and jewelry containing them – will remain in place. The Treasury Department also added seven entities that U.S. companies are barred from doing business with because of links to violence, oppression and corrupt practices.

The newly sanctioned entities include front companies owned or controlled by Steven Law and Tay Za, both described as cronies of the former ruling junta. The State Department has said that Law and his father, Lo Hsing Han, have profited from the heroin trade. Tay Za is reportedly an associate of former military leader Than Shwe.

Myanmar activist groups have criticized the U.S. as being too hasty in rewarding Thein Sein's government. Despite Friday's waiver, the sanctions authority remains in place.

The U.S. is closely monitoring Myanmar's progress on reform, the State Department said. It cited concern about corruption, remaining political prisoners, Myanmar's continued military ties to North Korea and ethnic conflict.

"The ball is now clearly in the Burmese regime's court, and we call on them to respond with concrete action, by expeditiously releasing all remaining political prisoners, putting a firm end to ethnic violence and implementing constitutional reform," said Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y.

Source: Huffington Post

Nov 16, 2012

Gold hunters rush to southern Myanmar river stream

Hundreds of people thronged the Bawlu creek, a tributary of Taninthayi River in southwestern part of the country, in search of gold.

According to the locals, around 10,000 people have gathered along the stream which is situated near Kyauklongyi village, a 12-hour boat ride from Taninthayi Township in Taninthayi Region, and flows to the Myanmar-Thai border.

Over 40 groups, each comprising around 20 young and middle-aged people, are currently working there in separate sections, it has been learnt.

“We have been working here for four months. We have found a lot of gold nuggets,” a local gold hunter said.

A woman from Kachin State has found a gold block weighing 1.6 kilogrammes, he said, adding: “Others have also found large pieces of gold.”

Most of the nuggets found along the creek are about the size sunflower seeds.

In Myanmar, 0.016 kg of gold costs around 700,000 kyats (US$833).

Gold hunters from outside have to pay the land owners about 1 million kyats to pan for gold, another local resident said.

“The locals, who earlier panned the area for gold in a manageable scale in the past, now do not have the chance to come to the creek,” he added.

Source: Eleven Media Group

Myanmar Private Sector Investment Summit (MPSIS) 28 – 30 January 2013 Yangon, Myanmar


Press Contact:
Selina Wong
selina@advantiquegroup.com
+65 6243 3778


Myanmar Private Sector Investment Summit (MPSIS)
28 – 30 January 2013
Yangon, Myanmar


Title
UMFCCI hosting Myanmar investment conference in Yangon with Advantique Group


Summary

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), the most influential business federation in Myanmar is hosting a Myanmar investment conference in Yangon with Advantique Group. The Myanmar Private Sector Investment Summit on 28-30 January 2013 provides essential information and business matching for companies interested to invest in Myanmar.



Detailed Background


Companies looking for business opportunities in Myanmar and finding partners for their investment in Myanmar can look forward to meeting Myanmar companies who are members ofRepublic of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry,or more widely known asUMFCCI(previously Burma Chamber of Commerce) at the Myanmar Private Sector Investment Summit (MPSIS).

UMFCCI is the most influential business federation in Myanmar. They represent: 10,854 Myanmar companies, 1,656 enterprises, 770 foreign companies, 185 co-operatives & 2,898 individual business owners in Myanmar.

Scheduled on 28-30 January 2013 at the Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon, MPSIS is organized by Singapore based conference production specialist, the Advantique Group Pte. Ltd. with UMFCCIas the Official Local Host of MPSIS.Myanmar Private Sector Investment Summit (MPSIS)provides essential information about doing business and investing in Myanmar.

UMFCCI was instrumental in pushing for removal of protectionist clauses in the new foreign investment law in Myanmar passed recently on 2 November 2012. They are keen to work with foreign investors to build up the economy in Myanmar.
Said UMFCCI’s joint secretary general, Mr Aye Lwin: “Foreign investors can help to increase the technology know-how and knowledge of SMEs when they invest in Myanmar. Currently some Myanmar companies are not as developed as neighbouring countries and face a myriad of challenges including outdated technology.”

He further commented: “in order to progress, we will need to change our mind set and communicate more openly with foreign investors. Myanmar businesses need to cooperate together and be prepared to work with foreign investors. This is necessary if we want to progress and be as advanced as our ASEAN neighbours.”

Companies wanting to scrutinise the details of the new myanmar investment law can now obtain a copy of the unofficial English translation from Advantique Group at http://www.advantiquegroup.com/translated-myanmar-fdi-law.html. The release of the official English translation by the government is expected in a few months.

Some key highlights of the newly enacted Myanmar foreign investment law:
• As per the old law, foreigners can still own 100 percent of businesses without the need for a local partner. But restrictions apply in some areas.
• The ratio of ownership between joint venture partners can be determined between the partners.
• Myanmar Investment Commission has the discretionary power to allow foreign investors into restricted sectors (such as fisheries and agriculture).
• Foreign investors can lease land from the government or from authorized private owners for up to 50 years, depending on the type and size of the investment, and the deal can be extended twice, for 10 years each time.
• Foreign firms may be entitled to a tax holiday for the first five years of operation and other forms of tax relief may be available depending on the investment, if deemed in the national interest.

Mr Aung Naing Oo, the Director General of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) will be presenting the details of the latest Myanmar investment law in at the Myanmar Private Sector Investment Summit (MPSIS). DICA is a division under the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development and is the usually the first stop for foreign investors who are keen to knock on Myanmar’s doors as DICA’s main responsibility is to scrutinize and appraise projects that are proposed for investment in Myanmar.

The program agenda of Myanmar Private Sector Investment Summit (MPSIS)is specially designed to help participants make informed decisions about doing business in Myanmar through an in-depth understanding of the important laws, policies and entry strategies. High-level speakers consisting of government officials, established private companies in Myanmar as well as professionals well versed with investing in Myanmar will cover the following issues:

• Clarifications on the Latest Foreign Investment Law in Myanmar
• Myanmar’s Tax Structure and International Tax Aspects
• Banking, Foreign Exchange, Repatriating Profits
• Site Selection, Land Laws and Leasing
• Structuring JV and Managing Disputes
• Trading: How Can Foreign Companies Trade In Myanmar Despite The Restriction?
• Opportunities in Myanmar: Manufacturing, Construction, Real Estate, Tourism, Agriculture Production & Processing (cash crops), Plantation (rubber & oil palm), Timber.

Early bird discounted rate of USD1,290 per person is valid for from now until30 November 2012; the standard rate is USD1,590 per person. There is a group discount of 5% for 3 or more persons from the same company.

Included in the registration fee, besides the standard entry to conference, e-documentation and networking cocktail, are value-added features to help you “think local and act local” such as onsite One-to-One Business Consult Clinics, Half-day Tour of Yangon and Myanmar Immersion Program (sharing about Myanmar’s customs and etiquettes).

There is also a personalized Business Matching Session at the end of the conference program on 29 January. Registered participants will be paired up with preferred companies for private discussions. It is a value-added service provided at an additional USD100 per delegate only.
To register for MPSIS or for more details, please visit http://www.advantiquegroup.com/mpsis or contact Ms. Selina Wong at selina(at)advantiquegroup.com,+65 6243 3778.


About Advantique Group Pte Ltd

Advantique Group Pte Ltd produces high-level international conferences that help businesses generate new ideas, opportunities and connections. We are a spin off from Star Event Management International, a highly creative and dynamic event management company set-up since 2001. Our management team consists of accomplished conference executives with 15 years of experience in producing, marketing and managing premium conferences. At Advantique Group, we go the extra mile to create enriching platforms for you to acquire market insights, meet new contacts and build lasting relationships.Please visit us at www.advantiquegroup.com

About Republic of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI)

UMFCCI is the most influential business federation in Myanmar. They represent: 10,854 Burmese Companies, 1,656 Enterprises, 770 Foreign Companies, 185 Co-operatives & 2,898 Individuals in Myanmar. UMFCCI was founded in 1919 as the Burmese Chamber of Commerce and was later upgraded to a federation in 1999 in line with the adoption of the market-oriented economic policy. It is an non-governmental organisation, which stands at a national level, representing and safeguarding the interests of private business sector. UMFCCI acts as a bridge between the State and the private sector. UMFCCI is also dedicated to fulfilling the needs of private sector by providing various services such as human resource development training, trade information, business matching, consultancy and other services as required by the private sector. For more details, refer to www.umfcci.netorwww.umfcci.com.mm


Nov 15, 2012

MasterCard introduced as 1st int'l electronic payment card in Myanmar

MasterCard was introduced as the first international electronic payment card in Myanmar operational with the first automatic tellers machine (ATM) installed in the country.

The introduction of the card is aimed at developing and supporting the existing infrastructure and further electronic payments acceptance to accommodate the growth of the business and tourism sectors in Myanmar, an official of the Cooperative Bank ( CB) authorized to offer service with MasterCard told Xinhua..

MasterCard Worldwide had issued a license to the CB in September this year,

Tourist and business travelers with MasterCard, Maestro or Cirrus card will now be able to withdraw money in local currency ( Kyat) at 36 CB Bank's ATMs across the country, including that in Yangon International Airport.

Using MasterCard at points-of-sale is expected to be available at hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops etc., within four months while Myanmar citizens traveling overseas can also expect to be able to use MasterCard within a year from now, Rona Rakhit, head of Business Development and Strategic Initatives Group of CB Bank told Xinhua.

The move is timely made in preparation for the upcoming Myanmar- hosted 27th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in late 2013.

Meanwhile, Visa, one of the international credit cards, has signed deals with three Myanmar private banks -- Kanbawza Bank, Cooperative Bank and Myanmar Oriental Bank in Yangon for launching its card with the three banks' automatic tellers machine (ATM) and points-of-sale.

At present, 17 private banks have participated in the MPU program and all private banks would join in soon.

There is a total of 19 private banks and four state-owned banks in Myanmar.

The move-in of the international bank cards came after the United States eased some financial sanctions on the country, before which foreign visitors were unable to use international credit cards on account of such sanctions on money transactions since 2003.

CB Bank, a private bank in Myanmar, is one of the most established commercial banks in Myanmar, with the largest ATM network in the country.

CB bank has 29 local branches in the country. CB bank launched the first ATM in Myanmar in November 2011.

Source: Xinhua

Nov 14, 2012

Rice federation to spend K14.5b on buffer stock

Myanmar Rice Federation is planning to spend K14.5 billion (about US$17.2 million) to buy buffer stock from the November crop, starting from November 20.

The federation will accept only 25 percent broken rice, said Dr Soe Tun, central executive member of MRF on November 8.

“We will ask farmers to make bids because we could not collect the buffer stock for last year. We have no milling machines. That’s why there were problems with the quality and quantity of rice after milling. For this year’s crop, we will accept only 25pc broken rice and will only consider applicants who make bids,” he said.

MRF will invite bids in private sector and state-owned media this month, he said.

“The funding for the buffer stock comprises K10 billion from the government, K1 billion from cooperative departments, and K3.5 billion from MRF,” he added.

He said restrictions would apply, and that each bidder might be allowed to sell a maximum of 1000 tonnes, but the amount had not yet been decided.

“We will buy directly from the farmers because some people can’t send stock to our warehouses because of transportation difficulties. Some people are still trying to send their deliveries from the last crop, so we will buy only in Yangon this year,” he said.

In the recent monsoon season, the major rice production areas of Yangon, Bago and Ayeyarwady regions were flooded for several days. As a result, some fields were destroyed and in others replanting was delayed.

“There was some impact on rice production because of abnormal weather. But the amount of rice will not decrease significantly, and the price will not increase,” said Dr Soe Tun.

Total rice production annually amounts to more than 12 million tonnes. More than 10 million tonnes are used domestically, and less than a million tonnes are exported.

MRF plans to export about 50,000 tonnes (25pc broken rice) to Africa in late November, of which more than 10,000 tonnes is left over from last year’s buffer stock.

The remaining 40,000 tonnes is from Myanmar Agricultural Public Corporation.

Source: Myanmar Times

US plans to buy Myanmar rice for Iraq

The United States is planning to buy rice from Myanmar to be sent to Iraq, Chit Khaing, president of Myanmar Paddy, Producers Association said last week.

Myanmar has exported about 70,000 tonnes so far in this fiscal year and expects to export 1.5 million tonnes more by end of the year, he said.

Chit Khaing added that Japanese firms, whose market includes Africa, also imported rice from the country.

Source: 11 Media Group

Nov 13, 2012

Index Creative Village to form two more JVs in Myanmar

Leading event organiser Index Creative Village plans to set up two more joint-venture companies next year to support its business in Myanmar after the establishment of Myanmar Index Creative Village.

MICV is a 50:50 joint venture formed this year with Yangon-based media and entertainment giant Forever Group.

"Myanmar will become a source market for the company in the near future," co-chief executive officer Kriangkrai Kanjanapokin said |yesterday.

"Under the country's political stability, its gross domestic product is estimated to grow by 7-8 per cent annually as foreign investors keep seeking new business opportunities there."

After a series of bold economic and political reforms, there will be a number of key international and regional events held in Myanmar through 2015.

Next year, Nay Pyi Taw will host the 27th Southeast Asian Games, while the country will also hold the 22nd World Economic Forum on East Asia in May.

In 2014, Myanmar will take the Asean chair and be responsible for hosting at least 700 related meetings and events.

Myanmar has also announced 2015 as its Tourism Year.

In light of all these planned activities, Index Creative Village plans to invest at least Bt100 million in event-related equipment and technology in the neighbouring country to increase its capacity to meet demand from government, multinational companies and Thailand-based businesses operating in Myanmar.

Kriangkrai said his company's subsidiaries - equipment supplier Event Solutions and market and consumer research agency Environsell - had sealed separate deals with Forever Group's |subsidiaries to set up JVs in Myanmar.

SUPPORT

Meanwhile, Index Creative Village's strategic partner, Xcon - Thailand's leading exhibition solutions provider - plans to form another JV with subsidiaries of the Myanmar media and entertainment group. These three new companies will support MICV and secure its business sustainability, particularly after the Asean Economic Community comes into force |in 2015, he said.

The company has also set up a dedicated team to take care of the Asean market for business development, marketing and sales, led by Asean regional director Narindej Thaveesangpanich.

Narindej said the events industry in Myanmar, estimated to be worth Bt300 million, was expected to enjoy growth of 15-20 per cent year on year.

This year, the company has so far generated Bt50 million in revenue from Myanmar and Vietnam, below the target of Bt100 million, Narindej said, adding that next year it hoped to achieve Bt150 million in those countries via its TVM Index Advertising joint venture.

Index Creative Village hopes to enjoy a 38-per-cent surge to Bt2.8 billion in overall 2012 income, above its original target of Bt2.25 billion.

Source: The Nation

SCB enters Myanmar

Siam Commercial Bank will open its first representative office in Myanmar's capital late this month.

The move is part of its plan to broaden its business in the region ahead of the upcoming Asean Economic Community (AEC).

SCB is focusing on expanding its services in Asia, starting with Asean and then East Asia.

The Myanmar branch is a major step for the bank, especially now that Myanmar's foreign investment law has been revised to support more foreign investment, said Manop Sangiambut, executive vice-president for international banking business.

The bank plans to set up a joint-venture bank or upgrade a branch to fully serve customers in accordance with liberalisation plans being introduced by Myanmar's government.

SCB's Yangon office will serve Myanmar customers looking to invest, trade and do business abroad.

SCB has cooperated with eight local banks in Myanmar to provide cross-border fund transfers, import-export services, currency exchange and business matching.

Source: Bangkok Post

Nov 12, 2012

Foreign Investors eye wood production sector

Asian countries are preparing to enter Myanmar’s teak and hardwood business, a source from the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Forestry said.

Delegations from China, Japan, India, South Korea and Thai have met officials from the ministry early this year.

Inspections have been conducted on teak and hardwood products manufacturing factories, paper mills and teak plantations.

Prospective companies include MKTI and HANA from South Korea; Daio Paper, Oji Paper, Mitsui, Kansai and JOPP from Japan; JK Paper and PL Global IMPEX from India; and Thai-based Japanese company Double A.

Myanmar produces about 283,000 cubic metres of teak and 1.98 million cubic metres of hardwood annually. It is also a major exporter of teak, taking up 75 per cent of the global market. It ships teak to China and India, among others.

Myanmar plans to ban timber exports by April 2014 to save its forests.

In 2011-2012, the country exported 371,000 metric tonnes of teak and 1,789,400 metric tonnes of hardwood.

Source: 11 Media Group

Nay Pyi Taw gears up for package tours

Myanmar wants to make its administrative capital, Nay Pyi Taw, a tourist destination, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism said.

The government wants the city included in package tours to the country.

“There are regular flights to and from Nay Pyi Taw. Moreover, Bagan, Mandalay and Inlay can be reached by car from the city. It has a hot spring and trekking routes from which Loikaw and Pinlaung can be accessible by car. Then one can go to Inlay,” said Htay Aung, Union Minister for Hotels and Tourism.

Myanmar’s major tourist attractions are Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Inlay and Ngapali but tourists have shown interest in Nay Pyi Taw, where government offices are located. The city is frequented by diplomats, foreign guests and businessmen.

Nay Pyi Taw has built an international airport and a hotel zone.

Myanmar is due to host the Asean Summit and a series of other Asean meetings in Nay Pyi Taw in 2014.

Source: 11 Media Group

Rakhine and central Myanmar to get 100 million cu/ft natural gas a day

Rakhine and the central Myanmar will get 100 million cubic feet of natural gas a day upon completion of the Myanmar-China oil and gas pipeline, Minister for Energy Than Htay said on November 9 in the Lower House.

The ministry aims to purchase 2 million barrels of crude oil from the Myanmar-China project every year for local consumption, the minister added.

“The aim of constructing the Myanmar-China oil and gas pipeline is for mutual friendship, to create job opportunities and ensure energy security. Once completed, about 100 million cubic feet of natural gas can be supplied every day. For local consumption, 2 million barrels of crude oil can be bought every day. This is one of the most beneficial projects because it can fulfill the energy requirement of the country,” the minister continued.

Despite the fact that China carries crude oil from Africa and Middle East by tankers, guarded by military ships, Chinese military ships are not allowed to pass Myanmar water territory because this point is not included in the deal, the minister said.

The project between state-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise and China’s CNPC South-East Asia Pipeline Co will involve Myanmar being paid US$13.8 million annually for the right of way. The pipeline transit will use 26.1 square kilometres (6449.3 acres) of land. The pipeline will be 30 metres wide and 870 kilometres long, and the agreement will last for 30 years. The transit fee for the pipeline is based on the international transit rate and on one acre rental price rate of the United States, the minister disclosed.

For the calculation of transit fee for the pipeline, one acre costs US$2141.24 and the cost of one acre rental in the US in 2009 was US$2310.26.

Myanmar will get one US dollar transit fee for one tonne. As the project will generate 22 million tonnes of crude oil a year, Myanmar will gain US$22 million a year, for 30 years.

Source: 11 Media Group

Nov 11, 2012

Myanma Shipyards picks Vietnam firm for JV

Myanma Shipyards will enter into a joint venture with Dong A Shipbuliding Industry JSC from Vietnam, said Kyi Soe, director general of the local firm.

Dong A Shipbuliding Industry JSC is the mother company of Myint Mo Oo Company in Myanmar.

Myanma Shipyards, however, needs permission first from the Myanmar Investment Commission. If the commission approves, this will be the first joint venture with a foreign company under the new government.

The Vietnamese firm will invest 49 per cent of the total capital of US$81 million. The venture is expected to start in 2013.

The joint venture is meant to improve the company’s market competitiveness and acquire advanced technology.

Source: Weekly Eleven Media

Yangon airport receives 2,000 tourists every day

Yangon International Airport receives a daily average of nearly 2,000 foreign tourists, according to Htay Aung, the minister of hotels and tourism.

At a meeting with entrepreneurs from the tourism industry on November 4, Htay Aung said tourism growth is getting better.

Foreign tourists enter the country through four airports – Yangon, Mandalay, Nyaung U, and Nay Pyi Taw – in addition to many border checkpoints.

“Tourist arrivals to Yangon have increased from 2010 to 2012. The number of tourist arrivals in October is 20,000, more than in September,” said an official from the Yangon International Airport.

Last year, Yangon International Airport received more than 360,000 foreign tourists while more than 26,000 tourists entered through Mandalay, Bagan, and Nay Pyi Taw gateways.

After suffering three consecutive years of decline, Myanmar’s tourism industry started to recover in 2010 due to political changes in the country. It became the centre of attention after the by-election in last April.

An increasing number of foreign companies have been making study trips to Myanmar this year to make investments, especially in the hotel and tourism sector. Most investors have been waiting for the publication of the long-awaited foreign investment law, which was approved on November 2.

New airlines have also launched routes to Myanmar in time for the peak tourist season and the number of business tourists and international tourists arriving in Myanmar has been equally increasing, according to sources from the tourism industry.

A total of 420,000 tourists arrived in Myanmar from January to early November this year, according to statistics from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.

Last year, the number of tourist arrivals exceeded 800,000, up more than 24,000 or 3 per cent from the same period in 2010, according to the statistics.

The statistics also show that there were 1091 hotels and guesthouses offering 44,294 rooms up to September 2012.

Source: Eleven Media Group

Toyo-Thai getting into Myanmar power business through two JVs

Toyo-Thai Corporation (TTCL) is seeking opportunities in Myanmar's power business through the establishment of two joint ventures in that country.
One of the JVs will have Thai Summit Group as a partner.

The expansion follows a memorandum of understanding signed with Myanmar's Ministry of Electric Power on August 10, which paved the way for greater collaboration for developing a 100-megawatt power plant in Yangon.

The integrated engineering firm said on its website that it "is optimistic about its overseas expansion plans after the company signed the MoU".

"The agreement was made possible through the company's solid experience along with its close ties with the Myanmar community, in which Toyo Thai-Myanmar Corp (TTMC), a subsidiary of TTCL, was established last year," the company said.

"At present, the company is training 30 Myanmar engineers at its Bangkok head office and plans to employ 50 Myanmar engineers for preparation of future operations."

In a filing to the Stock Exchange of Thailand yesterday, TTCL said its board of directors had approved the establishment of Toyo Thai Power Corp in Singapore (TTPSG) as a 60:20:20 joint venture with 8 Coins Capital and Pacific New Power. The joint venture will be capitalised at US$42.5 million (Bt1.32 billion).

Through TTPSG, it will set up a 50:50 joint venture in Myanmar to operate a power plant. The company will be capitalised at $500,000.

Another 40:60 joint venture will be established in Myanmar to invest in the power business. With Thai Summit Group holding 60 per cent, Thai Summit-TTCL Power Co will be capitalised at Bt1 million.

TTCL, the first all-around engineering company in Thailand, was incorporated in 1985 by a joint venture of Italian-Thai Development, one of the biggest contractors in the country, and Toyo Engineering Corp, a leading international engineering company in Japan.

In the third quarter of this year, Toyo-Thai reported net profit of Bt151.4 million, 16.6 per cent higher than the same period last year. In the first nine months, its net profit reached Bt341 million.

Source: The Nation

Nov 9, 2012

Myanmar plans to export up to 1.5 million tonnes of rice

Myanmar is planning to export up to 1.5 million tonnes of rice in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, according to the Myanmar Rice Industry Association (MRIA).

Myanmar exported more than 790,000 tonnes in 2011, eighth among the top-10 rice exporting countries.

The top 10 countries were: Thailand, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Cambodia, Uruguay, Myanmar, Argentina and China.

If Myanmar exports 1.5 million tonnes of rice during this fiscal year, it would overtake Uruguay, Cambodia and Brazil, and reach fifth place.

Myanmar’s rice exports average more than 100,000 tonnes a month.

Myanmar has exported almost 700,000 tonnes, worth US$260,315, from April 1 to October 19 2012, according to the Commerce Ministry.

The MRIA plans to export rice from its reserves. Rice exports are expected to reach 1.5 million tonnes, an official of the Ministry of Commerce said.

Myanmar expects rice export volumes to reach 3 million in 2017. To achieve this, it requires to increase the per-acre yield, general secretary Ye Min Aung of the MRIA said.

A tonne of Myanmar rice costs US$365 in the world rice market. Thai rice is priced at US$566, Vietnamese US$425, Indian US$410 and Pakistani US$380.

Myanmar’s rice is priced lower than the other countries, but the price for export to China is US$430. This is more expensive than Vietnamese rice as Myanmar is reluctant to export rice to China because of its strict rules on quality and import tax.

Source: Eleven Media Group

Myanmar spends $10.9b on construction projects

Myanmar is spending US$10.94 billion for 24 road and bridge projects, the Ministry of Construction said.

The projects are divided into Union road section project, region and state road section project, and bridge project.

They are funded through official development assistance or ODA from the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
Although roads and bridges are being built across the country, there are no such plans in Kachin and Rakhine states yet, the ministry said.

The ongoing projects are in Ayeyawady, Magway and Yangon Regions, and Chin and Mon States.

The construction covers international transport routes and links including Asean and Asian highways.

The ministry will also construct concrete bridges along international and interstate highways.
Myanmar is in the process of asphalting and expanding international highways as it prepares to enter the Asean Free Trade Area in 2015, the ministry said.

Source: 11 Media Group

Nov 8, 2012

New private airline to emerge in Myanmar soon

A new private airline -- Shwe Myanmar Airways will operate its maiden flight in Myanmar in January 2013, aiming at facilitating travelers with cheaper air fares, local media reported Thursday.

With 180-seated A-320 Air Buses, Shwe Myanmar Airways will operate not only domestic but also international flights, the official daily New Light of Myanmar said.

The first aircraft for the airline will arrive here in December 2012 while the second one in February 2013.

In addition to the 64-year-old state-operated domestic Myanma Airways (MA), there are five other private-run domestic airlines in Myanmar, namely Air Mandalay, Yangon Airways, Air Bagan, Asian Wings and Air Kanbawza.

Myanmar's national flag carrier, the Myanmar Airways International (MAI), will also launch direct flight between Yangon and Hong Kong before the end of this year.

Five foreign airlines launched their maiden flights to Yangon one after another in September and October. They are Korean Airlines from South Korea, Qatar Airlines from the Middle East, EVA Airlines from Chinese Taipei and All Nippon Airways from Japan and Singapore Airline from Singapore.

On Wednesday, Germany based Condor Airlines became the first European airline that launched direct flight to Yangon.

Meanwhile, more airlines are prepared to fly Myanmar as a follow-up, including Hong Kong-based Dragon Air and Trans Asia Airways, sources said.

The Dragon Air will start its direct flight between Hong Kong and Yangon on Jan. 9, 2013 on a basis of four flights a week using Airbus A321 jets.

Source: Xinhua

KMA Shipping to build wharf in Yangon

The KMA Shipping Company Ltd will build container wharf for the Thein Phyu Shipyards in Botahtaung Township in Yangon.

The Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) gave KMT permission to construct the wharf under build-operate-transfer (BOT) system on October 18, according to industry sources.

The wharf will be built on 22.62 acres of area.

The KMA will invest 58,539 million kyats (US$ 68.87 million) in the project.

Earlier this year, the MIC gave permission to Royal Hi-Tech Group Company to construct wharf and jetty at Simiekone in Myin Chan district, Mandalay region, and Myanmar Annawar Swanarshin Groups Company Ltd to provide services at Ahlone Shipyards in Yangon region.

Source: 11 Media Group

Norwegian paint firm to set up plant in Myanmar

A Norwegian paint company will set up a plant in Myanmar, according to officials of the firm.

Jotun Paint expects to complete construction of the US$20-million plant in five years, Peder Bohlin, Southeast Asia director of the company, said in Yangon on November 5.

“There are a lot of tech firms in Norway. They are interested to come here to invest. It’s a very interesting place,” he said.

Norway was the first European country to lift economic sanctions against Myanmar.

According to Jotun Paint’s president and chief executive officer, Morten Fon, the company holds 65 per cent of Norway’s paint market.

Source: 11 Media Group

Nov 7, 2012

German Airlines launches direct flight to Yangon

Germany based Condor Airlines launched direct flight to Yangon Wednesday bringing the total number of foreign airlines flying Myanmar to 19.

Condor is the first and only European airline to fly non-stop to Yangon.

Condor will operate the new service with 268-seated Boeing 767- 300, departing Frankfurt every Tuesday and the return flight being set for every Wednesday.

"Myanmar and Germany have had formal air transport relations since a bilateral Air Transport Agreement was concluded in December 1977, the twenty fourth agreement, out of Myanmar's current 46 bilateral Air Services Agreements," said Win Swe Tun, Deputy Director General of Myanmar Department of Civil Aviation at inaugural ceremony of Condor Airlines.

He also said, "We firmly believe that the operation to Yangon by such prestigious airline as Condor Airlines with it worldwide network will contribute significantly towards the development of tourists and business travel to and from Myanmar."

Each year, Condor flies more than six million passengers to about 75 destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa and America.

Condor Airlines had experience operation to Yangon since in November 1996 to April 1997.

There had been five foreign airlines launching their maiden flights to Yangon one after another in September-October, namely Korean Airlines (KAL) from South Korea, Qatar Airlines from the Middle East, EVA Airlines from Chinese Taipei and All Nippon Airways (ANA) from Japan and Singapore Airline (SIA) from Singapore .

Meanwhile, more airlines, which are prepared to fly Myanmar as a follow-up, include Hong Kong-based Dragon Air and Trans Asia Airways, sources said.

Of them, the Dragon Air will start its direct flight between Hong Kong and Yangon on Jan. 9, 2013 for four flights a week, using Airbus A321 jets, it was disclosed.

Meanwhile, Myanmar's national carrier, the Myanmar Airways International (MAI), will also launch direct flight between Yangon and Hong Kong before the end of this year.

Source: Xinhua

PwC opens office in Myanmar

PwC announced today the official opening of its office in Myanmar, bringing the reach of its network in Southeast Asia to 9 countries in the region.

Among the "Big Four", it is the second after KPMG to return to the country.

"PwC's return to Yangon is our vote of confidence in the reforms that we have witnessed in the past year, and our commitment to the people of Myanmar," said PwC Singapore Executive Chairman Designate Yeoh Oon Jin. "Myanmar has great potential for sustained growth due to its unique location between China, India and Southeast Asia, its population of 65 million, a young and educated workforce, and its abundant land and natural resources. Since the opening up of its economy at the beginning of this year, we have seen growing interest from both Asian and Western corporations, and we expect an increasing stream of foreign direct investments in the years to come."

PwC Myanmar will provide assurance, tax, and advisory services to support large local businesses seeking growth and foreign corporations' investments into Myanmar. Its initial focus will however be on market entry, mergers and acquisitions, infrastructure and transformation of local businesses.

PwC Myanmar Managing Director for Assurance and Advisory Services Ong Chao Choon said that the team would be small initially, led by Jasmine Thazin Aung and Jessica Ei Ei San, both of whom are returning Myanmar citizens who have worked in PwC Singapore.

PwC Singapore will provide technical support to PwC Myanmar in the initial years, and we will also tap into the expertise across PwC's global network.

"As the leading professional services network in the world, PwC is committed to developing local talents, delivering consistent quality service to clients and contributing to the local economy and profession. We hope to play a part in Myanmar's reform and growth story, and it is a privilege for PwC to be part of this new chapter," added Ong.

Source: The Nation

Nov 5, 2012

New Foreign Investment Law (unofficial English translation)

This is the unofficial English translation of the new Foreign Investment Law signed by President Thein Sein last Friday.
Foreign Investment Law
2012 Union Parliament Law No XXI


Union Parliament (Union Assembly) has enacted this law.

Chapter I
Title and Definition

1. This law is called the Foreign Investment Law.

2. The following terms mentioned in this law must be interpreted as stated below.

(a) The State means the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

(b) The Commission means the Myanmar Investment Commission formed under this law.

(c) The Union Government means the Union Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

(d) The Citizen includes guest citizen or person recognized as citizen. The term used for this law includes the economic organization established with the citizen.

(e) The Foreigner means the person that is not the citizen. The term used for this law includes the economic organization established with the foreigners.

(f) The Initiator means the person either the citizen or the foreigner who proposes in connection with the foreign investment with the Commission.

(g) The proposal means the documents regarding the proposal submitted by the Initiator to the Commission in acquiring the permission for the investment, the prescribed application form submitted with the draft contract, documentary evidences for the financial status and the documents in connection with the company.

(h) The Permission means the approval and order of the Commission in connection with the investment proposal.

(i) The Foreign Capital Investment means the following outlay made by the foreigner in line with the order for the assets.

(1) Foreign currency

(2) The actual requirement for the functioning of the business such as the machinery, equipment, machinery parts, spare parts and apparatus that are not available in the country.

(3) License, invention property right, technical design, trade logo, copy rights and intellectual property rights, along with the right for evaluation.

(4) Technical knowhow and skills.

(5) The above mentioned points may have already increased the assets in the business or the profit and shares that are likely to re-invest in the business.

(j) The Investor means the person who invests in accordance with the official order or the economic organization.

(k) The Bank means a bank inside the country functioning with the approval and permission of the Union Government.

(l) The Investment means various kinds of property and assets owned by the investor in accordance with this law in the jurisdiction of the country. In this term of reference, the following are also included.

(1) The moveable property, the immoveable property and other rights of ownership that are possible to put up as mortgages or accept other property as collateral security.

(2) Stocks and shares of the company and the documents of debentures stating the guarantee of payment to the holders.

(3) The contract/covenant mentioning the amount on financial matters and the monetary rights or the activities thereof.

(4) Intellectual property right in accordance with the existing laws.

(5) The relevant business rights entrusted in accordance with the covenant or relevant laws in connection with the exploration and extraction of natural resources.

(m) The person permitted to hire land or the person permitted to use land means the person who is permitted to hire land or the person who is permitted to use land for a stipulated period after paying the land rent to the State.

Chapter II

Relevant businesses

3. This Law is relevant with the businesses being announced by the Commission with the official notification receiving the prior approval of the Union Government.

4. The following investment is termed as restricted business or barred business in the country.

(a) The businesses those are detrimental and negative to the customary cultures and tradition of the national races in the country.

(b) The businesses those are harmful to the health of the people.

(c) The businesses those are detrimental to the environment and the ecological system.

(d) Industries harmful to the community or are toxic.

(e) Industries using or producing chemicals that is considered as dangerous by international norms.

(f) Productions and services that by law are reserved for the local businesses.

(g) Industries using technologies, medicines or utilities in trial stage, or the international norms have not approved as safe to use.

(h) Long-term or short-term plantations that by law are reserved only for the citizens.

(i) Animal husbandries that by law are reserved only for the citizens.

(j) Salt-water fisheries that by law are reserved for the citizens.

(k) Any investment projects within 10 miles from the country’s border except from the business zones permitted by the government.

5. If an investment has profit for the country or citizens, especially the ethnic people, they can be permitted by the Commission with the approval from the Union Government.

6. The Commission has to submit the investments affecting the security, businesses, environmental and social lives of the country to the Union Assembly via the Union Government.

Chapter III
Intention

7. It is intended to provide the resources to the citizens and use the surplus in exporting; establishing working opportunities for the citizens; improving human resources; establishing infrastructures such as banks and currency exchanges, roads and highways; producing electrical energy; improving technologies; building communication networks; developing transportation networks including railway, shipping and airline; improving the country’s education system; enabling the citizens to compete in the international community; and ensuring standard businesses and foreign investments.

Chapter IV
Basic Principles

8. Investments will be allowed according to the following principles:

a. Providing financial and technological supports in order to fulfill the goals of the national development projects.

b. Establishing working opportunities for the citizens.

c. Improving the export industries.

d. Producing basic products in order to reduce importation.

e. Producing goods required a considerable amount of investment.

f. Improving production by providing high technologies.

g. Supporting productions and services that require a huge amount of investment.

h. Developing low-energy consuming industries.

i. Improving local areas.

j. Finding new sources of energy and utilizing recyclable energy.

k. Improving modern industries.

l. Protecting the environment.

m. Enabling sharing of information and technology.

n. Ensuring the stability and security of the country and citizens

o. Improving the knowledge and skills of the citizens.

p. Developing the bank and other financial services according to the international norms.

q. Establishing services essential to the citizens.

r. Ensuring the sufficiency of energy and resources for the country for both short-term and long-term.

Chapter V
Investment Form

9. Investment could be made in the following types and patterns:

(a) Foreign investors investing the full percentage in a business per the Commission’s instruction.

(b) Cooperating with citizens or government departments or other organizations.

(c) Working along with a charter agreed by all participating parties.

10. (a) In forming under section 9:

(i) The organization must be formed in accordance with the existing law.

(ii) If a joint-venture is formed, the ratio of foreign capital and local capital can be decided as mutually agreed by both sides.

(iii) The Commission must decide the minimum amount of foreign capital in an investment depending on business sector with the approval of the Union Government.

(iv) Foreign investors can submit the ratio of foreign capital - as prescribed by bylaws - in the prohibited or restricted businesses.

(b) In forming, as mentioned above, in carrying out the business and in liquidation on the termination of the business, other existing laws of the State will be accordingly applied.

Chapter VI
Formation of the Commission

11. (a) The Union Government is responsible for:

(i) forming the Myanmar Investment Commission with an appropriate Union level official as the chairperson of the Commission; and the experts from relevant government ministries, departments and governmental and non-governmental organizations, and other suitable persons as the members of the Commission.

(ii) selecting vice-chairperson, secretary and joint-secretary out of the members in the Commission.

(b) The members of the Commission who are not civil servants can enjoy the salaries and allowances agreed by the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development.

Chapter VII
Duties and Powers of the Commission

12. The duties of the Commission are as follows:

(a) The Commission shall, in scrutinizing a proposal, take into consideration facts such as whether the proposal accords with the basic principles of Chapter 4 in this law, financial credibility, and economic justification of the business enterprise, appropriateness of technology, and conservation and protective measures of environment.

(b) The Commission shall take necessary and prompt action in respect of complaints made by investors on failure to receive fully, benefits entitled to under this Law.

(c) The Commission shall scrutinize the proposals as to whether they are contrary to the existing laws.

(d) The Commission shall report its performance every six months to the Union Assembly through the Union Government.

(e) It shall also recommend to the Union Government measures necessary to facilitate and promote local and foreign investments.

(f) With the prior agreement of the Union Government, the Commission shall decide and change the type of investment, the amount of investment and the terms of investment.

(g) The Commission shall discuss with region or state governments about foreign investments which were approved by the Union Government for the economic developments in the regions and states.

(h) The Commission is responsible to know and take some measures on the discovery of natural resources and antiques which are not included in the original contract, apart from permitted investments on the ground and under the ground.

(i) The Commission shall scrutinize whether the investors follow the Foreign Investment Law, its generic laws, rules, regulations, orders, directives and facts in the contract of investments . If they do not follow them, the Commission shall take necessary legal actions.

(j) The Commission shall decide on the types of investment which do not require tax exemption and tax reduction.

(k) The Commission shall carry out the duties occasionally as assigned by the Union Government.

13. The powers of the Commission are as follow:

(a) The Commission may accept any proposal which in its opinion will promote the interests of the State and which is without prejudice to any existing law.

(b) The Commission shall issue a permit to a promoter on a proposal being accepted.

(c) In case an extension, relaxation or amendment of the terms of the permit or the agreement is submitted by those concerned, the Commission shall permit or refuse the permits after scrutinizing them in accordance with rules and regulations.

(d) The Commission may ask for evidence or facts from a promoter or an investor, at any time required as the Commission may deem necessary.

(e) Issuing a certain order to suspend the business, if firm evidence is found that an investor fails to follow the proposal it has submitted to the Commission for approval and the conditions of other related documents or the rules prescribed in the permit.

(f) Permitting or rejecting the bank proposed by a promoter or an investor.

14. The Commission may, for the purpose of carrying out its tasks, form committees and bodies as maybe necessary.

15. The Commission from time to time shall report its performance to the Union Government’s meetings.

16. The Commission shall submit quarterly reports on the transactions and progress of the enterprises it has permitted to the Union Government.

CHAPTER VIII
Duties and rights of the investor

17. The duties of the investor are as follow:

(a) to respect the existing laws of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar

(b) to establish and run businesses in accord with the existing laws of Myanmar

(c) to respect the provisions of the above laws and, rules, procedures, notifications, orders, directives and regulations in the permit

(d) to use the land that is leased out or permitted to be used in line with the rules and regulations adopted by the Commission and the provisions of the contract signed

(e) Leasing or collateralizing the land and buildings approved under the permit, the transferring shares and handing over businesses to another person within the terms of the contract can be done only with the approval of the Commission

(f) Not to conduct distinct physical changes in the land leased or permitted to be used without the approval of the Commission

(g) If natural mineral resources, ancient objects or treasure not concerned with the provisions of the original contract are discovered on the surface or underground of the land leased or permitted to be used, the Commission shall be immediately informed about the discovery. If the Commission approves it, operation may continue on the land. If not approved, the investor shall replace the land with another chosen one.

(h) In doing the investments, to act in accord with the existing laws so that the environmental pollution or degradation cannot be caused

(i) If a foreign company sells all its shares completely to another foreigner or a citizen, to register the transfer of the shares in accord with the existing laws only after seeking prior approval of the Commission and returning the permit

(j) If a foreign company sells some of its shares completely to another foreigner or a citizen, to register the transfer of the shares in accord with the existing laws only after seeking prior approval of the Commission

(k) to systematically hand over high techniques and expertise to the enterprise, department or organization concerned as per the contract

18. The rights of the investor are as follows:

(a) the right to sell and exchange the assets or transfer them in other ways in accord with the existing laws with the approval of the Commission

(b) the right to transfer and sell all the shares or some completely to another foreigner/citizen or another foreign company/citizen-owned company, if it is a foreign company

(c) the right to promote the proposed investment or foreign capital with the approval of the Commission

(d) the right to apply to the Commission for review and amendments so as to fully enjoy the deserving rights in accord with the promulgated law

(e) the right to apply to the Commission for getting benefits in accord with the promulgated law and taking action in response to any compensation

(f) the right to apply to the Commission for getting more benefits for developing new technologies, promoting the quality of goods, improving production capacity and reducing pollution in running an enterprise under the permit

(g) for the investors who invest in businesses in the regions with less economic development and poor transport and communication to facilitate the development of the entire nation, the right to enjoy an extended period of tax exemption and relief as prescribed in Chapter XII.

CHAPTER IX
Submission of Permit Proposal

19. The investor or promoter wishing to make the foreign investment shall send a proposal to the Commission in accord with the stipulations to obtain a permit.

20. The Commission shall:--

(a) accept or reject the proposal within 15 days after making necessary scrutinization of the proposal that was submitted in accordance with article 19;

(b) issue or reject a permit to the applicant within 90 days if the proposal has been accepted;

21. After being granted a permit, the investor or promoter shall sign a necessary contract with respective government department, government organisation or person and organisation to establish an investment business.

22. The commission shall permit the extension, relaxation, or amendment of the term or the contract in accordance with this law in case it is submitted by those concerned.

CHAPTER X
Insurance

23. The investor shall effect the prescribed types of insurances in one of the insurance businesses allowed by the State.

CHAPTER XI
Appointment of employees and workers

24. The investor shall:

(a) in appointing local workers, experts, and personnel for the areas that need special skill, at least 25 percent of local citizens must be employed for the initial two years from the day of starting operation, at least 50 percent in the subsequent two years, and at least 75 percent for the third period of two years. However, the Commission can adjust suitable time limit for knowledge-based businesses;

(b) train local workers to upgrade their skills in work implementation to appoint them in accordance with sub-section (a);

(c) appoint only local citizens for businesses where no special skill is demanded;

(d) carry out recruitment through employee recruitment center, local employment representatives, or the investor's own arrangements;

(e) in appointing local workers, experts, and personnel, the appointing contract should be signed by both the employer and employee in accordance with the existing labour law and bylaws;

(f) ensure equal rights for local workers to avoid bias in salary levels in appointing local workers as well as foreign workers to have equal ratio at expert level.

25. Foreign workers working at the investment business formed under the permit shall apply for work permit and visa to the Commission.

26. The investor shall:--

(a) draw the appointing agreement contracts in accordance with the stipulations in appointing employees and workers;

(b) ensure the rights from existing labour law and bylaws including basic salary, leaves, holidays and overtime pays, compensation, social security, and other insurances concerned with workers when specifying the rights and duties of the employer and workers and work rules on the appointing contract;

(c) settle disputes among employers, workers, employers and workers, workers and experts, or personnel in accordance with existing laws.

CHAPTER XII
Exemptions and Reliefs

27. The Commission shall, for the purpose of promoting foreign investments within the State, grant the investor exemption or relief from taxes mentioned in sub-section (a) out of the following exemptions or reliefs from taxes. In addition, the Commission may grant any or more than one or all of the remaining exemptions or reliefs from taxes:

(a) with respect of any enterprise for the production of goods or services, exemption from income-tax for a period extending to 5 consecutive years, inclusive of the year of commencement of production of goods or services; in case where it is beneficial for the State, exemption or relief from income tax for a further reasonable period depending upon the success of the enterprise in which investment is made;

(b) exemption or relief from income-tax on profits of the business if they are maintained in a reserve fund and re-invested therein within 1 year after the reserve is made;

(c) right to accelerate depreciation in respect of machinery, equipment, building or other capital assets used in the business, at the rate fixed by the union government to the extent of the original value for the purpose of income-tax assessment;

(d) relief from income-tax up to 50 percent on the profits, if the goods are produced to export by any enterprise;

(e) right to pay income-tax on the income of a investor at the same rates applicable to the citizens residing within the country;

(f) right to deduct from the assessable income, such expenses incurred in respect of research and development relating to the enterprise which are actually required and are carried out within the State;

(g) right to carry forward and set-off up to 3 consecutive years from the year the loss is sustained in respect of such loss sustained within 2 years immediately following the enjoyment of exemption or relief from income tax as contained in sub-section (a), for each individual enterprise;

(h) exemption or relief from customs duty or other internal taxes or both on machinery, equipment, instruments, machinery components, spare parts and materials used in the business, which are imported as they are actually required for use during the period of construction;

(i) exemption or relief from customs duty or other internal taxes or both on such raw materials imported for the first 3 years' commercial production following the completion of construction.

(j) exemption or relief from the customs duty and other internal taxes or both on machinery equipments, machinery components, spare parts and materials used in business, which are imported as they are actually required to use during the period of business extension under the permission of the commission,

(k) exemption or relief from commercial tax, if the goods are produced to export by any enterprise.

CHAPTER XIII
Guarantees

28. The Union Government guarantees that a business formed under the permission shall not be nationalized during the term of the contract or during an extended term.

29. The Union Government guarantees that a business operating under the permission of commission shall not be forced to terminate the business with any reason.

30. On the expiry of the term of the contract, the Government guarantees an investor of foreign capital is entitled to the rights to withdraw the type of the foreign currency that was invested.

CHAPTER XIV
Land Usage

31. The commission shall allow the period of leasing or using land from the initial time to 50 years during when the land is actually required for business use based on the type and capital amount.

32. Under section 31, the commission shall allow 10 years’ renewal of the business of the investor and another 10 years on the expiry if he or she is willing to continue the business.

33. With the purpose of the national economic development, the Commission shall acquire the initial agreement from an investor interested in lease or use of land before investing.

34. The Commission shall set the leasing price for the government’s properties after prior of approval with the union government.

35. Investor shall be allowed to make a joint venture or cooperation in agriculture and livestock breeding that are only entitled to local national by signing a contract.

36. With the prior approval from the Union Government, the Commission can set the longer period for the leased land for the investor with the view to ensuring national development and for the regions which have poor economy and communications.

CHAPTER XV
Foreign Capital

37. The Commission shall evaluate the foreign capital in terms of bank prescribed, and register it in the name of the investor. In so registering, the types of the foreign capital and the type of the foreign currency evaluated shall be stated.

38. In the event of termination of business, the person who has brought in foreign capital may withdraw foreign capital which he is entitled to withdraw as prescribed by the Commission within the time stipulated.

CHAPTER XVI
Right to Transfer Foreign Currency

39. The following shall be transferable abroad in the relevant foreign currency through the bank prescribed by the Commission at the prevailing official rate of exchange:--

(a) foreign currency entitled to by the person who has brought in foreign capital;

(b) foreign currency permitted for withdrawal by the Commission to the person who has brought in foreign capital;

(c) Net profits, after deducting from the annual profits received by the person who has brought in foreign capital, all taxes and the prescribed funds;

(d) Legitimate balance, after causing payment to be made in respect of taxes and after deducting in the manner prescribed, living expenses incurred for himself and his family, out of the salary and lawful income obtained by the foreign personnel during performance of service in the State.

Chapter XVII
Matters relating to foreign currency

40. (a) Investor can transfer money abroad according to a fixed exchange rate through a private bank permitted to provide foreign banking services.

(b) Investor shall open a foreign currency account in the type of foreign currency accepted by the bank, and a kyat account and carry out all financial transactions relating to the business enterprise.

41. Foreigners serving in any such economic organization shall open a foreign currency account and a kyat account in any bank providing foreign banking services.

Chapter XVIII
Penalties in respect of management

42. Investor shall be awarded a penalty or all penalties to the following if laws, rules and regulations, notifications, orders and directives released by the Commission are broken.

(a) warning

(b) temporary suspension of tax exemption or relief

(c) revocation of the permit

(d) blacklist

Chapter XIX

Addressing Disputes

43. In case of any dispute on the investment,

(a) the dispute must be addressed in a peaceful way among those involved.

(b) If it is not in accord with Section Part A,

(1) He or she has to obey the current rules and regulations if the respective contract does not mention the resolution of the dispute

(2) If the respective contract does mention resolution of dispute, he or she has to agree with them.

Chapter XX
General Provisions

44. For the purpose of meeting the energy demands of the national and the people and exporting only the surplus, the Commission, in accord with the law, may approve the submission of the investor proposing to invest with a system of sharing benefits from a joint-venture business between the investor and the Union Government or the government department/organization whose right is entrusted by the government or sharing benefits on a proportionate basis for conducting feasibility, test exploration, survey, digging and commercial production in the designated block of a joint-venture business between the state or a citizen and the investor with only the full capital of that investor in large projects such as oil, natural gas and minerals. If that business is capable of manufacturing products on a commercial scale, the investor and the Union Government or the government department/organization whose right is entrusted by the government shall have the right to share benefits on a proportionate basis.

45. Before the new law is amended, according to Union of Myanmar Foreign Investment Law (State Peace and Development Council’s Act 10/1988), the investors who invested with the SPDC’s law shall assume as the investors in the new law.

46. The investors shall be sued if he or she submitted with wrong facts or exemption of the list of statistics, the proof of documentations and financial and appointment of staff to the Commission, respective departments and government organization.

47. The law is the final, in accord with the rules, whatever the case is concerned with other laws.

48. The Commission shall hold the meeting in the manners prescribed.

49. The decision of the Commission is final according to the law.

50. A Commission member, (or) a member of committee or sub-committee, (or) a government staff must not be charged or sued in accord with the civil law or criminally against his/her act which was done honestly without breaking the rights which are required by this law.

51. To realize the provisions prescribed in this law, Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development or an organization will be required to bear (a) office tasks and (b) expenditure of the Commission.

52. An investor doing business under a permit issued by the commission in accord with Union of Myanmar Foreign Investment Law (Law No. 10/1988 issued by State Law and Order Restoration Council) which will be abolished by this law, will have his/her own right to continue running his/her business until the deadline set according to the concerned agreement.

53. While allowing a foreign investment to do in the country in accord with the Section (3) and (5), the Commission will have to report to the Parliament (Pyidaungsu Hluttaw) if an investment is against the benefits of the Government and the citizens.

54. If any provision in this law is contrary to a provision prescribed in an international treaty agreed and accepted by the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the international treaty provision is to be obeyed.

55. Before more bylaws and procedures required adding to the law are yet to be approved, the government can continue practicing the bylaws and procedures set by the Union of Myanmar Foreign Investment Law (Law No. 10/1988 issued by State Law and Order Restoration Council).

56. When implementing the provisions prescribed in this law:

(a) Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development shall issue any bylaw, rules and regulations, procedure, order, notification, and directive required in agreement with the union government within 90 days from the date when the law is enacted.

(b) The Commission shall issue any order, notification, and directive required.

57. The Union of Myanmar Foreign Investment Law (Law No. 10/1988 issued by State Law and Order Restoration Council) is abolished by this law.

(Signed by) Thein Sein
President
Republic of the Union of Myanmar

 
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