Feb 4, 2013

Keidanren mission to visit Myanmar

The Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), the country's largest business lobby, plans to send a large-scale mission to Myanmar and neighboring Cambodia from Monday through Feb. 9.

Keidanren wants to address issues that prevent Japanese firms from doing business in Myanmar, including aspects of its legal system, at a time when business opportunities are expected to grow.

The United States and European countries have lifted restrictions on investment in the Southeast Asian country due to progress in reforms since President Thein Sein took office in 2011.

Japan, which recently canceled some debts owed by Myanmar, plans to resume soft loans to the country for the first time in 26 years by the end of March.

Myanmar "has only limited ability to accept foreign investment," a source familiar with Keidanren's plan said, adding that human resources development is the highest priority.

The mission, led by Keidanren Chairman Hiromasa Yonekura, is expected to put forward proposals for human resources development, including scholarship programs and job training in Japan.

About 140 people will join the trip, making it one of Keidanren's largest-ever overseas missions.

Yonekura will be the first Keidanren chairman to visit Myanmar.

The participants are expected to include about 20 other senior officers of the business group, including vice chairmen, as well as presidents of about 40 member companies in industries such as railways, insurance and nonferrous metals.

Participating companies are expected to hold private talks with local firms with the aim of increasing opportunities to conduct business in Myanmar.

The construction of an industrial complex is already under way in Thilawa near Yangon as part of a joint venture with Marubeni Corp. and two other Japanese trading companies.

Part of the complex is scheduled to open in 2015.

One of the goals of the Keidanren mission will be to assess which industries will be able to start business first at the complex, sources said.

Source: Daily Yomiuri Online