Rubber Farmers Seek Gov’t Help to Ward off Falling Prices

Myanmar’s rubber farmers have requested support from the government after compounding falls in the price of rubber have seen
many struggling to support themselves.
The sharp drop of rubber prices, a cash crop grown in almost all of Myanmar’s regions and states, in the 2013-2014 fiscal year, drove  almost a million farmers and workers at rubber plantations into financial hardship, Daw Mi Myint Than, a member of the parliament, said.
She said neighbouring countries had often helped struggling rubber growers in similar conditions, requesting the government to provide direct support to farmers and guarantee a minimum price for the rubber they produce.
However,deputy minister for agriculture and irrigation, U Ohn Than, said the government was unable to provide loans or set minimum prices for rubber due to scarcity of funds.
The price of rubber changes daily, depending on demand from the global market and large users of raw rubber. Thailand’s rubber exports, however, receive a larger price per tonne, $2,000, whereas Myanmar’s rubber exports only receive $1,500 per tonne, due to lower quality.
U Ohn Than said Myanmar’s rubber exports should therefore improve their production quality if they hope to improve the price they receive.
Factors including slowing global economic growth, lingering effects of Europe’s debt crisis and frequent fluctuations of global oil prices – often as a result of international conflicts – are seen as largely responsible for drops in rubber prices.
Declines in vehicle production in China, one of the world’s largest rubber consuming countries, and large expansions in their rubber production and reserves has seen a fall in rubber imports.
Myanmar has also seen a total expansion of 1.5 million acres in rubber plantation in almostt every staste and region except Kayah, Chin and Magwe, with production increasing 177,125 tonnes in 2013-2014 fiscal year. Mon state produced 10,000 tonnes of rubber in 2013-14 FY in 48,000acres.
Source from Myanmar Business Today, 24-30 July,2014

Government Inspects Manufacturing Business for Licences

Authorities are inspecting manufacturing businesses to uncover unregistered companies as a spread of unregistered small and medium businesses (SME) throughout Myanmar are thought to be undercutting local industrial production.
The Ministry of Industry’s Industrial Supervision unit’s director general U Thein Swe said private industrial businesses are wrong to think registering companies is a time consuming process without commercial benefits.
“There are advantages to being registered such as being eligible for loans and able to employ foreigners. We also share technologies with registered businesses,” he said.
SMEs are currently regulated by Myanmar’s 1990 private industrial law, while an SME Bill is being discussed at the parliament.
U Thein Swe said the government can fine businesses found to be operating without a licence under these regulations. About 50 to 60 unregistered companies are now getting registered every month, he added.
“The law invites businesses to register. If they don’t register we cannot accurately calculate the GDP of the country,” he said. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is the market value of all officially recognised final goods and services produced in a country. The statistic plays a key role the government’s monitoring of economic

progress and the implementation of development reforms.
But the government’s call for businesses to register isn’t solely based on their own administrative interests.
U Thein Swe said unregistered SMEs face increased land ownership and fraud disputes, which disadvantage local commercial production throughout the domestic sector.
“Registering businesses allows safeguard measures to be put in place, protecting trade and manufacturing licences, and protects weaker industrial sectors from excess foreign investment entering the market,” said a director of Shwe Thundayi cosmetic company.
By making businesses register, the government is attempting to unify industrial efforts and increase national productivity. The Ministry of Industry was restructured in December 2011 by integrating Ministry of Industry no. 1 and 2.
The ministry is also engaging in founding new factories and training facilities to improve or enable the production of transport vehicles, construction and agricultural machineries, and rubber-based and high tech products, officials said.

Private Banks in Myanmar to Raise Intetest Rate

    Two private banks in Myanmar — Kanbawza Bank and Cooperative Bank will raise their interest rates for saving and fixed
deposits starting August 1.
The current interest rate of 8 percent for saving deposits will increase to 8.25 percent, while that for one-month fixed deposit will
rise from 8 percent to 9 percent.
The rates for fixed deposits of three, six and nine months will also rise by 0.75 percent, 0.5 percent and 0.25 percent respectively.
However, the interest rate for fixed deposit of 12 months will remain unchanged at the previous rate of lo percent.
It is expected that all other private banks in the country will follow suit soon, state-run media announced.

Air Mandalay to Buy Up to Ten Mitasubishi Regional Jets

    Air Mandalay has signed an aircraft purchase agreement with Mitsubishi Aircraft for an order of six MRJgos with a purchase option
for an additional four, the local private carrier said.
Deliveries of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), Japan’s next-generation regional aircraft, are scheduled to start in 2018.
In the meantime, the airline will be expanding its fleet with six Embraer Regional Jets (ERJ) from Brazil, it said in an
announcement at the start of the annual Farnborough International Air Show in Hampshire, England. Yangon-based Air Mandalay, currently operates turboprop aircraft and is “seeking to

expand and enhance its fleet’s capability through the introduction of regional jets,” it said.
“We are dedicated to facilitating transportation in Myanmar and enhancing the travel experience of our loyal customers,” said Air
Mandalay CEO Gary J Villiard.
“Our plan is to expand our route structure in order to service our expanding customer base as the country’s air travel requirements
continue to show record growth.”
This agreement comes as local carriers try to serve both the local population of — and visitors to — Myanmar, as the country
transitions to an international standard air transport structure.
The addition of the MRJ will provide benefits to drive the airline’s expected growth in the region, Air Mandalay said.
Villiard said the company chose the MRJ for its advanced design characteristics, its promised customer support backed by the
Mitsubishi parent company and the reliability and economy of the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan Engine (GTF).
By 2032, Mitsubishi Aircraft anticipates demand of about 1,000 airplanes in the expanding Asian regional jet market. The
agreement is expected to enable Mitsubishi Aircraft to accelerate sales efforts across the region.
Thus far, 325 MRJ are on order but Air Mandalay is the first Asian airline outside of Japan to select the aircraft.
Founded in 1994, the airline currently serves 15 domestic destinations.

Ministry Unveils Final Draft of Advertisement Policies

    Myanmar’s Information Ministry has unveiled the final draft of advertisement policies for socially responsible media, and is inviting
advice and suggestions from the public, according to a statement from the ministry.
The advertisement policies comprise 14 sectors, including politics, religion, culture, education, tobacco and alcohol, illegal gambling
and lottery, non-profit organisations,children, private freedom, medicines, financial services, advertisement of products, property rights and environmental conservation.
The policies are aimed at promoting people’s trust in socially responsible media, reducing complaints against advertisements in
socially responsible media and disputes and encouraging a market- oriented economic system, said the statement.
The statement called for respect for private freedom and current laws. The rules for advertisement policies will take effect from
April 2015, the statement added.

YCDC to Ban Street Vendors from September

    The Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) has announced that beginning in September street vendors will be banned in 33
townships that make up YCDC’s territory.
Currently, street vendors are allowed to setup stalls on the pavement between the hours of 3-9 pm.
YCDC said street vendors and stalls are causing disruptions to passing pedestrians, contributing to traffic jams and irresponsible
waste disposals, which in turn deteriorates hygiene in the surrounding area and blocks the sewage system.
“We are planning to arrange a space for vendors to sell in the downtown area. We will clear them from the streets for the
convenience of pedestrians,” said a senior official from the YCDC markets division.
The ban has been planned with good intentions; however, it will hurt their livelihoods and income, street vendors said.
“It is not easy to allocate selling spaces to all the street vendors in Yangon. If selling on the streets is completely banned, we will
definitely struggle to make ends meet,” a vendor who runs a stall on Anawrahta road, said.
However,downtown residents say there are both advantages and disadavantages to having vendoors on the street.
They sell goods and foods with reasonable prices at convenient places, but they also disturb the passerby. Sometimes walking
space is so blocked that only one person can pass through at a time,” a resident of downtown Yangon said.
There has been a plan to open a night market for street vendors near Mahabandoola Park in the past, but this has yet to be
Currently, there are over 70,000 street vendors, with over 3oo,000 dependent family members, making a living on the streets of
Yangon, according to surveys.
The high number of street vendoors is pratically attributed to the lack of job opportunities available, leaving the poor with few
options but to choose convenient roadside selling of goods and foods as employment.
“There are also street vendors in other countries. Neighbouring Thailand is even famous for roadside and night markets, which
are popular tourist attractions. But the vendors there are about health and hygiene and don’t irresponsibly dispose of their waste.
“Here YCDC workers face the big task of clearing heaps of waste left by the vendors,” said a city project planner.
Starting in September, vendors caught selling on the streets or pavements will face charges and see their goods confiscated,said
an official from YCDC.

Bussiness News in Brief

Myanma Airways signs for six ATR 72s
Myanma Airways has confirmed its interest in ATR72- 600s, by placing orders for six of the type and options on six more at the
Farnborough air show last week.The state-owned carrier, which is to branded Myanmar National Airlines soon, will start taking delivery of the aircraft in 2015. Deliveries will run until 2017. The airline aims to replace its Fokker F28 regional jet and Man Aircraft MA6o turboprop with the ATRs, while it already operates three ATR72s.

Myanmar pharma sector expected to grow 10 – 15pc
Myanmar’s pharmaceutical industry is expected to grow 10-15 percent a year due to higher government spending on healthcare,
the Myanmar Pharmaceutical and Medical Equipment Entrepreneurs Association said at an expo. Myanmar’s pharmaceuticals market
is now estimated to be worth about $100 million to $120 million, but the industry imports more than go percent of the products. Indian suppliers enjoy the largest share at 35.4 percent, followed by Thailand, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Korea and Indonesia. About 6o percent of all products are sold in Yangon and Mandalay. There are only 10 domestic manufacturers.

South Korean owner sued for closing factory without compensation
The Labour Ministry has filed a legal suit against the South Korean owner of Master Sports Shoe Factory, in Hlaing Tharyar
Industrial Zone outside Yangon, for closing it without paying compensation to the workers, local media reported. Over 800 workers
staged a protest march in front of the South Korean Embassy last Thursday since their owner had fled without paying compensation.

Japan eyes Myanmar for raw rubber
Japan is to provide state of the art technology to process raw rubber and boost local production in a bid to find a new supply for
its tyre manufacturing industry. According to an agreement between the Myanmar Rubber Planters and Producers Association and Japanese manufacturers, Japan will provide technology to produce high-quality raw rubber in Yangon, Bago and Mon regions in return for exports. Japanese tyre production needs between 700,000 and 800,000 tonnes of rubber a year.

Shwedagon Pagoda Visitor Number Goes Up 14pc in Q1
The number of foreign tourists visiting Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda has reached 245,586 in the first half of 2014, up 30,000 from the same period last year, according to the pagoda’s Board of Trustees. During the six-month period, visitors in January topped with 50,398, followed by February with 60,691 and March with 49,599• Thai visitors accounted for the most. The entrance fee for foreign visitors was $8, taking the total earning from the tourists to $1.96 million during the period.

MAPCO to sell K5b worth ofshares
Myanma Agro-business Public Co (MAPCO) will sell K5 billion worth of shares over the counter by end-July, local media reported managing director Ye Min Aung of MAPCO as saying. Each Myanmar citizen can buy shares worth up to Ki billion at Kio,800 per each, he said. MAPCO, which is expected to be listed when the stock market begins operations in Yangon next year, sold about one billion worth of shares last year.

China remains top FDI contributor
China continues to be the leading foreign investor in Myanmar with more than $14 billion of cumulative investment as of the end of June, according to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA). Foreign companies have so far invested more than $46.71 billion in 12 sectors, including oil and gas, manufacturing, mining, hotels and tourism, transport and logistics, real estate, livestock and fisheries, agriculture, construction and services. Energy sector has received the most foreign investment, about 41 percent of the total, DICA data shows. Thailand is the second largest foreign investor country.

Miners Face Permit Delays As Parliament Debates New Bill

Myanmar’s mining enterprises are facing delays in receiving permits after a newly proposed bill aimed at relaxing the central government’s exclusive control over mining operations in the country stirred debate in the parliament.
The Mineral and Resource Committee of the Upper House recently drafted a new mining bill and submitted it to the Lower House. The Bill Committee of the Lower House said a provision in the bill that allows joint mining operations between the central and regional governments goes against the country’s constitution.
“We need to discuss further as [the new bill] contradicts the constitution,” told Dr Soe Moe Aung, a member of the Bill Committee.
Dr Soe Moe Aung said the newly proposed bill must be closely analysed to ensure regional government mining doesn’t undercut the country’s constitutional framework. State and regional governments will discuss the proposal in their respective parliaments to resolve the dispute, he said.
A mine operator from Kayah state told Myanmar Business Today that mining firms’ permit requests will be delayed by the government’s revision process.
“The delay to get mining field prmits will affect the development of special areas,” he said, referring to Myanmar’s underdeveloped and conflict-ridden staes such as Kachin and Kayah, which are rich in mineral resources.
In June, Myanmar was accepted as a “candidate country” to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) which requires the union government to disclose the financial statements and agreements between the state and mining companies to the public.
Ko Win Aung from the multi-stake holder group that is coordinating Myanmar’s accession into the EITI, an international standard that ensures transparency around countries’ oil, gas and mineral resources, said his group doesn’t accept constitutional restrictions preventing regional governments from operating mining fields in their respective states.
“These restrictions should not exist,” Ko Win Aung told Myanmar Business Today.
The EITI requires Myanmar government to produce social impact assessment reports and ensure that any mining bill passed takes into account all industry stakeholders.

Going on a Burmese-Food Diet in the Bay Area

Burmese food has been an undeserved straggler in the American hierarchy of Asian cuisines; in New York City, as far as I can tell, we only
have one dedicated. Burmese restaurant. But things are slowly changing as Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma, has finally opened to foreign tourists, and “Burma: Rivers of Flavor,” a deeply researched and sumptuously photographed cookbook by Naomi Duguid, has made the wider world more conscious of the cuisine, which mixes influences of China, India and Thailand with traditions from its own varied ethnic groups.
In the Bay Area, however, Burmese food has long been a known quantity.With plenty of character and low prices, it’s also perfect for a traveler on a budget. So during my recent three-day shopping “spree” in San Francisco, I went on an all-Burmese diet.
This was hardly a scientific or thorough examination; my choice of places was mainly based on where I was when I got hungry. That said, here is a selection of worthwhile spots. (I’m sure I missed out on some gems, so leave your suggestions in the comments area below.)
This was my first and favorite stop. I went with my newlywed friends Suzanne Kim and Eric Neis, who had been hosting me at their house in the Marin town of Tibtiron and were thus due a meal as thanks.. (A cheap meal, of course.)
The exterior at Pagan, which is in the Outer Richmond neighborhood, is rather slapdash — a hand-painted maroon- on-yellow sign wrapping around what looks like a ranch house. But they take their food seriously. Our waiter — who had patiently taken us through the menu to suggest the most traditional Burmese dishes (there are also Thai options) — created a tea leaf salad before our eyes, tossing the ingredients together tableside with modest flourish, a nice touch for a bargain restaurant. It was also presentation with a purpose, keeping the mushy, fermented tea leaves apart, until the last minute, from the crunchy peanuts and sesame seeds, the crisp lettuce, the ground shrimp, the punch of fried garlic bits and the zing of lime. This was not something you could create in a do-it-yourself-salad bar if you tried.
On our waiter’s advice, we also had pumpkin pork stew, a simple and satisfying dish with slow-cooked chunks of pork and soft chunks of squash. But Our favorite was the spicy eggplant and ground shrimp — the thin slices of eggplant, /us/a|i&bUycrispundcovecedwitb little clumps of paste our waiter said was made of tomato, onion, and “special spices.” Whatever it was, I wanted a bottle.
Little Yangon:
I had pressed the waiter at Pagan for his other favorite Burmese restaurants. He suggested this Daly City spot named after the country’s largest city. Again, Suzanne and Eric accompanied. It was immediately obvious this was a restaurant clearly aimed at the Burmese community: Burmese products, as well as the California-based Mandalay Gazette, a Burmese -language newspaper, were for sale.
Sitting at a table right behind us was a woman who identified herself as the aunt of the owner, and seemed to have little better to do, thankfully, than treat us like she was our aunt, bringing us extra napkins and rice. The dish we liked the best was the spicy fried pork — shredded, crunchy and with a kick. And a bit of courage paid off with a dish called “pork intestines, tongue and heart”; the offal got a sweet, tangy soak in a sauce made from tamarind powder that rendered it much more palatable than it sounded. Our Burmese aunt also explained and recommended some desserts, including shove kyi, sweet, soft parallelograms made of cream of wheat and coconut milk, and faluda, reminiscent of an ice cream float.
Burmese Kitchen:
Located in the Tenderloin district, this one didn’t have as much personality as the other two — it struck me as a more workaday downtown lunch spot, a bit dark and gloomy. But the prices were right. By this time I had gotten a bit more daring and ordered the shrimp with sour leaf ($7.50), a ver Burmese ingredient that I would euphemistically describe as “interesting” — in other words, a great choice to encourage your friend to order so you can try it. Alas, I was alone this time. So after separating out and eating the few shrimp, I also ordered a $5.95 coconut chick en noodle soup, a classic I’d been eyeing in the other restaurants, opting to invest 50 cents to have its crunchlevel upgraded with fried split peas.
Burma Superstar: True to its name, this three-branch chain is the most ballyhooed of the city’s Burmese restaurants. But one look at the menu (at its Oakland locatior where I stopped after visiting next-door Berkeley) and I almost didn’t go in. Most dishes were well above $10, generally my cut-off, the lamb chili a friend had ordered me to try was $14.95, and they also had some pricey cocktails. But lunch specials — three choices of full meals for $10 or $11 — saved the day. I got pork curry —big, tender chunks again, this tirne in a gentle curry — with cocon tit rice and a heap of salad made from pickled mango mixed with cabbage, fried and raw onions and cucumber packing a nice crunch. The rest of the menu had me drooling, so before I was tempted to order more, I made my getaway.
Source from traveller journal, 14 to 20-July,2014

Joan Bakewell discovers Aung San Suu Kyi’s country in a different light

In Burma tourism is coming out of the shadows and into the sunlight. For decades Burma’s military dictatorship – they renamed the country Myanmar – has held it in an iron grip . Opposition leaders such as Aung San Suu Kyi asked people not to travel there;visa restrictions have been strict and wars fought by their minority peoples have riven the country.
Much of this – though not enough – has now changed. In February I was at the Irrawaddy Literary Festival in Mandalay, where Aung San Suu Kyi was a major attraction, welcoming by her very presence the arrival of visitors from the West. She explained that much still remains to be done in Burma’s progress towards democracy. The constitution will have to be amended even to allow her to run for president. Citizens who have family members who are citizens of another country are currently not eligible and Suu Kyi – or “the Lady” as she is universally known in Burma – has sons who were born in Britain. Wherever I went she was spoken of with respect.
Meanwhile the UN’s special rapporteur for human rights in Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana, has just concluded his six-year mandate and earlier this week he submitted his report to the Human Rights Council . In it he declared that though much has improved — some political prisoners released and some limited freedom for the press – sectarian violence persists and threatens Burma’s progress. “Myanmar is only at the beginning of a transition,” he wrote, “and more fundamental reforms, including to the Constitution, will be needed to keep the process on track.”
Given the country’s slow emergence from decades of military rule, Burma remains at that stage when its tourist industry is still in bud, full of promise but not yet in overblown glory. The full flowering of tourist excess has yet to overtake it. Let’s hope it never does, and that skyscraper hotels, roads jammed with coaches and tourist sites given over to package holidaymakers are held at bay. At the moment a visit there has all the innocent pleasure of a quiet country and gentle people not yet spoiled by the needy, tourist-pestering behaviour seen in so many other places.
As the glossy pictures already featured in the travel brochures show, Burma has plenty to offer. But at the moment its infrasturcture is pretty poor. There are few major highways: visitors must depend on local flights to get around. From the air I looked down on a huge road-building project striking its way through an untouched landscape. Other than on major international routes, existing roads are virtually empty.
Outside the crowded city of Yangon – formerly Rangoon – there seems to be very much less traffic than we’re used to in Europe. Hire a car to take you out and about and you have the roads virtually to yourself – how soothing is that? My guide was happy enough to stop off at wayside villages, so that I could wander round the small huts and see the daily round: the oxen plodding in a circle, grinding the peanut oil into a pot, a couple of locals smoking huge rolls of local tobacco, and preparations going ahead for the next day’s initiation ceremony of small boys into the ranks of the monks.
Ah, yes, the Buddhist monks. They are everywhere, their crimson robes evident wherever you go. I am told that boys are expected to spend up to a year as a monk, moving into a monastery, having their heads shaved and donning the appropriate robes and sandals. Then later on, in their mature years, they are expected to serve again, this time maybe only for a few weeks. Girls enrol, too, shaving their heads and wearing pink robes. The nearest comparison is with our National Service of the 1940s and ’50s, a time when young men left home for a couple of years and enrolled in the service of the state. The monks aren’t the state, exactly, but there area great many of them.
“Do they work?” I asked, imagining what an economic burden such a cohort could be. I  was assured they were not idle.
Burma is unequivocally a Buddhist country: 80 percent of its people are Buddhist, paying homage at numerous pagodas, not worshipping a God, they insist, but paying respect to the ideas of the Buddha. At the same time they pay parallel homage to the nats: a whole gallery of animist spirits, less solemn than the stately Buddha and inhabiting the natural world and finding an easy acceptance everywhere. Their shrines often sit alongside Buddhist temples. It is the great variety and beauty of the many shrines and temples that are Burma’s great cultural heritage. It is where the tourists go. Everyone takes off his or her shoes at the entrance. It makes flip-flops the footwear of choice.
The most imposing of all pagodas is the Shwedagon in Yangon, its glittering gold surface visible from almost any point in the city. The great golden dome rises 300ft from the base, a platform on which clusters a whole array of shrines, images, fountains, temples,huge bells and, everywhere, images of sitting and standing Buddhas. Not far away the Chauktatgyi Buddha is reclining, the soles of his feet etched with enigmatic hieroglyphs. Mandalay, too, has its landmark shrines: at the Mahamuni pagoda, believed by some to be 2,000 years old, the tradition of coating the Buddha with slivers of gold (only men may do so) has left the lower limbs of the statue entirely obscured. Outside the precinct, the stone carvers are at work in a street of artisan workshops where more and more Buddhas are being chipped and polished. It certainly feels like a living religion.
But the most extraordinary place of all is Bagan, one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the world, and just a 30-minute flight from Mandalay. Here, between the 11th and 13th centuries, the kings of Burma built more than 1,000 temples in an area of 14 square miles: temple after temple, many with wall paintings and carvings. You climb the tallest to get a panoramic view; you visit others for their Buddhas; yet another for its view over the waters of the Irrawaddy River.
Tourism to this place is served by some excellent hotels, hidden unobtrusively below the level of the palm trees. Planning limits their height to 30ft. The vivid life of old Bagan goes on nearby; a daily market offers a colourful spread of fruits, vegetables, spices and meats There is a bank, even a cash machine – a rare blessing, for Burma is basically a cash economy. Best to arrive with a wodge of American dollars and pay as you go.
This is a lovely land of broad horizons, lush forests, wide plains and great winding rivers. I travelled by air and by hire car, but friends have gone trekking there;other plan to take a cruise down the Irrawaddy. The people are smiling and polite,keen to practise their English and be in touch with the outside world. The political direction of the country is reassuring for the traveller as much as for the Burmese. Global travel spreads enlightened ideas around the world: the time has come for Burma to enjoy such freedoms.
Source from traveller journal, 14 to 20 July,2014