May 12, 2014

Malaysian firms must tap Myanmar market

The Myanmar Government is undertaking reforms on a progressive basis and it is therefore a must for Malaysian companies to be in the market now to tap on the opportunities, says International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed.

Speaking to Bernama after attending the 24th Asean Summit, here, Mustapa said trade between Malaysia and Myanmar was expanding rapidly.

Overall, total trade between Malaysia and Myanmar increased 35.9% for the first three months of 2014 from US$208 million to US$283 million.

Malaysia’s exports to Myanmar increased 54.8 per cent for the first three months of 2014 from US$153 million to US$236 million.

At the same time, Malaysia’s imports from Myanmar for the first three months totalled US$46 million.

Mustapa said Malaysia and Myanmar are enjoying a growing economic and commercial partnership, with both trade and investment showing an upward trend in recent years.

With a population of 62 million people, Myanmar’s market cannot be ignored by Malaysian companies, the minister said.

“The economic reforms in Myanmar are proving to be the real engine of growth,” he said.

The Myanmar Government has been introducing a series of economic reforms, which are providing greater confidence and optimism to the business community to invest and tap on the growing economic potentials in Myanmar.

Some of Malaysia’s major export products to Myanmar are palm oil, refined petroleum products, chemicals and chemical products, processed food as well as machinery, appliances and parts.

Malaysia’s major imports from Myanmar include rubber, vegetables, seafood products, sawn logs and sawn timber, as well as processed food.

Malaysia is Myanmar’s 7th largest investor, totalling US$1.65 billion as of March 31, 2014, although committed investments are much higher.

Among the sectors invested in are oil and gas, hotel and tourism, livestock and fisheries, and manufacturing.

Since 2010, Mustapa said his ministry and Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) have intensified promotional activities in Myanmar.

Several Specialised Trade and Investment Missions were conducted, covering oil & gas, construction, logistics, manufacturing and services industry.

Other promotional programmes to be organised this year are Specialised Marketing Mission on Maritime-Related Industries in August 2014; Cross-Border Mission to Myanmar, August 2014; Showcase Malaysia Exhibition 2014, October 2014; and Malaysia Services Exhibition 2014, October 2014.

Apart from programmes organised by MITI and Matrade, Malaysian trade and industry associations have also undertaken promotional visits to Myanmar.

On the average, Matrade Office receives over 20 enquiries and visitors per week.

“This is a very positive trend. Matrade will be sending an additional officer to be based in Yangon to assist Malaysian business community to enhance their presence in the Myanmar market,” Mustapa said.

The feedback from Malaysian companies operating in Myanmar has been encouraging, he said.

Mustapa, who met 22 Malaysian and Myanmar corporate leaders in Yangon before attending the summit, said a number of companies are expanding their operations. Some have been here almost 10 years.

Among the many Malaysian companies already operating in Myanmar are MarryBrown, Parkson, Petronas, Tan Chong Motors, Tefel Packaging Industries, Texchem and ZicoLaw.

The Malaysia-Myanmar Business Council (MMBC) is also representing Malaysian companies to facilitate their engagements with the relevant Myanmar authorities on business-related matters such as obtaining approvals for investments.

CIMB and Maybank have also opened up representative offices.

“Taking cognisance of the phenomenal and positive changes that Myanmar is going through, the opportunities for Malaysian companies to diversify their business and invest in Myanmar are aplenty,” Mustapa said.

“The feedback from the Myanmar-Malaysia Business Council is that the government is committed to make improvements which will enhance business environment and open further opportunities,” he said.

Under the Asean Economic Community (AEC), Myanmar will be eliminating import

duties on substantially all products effective Jan 1, 2015, with some flexibility for few products where the duties which are between 1% and 5% will be eliminated by Jan 1, 2018.

Myanmar has also liberalised over 80 services sectors now in terms of equity participation.

Source: Bernama