Dec 2, 2013

Construction starts on Japan-Myanmar JV industrial complex in Yangon

The construction of a joint venture industrial complex between Japanese and Myanmar companies started Saturday in Yangon with an official ribbon-cutting and ground-breaking ceremony held at the site.

The industrial complex, located inside the Thilawa Sepecial Economic Zone, about 23 kilometers south of the city center of Yangon, is expected to draw businesses involved in apparel, car manufacturing and other services, upon its completion in 2015.

The consortium, joined by three major Japanese trading firms, the government of Myanmar and nine local Myanmar companies, plans to prepare roads, sewage treatment equipment and other infrastructure at the 400-hectare area inside the 2,400-hectare Thilawa Special Economic Zone.

Mitsubishi Corp., Marubeni Corp. and Sumitomo Corp. will jointly hold a 49 percent stake in the consortium, to be capitalized at $100 million, while the remaining 51 percent will be owned by the Myanmar government and local private companies.

Speaking at the ceremony held at the construction site, Set Aung, chairman of the Thilawa Special Economic Zone management committee, said the event signifies "closer and stronger relationship and friendship" between Myanmar and Japan, adding that the project would open up "a new chapter" in the history of Myanmar, a largely untapped market in Asia.

The development of the Thilawa SEZ, the first-ever special economic zone in Myanmar, would not only contribute to the economic development of the country, but also to the locals residing in and around the area with increased employment opportunities, income, and consumption, he said.

He expressed hope that the project would attract more foreign investment to Myanmar, and pledged cooperation with the developers and the investing companies for the successful establishment of the SEZ.

"We stand ready for better coordination, facilitation and to provide any necessary assistance to all the stakeholders, especially to the developers as well as investors," Set Aung said.

Yoshihiko Isozaki, parliamentary vice minister of economy, trade and industry of Japan, who attended the ceremony as a guest of honor, said in his speech that the project would create job opportunities for ordinary Myanmar people.

"It is important that job opportunities can be created by receiving investments from abroad, so that the people of Myanmar can enjoy the fruits of the reforms," Isozaki said.

Many Japanese companies remain undecided about investing in Myanmar due to procedural complications, and so solving such issues to pave the way for potential investors to actually come in and create jobs for the locals would be the key to the success of the Thilawa SEZ, he added.

Source: Kyodo News International