MYANMAR: Traditionsl Food ‘ Myin Khwa YwetThoke ‘

10 -2 -2014 To 16- 2-2014

This light and crunchy salad suc­cessfully marries the bitterness of the horseshoe leaves with the sweetness of -the peanuts and sesame seeds. In Myan­mar, the leaves are considered to have medicinal properties and are believed to be especially good for the kidneys.

1/4 cup (60 ml) oil, for deep-frying

12 cloves garlic, sliced

30 g (1 /4 cup) dried shrimp, soaked 4 tablespoons finely sliced onion, soaked

100 g (2 cups) horseshoe leaves (sub­stitute any green leaves such as penny wort leaves or daikon cress), washed 2 teaspoons fish sense

2 teaspoons ground, roasted peanuts

1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds

2 birds-eye chillies, finely sliced 1 teaspoon lime juice

Heat the oil and deep-fry the garlic till crisp. Remove the garlic and retain the oil. Drain the dried shrimp and blend to a powdery fluff, Drain the onion slices. Combine all the ingredients, including 1 teaspoon of the garlic-infused oil, on a large plate and toss well.

Source : Traveller journal

Santino Cofe & Restaurant

PAING SITT THWAY MIN                                                       10 -2 -2014 To16- 2-2014

We introduce SANTINO Cafe & Restaurant to Bangkok food lovers who savour Thai taste. The menus of the restaurant are Hot Drink, Cold Drink, Bakery, European, Thai and Chinese Food. The cafe & restaurant derives its name SANTINO from purchasing Singapore made SANTINO Coffee machine and accessories, per source of a responsible person from the cafe and restaurant. The opening hour is from 7 am to 10 pm.

The price for carte du jour is from K-600 per cup of coffee to K- 10,000 per a slice of pizza. The curry is sold with K-7,000. The popular dish in the restaurant is Thai cuisine. Let go to taste of 45-year experienced chef d’oeuvre at SANTINO Cafe & Restaurant, No. (18A-1), Boyarnyunt Street, Dagon Township, Yangon


Source : Traveller journal

Chinese assessments of Kyaukphyu-Kunming railroad project up for review

YANGON—The Ministry of Rail Transportation is now reviewing Chinese assessments for construction of the Kyaukphyu-Kunming railroad project, the ministry has confirmed.

Myanmar and China have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the project.

“We are now discussing matters on the Chinese data and the MoU after holding a formal meeting at the office. Although China will cover most of the costs for construction of the Kyaukphyu-Kunming railroad, the project will take about 50 years with the Build, Operate and Transfer system,” said a ministry official.

Once constructed, the Myanmar portion of the railroad will pass through Rakhine, Magway, and Mandalay regions and Shan State.

Civic organizations and local residents alike have protested against the construction, pointing out that the project will bring many disadvantages to locals. Some political parties have also declared that there has been no agreement to proceed with the project.

Concerns centre on the possibility that China, now a global superpower, might interfere in Myanmar’s sovereignty with the construction of railroads and motorways passing through central Myanmar. More serious criticism says that the construction projects have raised concerns about national security: rapid construction of the Kyaukphyu-Kunming railroad project, according to some observers, might compromise Myanmar’s sovereignty.

China is now discussing with respective ministries the construction of railroads and motorways in Myanmar. At present, a feasibility assessment has been completed for the construction of motorways, and plans are under way to continue the construction projects.

In April 2011, China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC) signed a MoU with the Myanmar government for the construction of the Kyaukphyu-Kunming railroad project. The Myanmar side was led by Aung Min, former railways minister, and former vice-president Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo, who had retired from the job.

Nearly US$ 20 billion will be spent during the project.

Although China declared, on signing the agreement, that it would carry out the whole project within three years, a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) has not yet been signed for project implementation in Myanmar, according to the officer’s report of the ministry.

source: Eleven Myanmar

SCG’s Myanmar plant to produce 2Mt/yr

Myanmar: Thailand’s Siam Cement Group (SCG) aims to produce nearly 2Mt/yr of cement at its new plant in Myanmar once the US$400m plant starts operations in 2016.

“Our new plant in the country is expected to produce 5000t/day, which is about 2Mt/yr,” said Chana Poomee, country director of SCG in Myanmar. “We see a lot of potential in Myanmar because we consider it an Asean ‘mid-land.’ There are very good opportunities here. We believe in the future of Myanmar, so we’ve decided to invest,” he said. He noted that construction had progressed well, with full support from the government and Mon State.

A new 20km road is being constructed while the company repairs many roads in the state. The SCG country director also emphasised that the company had launched a number of corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities to improve the lives of people in Myanmar, which include public health and medical programmes, educational support for students and community-building activities. The firm’s CSR activities also include building new schools near the plant, mobile clinics that will provide medical services to the people and renovation of pagodas in Mon State.

“We hope to be able to improve the livelihoods of people in Myanmar through economic, social and environmental development, just as SCG is doing in the other markets that it operates in,” Chana said.

He added that the local residents were satisfied with the implementation of the new cement plant. “It took a long time for us to discuss the project with the government and the people. I am sure the local people will be satisfied with our plant thanks to our community-building programmes, which will be beneficial to all of them,” said Chana.

In recent months, the firm has begun engaging with the communities around the plant site to inform them about the planned developments. “We will introduce environmentally friendly technology such as waste-heat power generation and greenhouse-gas reduction. It may be better than our plant in Thailand because of the up-to-date technology that will be used in this plant,” Chana said.

source: Global Cement

The right foundation

OECD review urges government to continue regulatory reform

The government needs to continue its efforts to reform the regulatory framework and create a favourable investment environment to sustain economic development, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has urged in its first investment policy review of Myanmar.

The review, which took about 18 months to complete, was officially released at a ceremony at in Nay Pyi Taw on March 1 and was the focus of a discussion held at Traders Hotel on March 4 attended by ministers, government officials, foreign investors and other interested parties.

“The investment policy review has helped to provide a roadmap for reform to improve the investment climate, including both quick wins and more long-term reforms,” the head of investment policy reviews at the OECD’s Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs, Stephen Thomsen, told Mizzima Business Weekly in an email on March 5.

The review had also helped to build capacity in the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) and elsewhere in the government “to implement these reforms and has improved both transparency and inter-ministerial capacity on investment climate issues,” Mr Thomsen said.

The review was praised by U Myo Min, the director of DICA, under the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development, in an opening speech at the March 4 event.

“The review allows us to take advantages of OECD diagnosis and benchmarking to support Myanmar’s ambitious reform programme,” U Myo Min said.

“It also provides access to recommendations based on good practices in investment policy making and implementations; we are looking closely at many recommendations made by the OECD,” he said.

U Myo Min acknowledged that the government needed to continue to streamline procedures for improving investment while simultaneously minimising policy uncertainty.

“We need to review the many restrictions on foreign investment over time and gradually to align our investment regulations with those in other countries,” he said.

The government also needed to continue to improve mechanisms for promoting investment, such as through the one-stop centre that opened recently in Yangon.

U Myo Min said the government was moving quickly to improve the investment climate, such as through the Foreign Investment Law and the Special Economic Zone Law, but recognised that much more needed to be done.

“The OECD recommendations will help provide a roadmap for reforms,” he said.

Mr Thomsen said the new investment law was a positive step and welcome efforts to harmonise the process.

“There are a number of steps the government is taking, but the question is if the government moves very quickly what will the problems be in implementing the legislation,” he said.

Once enacted, laws needed to be implemented and enforced, he said. The government needed to help build capacity to ensure laws were properly enacted and enforced.

The investment policy review says that the government should enhance the level of legal protection and predictability provided to investors in the current laws. It said that if additional legal standards of protection were incorporated in the current legislative framework, the scope and the context of the protection granted to investors must be clearly delineated and defined.

Elaborating on these suggestions in his email, Mr Thomsen said that if the government chooses to strengthen the protection dimension of its investment legal framework – which is still rather poor on investment protection and is mainly focused on incentives as well as screening procedures – it should be clear about what exactly it is granting to investors.

Incorporating additional standards of legal protection amounted to committing to extra legal obligations for state authorities, to which they must agree to be bound, he said.

Mr Thomsen cited unlawful expropriations as an example of the need to carefully delineate the scope and content of protection provisions.

Better protection against unlawful expropriations would send a positive signal to investors, he said, adding that the existing law lacked clarity because while it prohibited the nationalisation of businesses, it was silent on other forms of expropriation.

Mr Thomsen said the government would have to decide what types of measures it would adopt to protect investors.

“If they want, for example, to preserve their right to issue regulations that may amount to an indirect expropriation, they should clearly draft the expropriation provision accordingly. If they do not so, the risk is either to provide a protection that is too vague and uncertain to truly reassure investors; or to overcommit and thus to take the risk to be held liable for a violation of investors’ granted rights – which might imply large amounts of money to be paid in compensation,” he said.

Mr Thomsen also raised the issue of national treatment provisions in investment legislation.

“It might be a positive step towards a more friendly investment climate to incorporate an NT (Non-Tariffs) clause in the investment legislation. But in such a case, it is important that exceptions to this principle of non-discrimination between foreign and domestic investors are made in a clear and unambiguous manner, either in the separate regulation or in the law itself,” he said.

“The idea is that in adopting unambiguous legal provisions, the government provides more legal predictability and security to investors but also to itself, and thus understands what it is signing up for,” Mr Thomsen said.

The review said Myanmar is the second most restrictive economy for foreign investment in terms of statutory restrictions and that foreign direct investment would rise by more than 30 percent if the government eased restrictions.

Mr Thomsen said that in the short to medium term, the priority should be to simplify and reduce the scope of the Myanmar Investment Commission’s approvals process.

He said screening should focus on the largest and most environmentally sensitive projects or those with the greatest potential social impact.

Other investors should only have to notify DICA that they had fulfilled the necessary conditions to invest. This would provide greater certainty to potential investors and increase their willingness to invest, Mr Thomsen said.

Myanmar offers tremendous potential for foreign investors, including those from OECD countries, Mr Thomsen said.

Some potential investors were waiting to see how the situation developed during the next two years, but many wanted to invest quickly to benefit from a first mover’s advantage in the market and from competitive wage rates in Myanmar, he said.

There was a marked increase last year in investment in manufacturing, such as garments, and in tourism, he said.

The review raised concerns about duplication, referring to over-lapping responsibilities evident among some of the 30 government ministries, as well as poor inter-ministerial cooperation. It said this affects both policy effectiveness and the overall investment climate because of the uncertainty created for investors.

Asked about the impact on potential investment of the political landscape of the elections due to be held next year, Mr Thomsen said some investors were waiting to see what would happen.

“I think some investors are slowing down; they’re waiting to see,” he said.

“Many investors are coming into Myanmar: Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and many others. So, I think investors are coming. Once the election is out of the way, there might be a flood of investment,” Mr Thomsen said.
The review stressed that the objective of a good investment climate is not just to increase investment but also to improve the flexibility of the economy to respond to new opportunities as they arise.

This meant allowing productive firms to expand and those which were uncompetitive, which included state-owned enterprises, to close.

It said the government needed to be nimble and to respond to the needs of the business community through public consultation and be prepared to change course quickly if a policy failed to meet its objectives.

It urged the government to create a champion for reform within the government itself.

“Most importantly, it needs to ensure that the investment climate supports sustainable and inclusive development,” it said.

Mr Thomsen said it was important that the government was careful to ensure that the pace of reform did not get too far ahead of the capacity of individual ministries to implement legislation.

“There is a justifiable urge for quick wins, but laws need to be implemented and enforced if they are to have the desired impact,” he said.

“The government should also think about reducing the scope for investors to benefit from tax holidays. This money would be better spent on education and infrastructure.”

source: Mizzima

Myanmar inspects Thai firm’s juice for coliform

Thailand-based FoodStar’s juice is subject to examination by Myanmar’s food-safety authorities for alleged contamination with coliform and mould, Eleven Media reported.
According to lab results from the Myanmar Ministry of Cooperatives, samples of coliform and mould have been found in DeeDo juice.

If consumed, the inedible fungus in the food can cause massive intestinal and stomach cancers, said Ba Oak Khine, chairman of that country’s Consumer Protection Association.

Tin Zaw of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs said: “We have given directions to the offices in nine regions and districts to examine whether [contamination] has occurred in Yangon or in other places. Then, we will immediately send the samples to the Food and Drug Administration Department and wait for the results. We will take action depending on the outcome.”

Established in 1993, FoodStar has manufactured and distributed juice and yoghurt beverages under the DeeDo brand, which has been exported to many countries.

source: The Nation

A rainbow of hilltribes, precious stones, and sacred traditions

With its rich indigenous culture and proud history that includes its own tribal traditions of royal courts and ancestry, Shan State represents another of Myanmar’s mountainous regions and is arguably the country’s best place to live in perfect harmony with nature.


The largest state of Myanmar, accounting for one fourth of its land area, Shan State lies in the middle east of the country and is bordered by Kachin State and China to the north, Laos and Thailand to the east, Kayah State to the south and Sagaing and Mandalay regions to the west. Due to the movements of tectonic plates, the Shan highlands are characterized by stone layers including marble.


With its cold climate, Shan is an ideal destination for vacation, recuperation and research into its flora and fauna. Areas in high altitudes experience minus temperatures during the high season in December and January that sees an influx of tourists. In the summer, the region enjoys a mild climate, unlike areas in central and lower Myanmar. The rainy season is from May through October, but rainfall is common in the dry season.

Natural resources and products

Shan State boasts an abundance of mineral resources such as lead, silver, zinc, copper, iron, charcoal, antimony and tin, along with precious stones such as top-quality ruby and sapphire. As well, semi-precious Shan stones such as ruby-spinel and topaz are among the most sought-after by gem traders.


Shan is home to many hill-tribes, such as the Palaung, Pa-O, Lisu, Akha, Black Lahu and Red Lahu, themselves representing the various Shan sub-tribes. The Shan are descended from the Tibeto-Burman, like other ethnics in Myanmar.

Language and religion

With the state sharing a border with China and Thailand, the Shan speak a language similar to that of the Chinese and Thai. The majority of Shan people practise Theravada Buddhism, but other schools of the religion are also in practice.

It is common knowledge in Myanmar that the Shan are well versed in black magic, wizardry and witchcraft, although their expertise in these fields is often exaggerated. It is true, however, that the Shan utilize quasi-Buddhist talismans to raise their game in business. They also believe in astrology and premonition, especially portentous signs.


Shan State boasts good earth fit for various agricultural activities, especially terrace agriculture and organic horticulture. Shan State is home to many tea plantations, and tea leaves are one of the region’s important economic crops. The Shan engage in hunting, raising livestock and running fisheries, in addition to making handicraft products. Shan people produce top-rated silverware, lacquerware and hand-made fabrics.

Hpaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival

Shan State is known for its world-famous Inle Lake, located in Nyaung Shwe Township of southern Shan State. The annual Hpaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival at Inle Lake attracts pilgrims from across the country, as well as foreign visitors. The pagoda is adorned with five Buddha images made of “Thit-ka-nat” wood, which was brought here from Meikhtila in central Myanmar by King Alaungsithu of Myanmar’s Bagan Dynasty (circa 1112 to 1167). The heavy gilding of the images over the years by pilgrims has resulted in the images losing their original shapes.

Legend has it that, during the transport of the images to the pagoda, the boat carrying the sacred cargo capsized in Inle Lake because of a rainstorm. Only four images could be salvaged at first. But a few days later, to everyone’s surprise, the fifth image showed up at the pagoda covered in algae.

The pagoda festival is held on the seventh waxing day of the traditional month of Thidingyut (October) on Inle Lake every year. During the festival, a boat race and a traditional Shan dance are held in Nyaung Shwe.

source: Eleven Myanmar

Sustaining Progress and Avoiding Emerging Market Volatility in Myanmar

After half a century of isolation, Myanmar’s immediate challenge is to sustain reforms, boost foreign investment and diversify its industrial base. Unlike other Asian tigers, it must cope with a far more challenging international environment.

Recent headlines from Myanmar have caused unease in the United States, Europe and Japan. While the controversies are social by nature, they have indirect economic implications.

First, the aid agency Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) was ordered to cease operations as the President’s office alleged that the MSF was biased in favor of Rakhine’s Muslim Rohingya minority. Then, President himself asked parliament to consider an intermarriage law, which appears to call for the kind of restrictions that opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has condemned.

Meanwhile, the global agriculture giant DuPont launched its business operations in the country. Indeed, as foreign companies have been rushing to Myanmar, the commercial capital Yangon is struggling with Southeast Asia’s highest office rental rates.

But could the recent emerging market volatility sweep across the country?

Catching up in the post-globalization era

In the next 5-10 years, Myanmar has potential to evolve into a “mini-BRIC”; that is, a rapidly growing large emerging economy – but only if it relies on the right growth conditions and can sustain the momentum.

Since taking office, President Thein Sein has introduced a slate of reforms and significantly improved Myanmar’s ties with Washington and European countries, which has unleashed a rapid inflow of Western trade and investment. The advanced economies are fascinated with Myanmar, its population of 60 million people and the last remaining emerging economy.

Economically, Myanmar lost half a century of progress, due to its geopolitical insulation. With underdeveloped institutional capabilities, poor revenue performance has led to persistent fiscal deficits, which have been financed by the central bank. As a result, volatile inflation averaged 23% between 2001 and 2010, which hit the poor hard, undermining domestic confidence in the kyat.

Myanmar is as large as France, but has a young labor force, abundant natural resources, including natural gas, copper, timber and gemstones. In 2012/13, Myanmar’s economy grew at 6.5%. Fueled by increased gas production, services, construction, foreign investment and strong commodity exports, it is on track to grow 6.9% in the medium-term.

As it seeks to diversify its foreign trade and investment, Naypyidaw is amidst a delicate balancing act between Chinese and Western capital. To succeed, it must find ways to protect both its old and new investors. Domestically, the critical challenge will be to use these resources to diversify the country’s nascent industrial structure.

The emergence of Myanmar has often been compared with that of Asia’s tiger economies in the 1960s and 1970s, and China in the 1980s. There is a major difference, however. During the past decades, emerging economies in Asia benefited from the booming global integration. Today, the global landscape is far more challenging.

True, recently global activity has picked up as growth prospects grew firmer in the second half of 2013, thanks to the lingering recovery in the advanced economies. But in these nations, growth remains policy-driven and is not yet self-sustained.

While the U.S. has recovered fastest, its exit from the monetary stimulus is likely to take until the end of 2010s. Europe will cope with policy-driven support well into the 2020s. And Japan hopes to overcome its two “lost decades” with a bold reform gamble.

Further, a new bout of financial volatility has recently affected certain emerging and advanced economies, as markets reassess their fundamentals. This volatility began to rise last fall, intensified in December, when the U.S. Fed started its tapering, and peaked in January after the Fed continued to taper.

Given high reliance on the abundant natural resources and low productivity in agriculture, Myanmar’s economy is vulnerable to potential shocks, however.

Defusing risks

Let’s focus on the common denominators in those fragile emerging economies that were penalized the most. Typically, many had fiscal and currency account deficits, excessive inflation, falling growth rates and persistent, long-standing political uncertainty fueled by impending elections.

Unlike India, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey or South Africa, Myanmar has not been adversely affected by the recent volatility. On the contrary, the outlook is positive and the economy’s growth could rise to 6.9% in the medium-term, as long as the reform momentum will prevail.

While reforms do protect Myanmar in the long-term, the short-term challenges are a different story.

After all, while Myanmar’s budget deficit decreased to 3.7% of the GDP, the currency account deficit increased to 4.4% of the GDP in 2012/13. In the past, inflation has haunted the country, but was barely 2.8% in 2012/13; however, it has risen significantly, on the back of food prices, housing rental costs and fuel.

So economic risks exist, but remain subdued as long as there is a solid growth momentum. What about political risk?

The next general election is due by November 2015. While the National League for Democracy has said that it would participate in the election even without a constitutional amendment, its leader Aung San Suu Kyi has vowed to challenge the old charter that blocks anyone whose spouse or children are overseas citizens from leading the country.

Political risks do exist and may intensify, but as long as they will not cause political fragmentation, reform momentum can be sustained.

However, Myanmar’s internal ethnic and religious friction is a different story. While it does not directly threaten the growth momentum or the ongoing reforms, it does have potential to dampen investor interest in the West, shift resources from economic development to political consolidation and aggravate domestic divisions.

Accelerating progress

Further, not all risks are internal. In any major crisis, transmission channels play a central role. Even if progress will prevail internally, but fails externally, Myanmar would be affected, due to financial, trade and investment transmission channels.

In this case, there are several potentially negative scenarios, including a stalled US recovery, a new bout of uncertainty in Europe, a possible failure of reforms in Japan, an unanticipated slowdown in China, or further plunge of the commodities.

The only way for Myanmar to move ahead is decisive and accelerated progress. That requires at least the following:

– A strong reform momentum to avoid growth reversals, while building resilient institutions and deepening the rule of law;

– Inclusive economic growth to ensure that catch-up growth will benefit all segments of the society in the entire country;

– Reconciliation to overcome the kind of ethnic friction and religious violence, which were initiated during colonialism, but which have been re-ignited by an impending sense of nation-hood.

– Adequate political consensus among the large parties to support enforcement in order to enable change, even when it challenges entrenched interests.

The original version was published by Myanmar Business Today on March 13, 2014

Dr Dan Steinbock is the research director of international business at the India, China and America Institute (USA) and a visiting fellow at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (China) and EU Center (Singapore). For more, please visit:

source: EconoMonitor

ADB urges central gov’t to confirm loans for Green City project

MANDALAY — As implementation of the Green City project is expected soon and the project will take eight years to complete, the central government needs to confirm the loans provided by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the project, according to advisers from the bank.

Eric Fonda from the ADB said the bank wants to know which organisation will confirm the loans that will be used for the project.

He suggested that the Mandalay regional government submit the issue to the central government and the Union Parliament to confirm the loan.

The Asian Development Bank has already granted US$2 million (Ks 1.94 billion) for the Green City project in Mandalay. The project is aimed at improving sanitation, the water supply, and transportation infrastructure in the seven poorest wards in Pyigyidagun and Chanmyathazi townships in Mandalay. It is planning to loan US$60 million for the project and only needs to sign the agreement with the government.

The agreement is expected to be signed by 2015. The ADB wants to know which organisation will take responsibility for replaying the debts, said Fonda.

According to Fonda, the Ministry of Finance has full responsibility for implementing the project while the Mandalay regional government has the responsibility for maintaining it.

The bank and the National Planning Department are currently in discussions to draw up a strategy for implementing nationwide development projects.

source: Eleven Myanmar

BLP launches Myanmar partnership and Asia network

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has become the latest firm to move into Myanmar through a tie-up with local firm Legal Network Consultants (LNC).

The Yangon-based firm is headed by Khin Mar Aye and the relationship is part of BLP’s newly-launched Asia network, which it will use to join up with other local firms across the region.

BLP is the latest in a rush of firms entering Myanmar.Baker & McKenzie was one of the first to establish a dedicated Myanmar practice in 2013 (21 January 2013) and then set foot in the region with a Yangon office in 2014, led by infrastructure and corporate partner Chris Hughes (18 February 2014). It was followed by Allen & Gledhill which launched an associate firm in Yangon (25 February 2014).

Japanese ‘big four’ firm Mori Hamada & Matsumoto also confirmed it was opening in the region earlier this year (20 January 2014).

BLP currently has three offices in Asia after obtaining approval to open a representative office in Beijing in February 2013 (20 February 2013). Beijing is the firm’s first office in mainland China and is led by the firm’s former chair Peter Robinson.

Its first Asia office was opened in Singapore in 2007 (29 January 2007) followed by an office in Hong Kong in 2011 (17 June 2011).

BLP’s Singapore office has been servicing the Myanmar region until now. It is currently home to most of BLP’s Asia-Pacific contingent and concentrates on debt issues and structuring cross-border transactions under the leadership of Alistair Duffield.

Earlier this week the firm announced the hire of Norton Rose asset finance partner Nigel Ward, who will be joining its Hong Kong office. He will be the firm’s fifth asset finance partner and has worked with clients including Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and China Development Bank.

Duffield said the opportunities in the power, oil and gas, mining, infrastructure and real estate sectors were of particular interest to BLP.

source: The Lawyer

Public company formed for Kyaukphyu SEZ project

SITTWE—A public company comprised of 11 Myanmar businessmen has been established for the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) project, according to local reports.

Mya Han, also chairperson of the Fortune International Company in Myanmar, will be acting as chair of the newly formed public company.

Nearly US$ 277 million (Ks 269.5 billion) will be spent to build the Kyauk Phyu SEZ. According to international rules and regulations, Singapore-based CPG Consulting Company has been selected as an adviser to invite developers who want to invest in the SEZ. The Kyauk Phyu SEZ is now being implemented in four phases. Among them, three phases have been completed. For the final stage, the implementation of SEZ tasks will be carried out once the developers have been chosen.

source: Eleven Myanmar

EEPC India organises trade fair in Myanmar

Aiming to forge business ties with Myanmar and tap opportunities in the mineral-rich nation’s market, engineering exporters body EEPC India today kicked off the ‘Indee’ exhibition in Yangon. “Indee Myanmar attempts to build a holistic relationship with the Myanmar industry, particularly in the engineering sector,” Minister of State for Commerce & Industry E M S Natchiappan said in an official statement.

“With emphasis by India on the Look East policy, Myanmar is the gateway to the entire ASEAN region where India needs to strengthen trade and investment relations,” he said. India and Myanmar can set up joint ventures in sectors such as rice mill, sugar mills, cotton ginning and enhance cooperation in the capital goods sector, he said.

Over 100 companies are participating in the fair being held between March 13-15. It being held days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Myanmar for the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Summit.

Indian engineering firms are showcasing a range of products like industrial boilers, cables, IC engines, power distribution, agricultural machinery and equipments, besides instrumentation and general engineering products.

India-Myanmar trade is just about USD 2 billion, as against India’s total global trade of over USD 800 billion. Exports to Myanmar are even lower than imports at about USD 500 million, EEPC India said.

Indian engineering exporters ship items like tractors, rice milling machines, dal polishing equipment, oil mills, auto power transmission and electrical switch-gears to Myanmar.

source: Business Standard

Department urges more border trade with Myanmar

The Foreign Trade Department of the Commerce Ministry suggests that the Thai private sector expand border trade and increase investment in Myanmar to prepare for Asean Economic Community, which takes effect next year.

Bangjongjit Angsusingh, deputy director-general of the department, said its officials visited Tak province to provide information on trade and investment opportunities in neighbouring countries to local business operators given Thailand’s geographical advantages. Tak and surrounding areas are located in the East-West Economic Corridor under the Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Cooperation programme.

The lifting of trade sanctions by Western nations on Myanmar has attracted investors wanting to cash in on that country’s abundant natural resources and the lowest labour costs in Asean. Hence Myanmar would be a good target for labour-intensive industries. Thailand should boost trade with Myanmar along the 2,400-kilometre shared border, Bangjongjit suggested.

In the past the Foreign Trade Department, state and private sector representatives have discussed trade and investment opportunities with local business operators and trade associations. They have noted obstacles to border trade and means to boost it in the Myawaddy economic zone through trade promotions, exhibitions and so forth, he said.

Foreign Trade Department officials visited Myawaddy, which covers 1,165 rai (186 hectares) and is divided into two sections, for import and export. Among the goods being traded are Thai-made household consumer goods, agricultural products, ores and minerals, and wood products.

However, the traffic flow on the narrow roads is not conducive for trade, and will be expanded to accommodate two-way traffic for about 40 kilometres. Once the road expansion is completed, the commuting time and transport cost will be reduced significantly to support much more border trade activities in the future.

Thai-Myanmar border trade volume last year amounted to Bt196.87 million, with exports accounting for Bt79.45 million and imports Bt117.41 million. Thailand’s trade deficit was Bt37.96 million. Its main export goods were oil, beverages, cloths and yarns, while imported goods included natural gas.

Currently, the Mae Sot border crossing accounts for the highest trade volume of goods (excluding natural gas).

source: The Nation

Kyaukphyu-Ruili Corridor construction to begin soon, summit told

A study of the Kyuakphu-Ruile Corridor project linking Myanmar and China is now complete, so construction will begin soon, delegates to the Myanmar Construction Summit were told on Wednesday (March 12).

“This summit is begin held to attract foreign investors to the transportation sector, including ASEAN and Asian highway systems. This also includes ‘friendship roads’ and bridge projects with Thailand and Laos,” Kyaw Kaung Cho, executive engineer for public works under the construction ministry, told the summit.

The event revealed seven major local highway projects that will be implemented to connect international highway systems: Shwebo-Myitkyina, Mawlamyine-Yay-Dawei-Myeik-Kawthoung, Meiktila-Taungyi-Kengtung-Tachilek, Monywa-Pale-Gantgaw-Kalay, Yargyi-Kalaywa, Mandalay-Thabeikkyin-Bhamo-Myitkina and Minbu-Ann-Sittwe.

“Besides the Kyaukphyu-Ruili Corridor, Myanmar and China have other bilateral agreements for more construction. We expect that the corridor project will be implemented soon,” said Thet Zaw Win, executive engineer for the construction ministry.

Moreover, the 122-kilometre long Kaladan Multi-Model Transport Project, which will link Myanmar and India, will be implemented once a feasibility study is completed. In addition to these projects, implementation of the GMS Economic Corridors was also discussed during the summit.

To implement these road projects, at least 28 local companies have been permitted to build about 3,399 miles of road length under the Build-Operate-Transfer system.

“The ASEAN highway system and local highways have been connected already. However, some parts of the roads need to be upgraded to meet international norms. Previously, we discussed an Italian-Thai development for the projects, but that has already been dismissed,” an official from the construction ministry said.

For instance, he said, connecting ASEAN highways means that tunnels will have to be constructed through mountains on the Myanmar side, such as Pontaung-Ponnya Mountain for Tamu-Monywa and Taungyi-Kengtung roads.

“For those tunnel constructions, we need foreign assistance and investment,” the official said.

The ASEAN highway system is divided into seven sections. For the implementation of section AH1, the construction will begin during the next fiscal year (2014-15). It will cost US$ 146.08 million for road construction and US$ 18.15 million for bridge construction. Similarly, a total of US$ 166.1 million will be required for section AH2, US$ 42.70 million for section AH3, US$ 75.67 million for section AH111 and US$ 199.03 million for section AH112, for which implementation is expected during 2014-16.

Section AH123 is the highway that will link Taninthayi Region to Phunmron Valley in Thailand. It will be constructed by the developer for the Dawei Special Economic Zone.

source: Eleven Myanmar

Agriculture: Burma must ease export laws to encourage FDI

In an effort to restore Burma as a top world rice exporter, critics of the government have advocated for improving and revising current rice policies and export regulations.

The Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) has claimed that unless the government encourages foreign investors to invest in the rice industry, the country’s hopes of ensuring domestic production and surplus for exporting are unlikely to come to fruition.

The MRF might therefore have contradictory feelings toward the recent news that a Singapore company will invest in Burma’s agriculture and logistics industries – two industries that could presumably facilitate the growth of rice business and exports.

However, the current plans are focused on boosting coffee agriculture in the country, not rice. A joint-venture with a Swiss commodity trading company will include planting 3,700 hectares of robusta coffee in the Irrawaddy Delta region with plans to invest US$20 million over the next four years.

The companies say the coffee will all be exported, and the Swiss company certainly has the experience in global coffee trade to make this happen. The Singapore-based company will also invest in Burma’s dairy industry, although it looks to be heavily reliant on imports for now.

Rice exports to China have dropped from about 3,500 tons daily to only 2,500 tons daily, amidst falling prices and currency fluctuations.

The MRF has already been looking to other markets to boost exports and has reportedly finalized a deal with Ivory Coast and Togo to export 100,000 tons of rice there in March.

The government set a goal of 3 million tons of exports for 2013-14 fiscal year, a nearly 50 percent increase from the 2.1 million tons exported in 2012-13 fiscal year, according to the Minister of Commerce.

The USDA estimates Burma’s rice exports in 2013-14 will reach only 750,000 tons (consistent with USDA’s reports of 2012-13 numbers). The FAO projects that Burma’s total rice production will increase somewhat in 2014, after localized floods and insect plagues produced a below-average main season harvest in 2013.

source: DVB

Italcementi eyes Myanmar investment

Italian cement major Italcementi is studying the possibility of entering the Myanmar market in the the next few years, its chief executive has said in a recent interview.

Speaking to The Nation about Italcementi’s growth potential in the Asean region, Carlo Pesenti said: “We are negotiating with a local partner in Myanmar and also studying the country’s Foreign Investment [Law],” he said.

Italcementi is already active in Southeast Asia through its Jalaprathan Cement and Asia Cement operations in Thailand. Last year, the country proved to be a particular bright spot for Italcementi as Thai turnover rose by 18.1 per cent to EUR269.2m and the EBITDA moved ahead by 58.8 per cent to EUR51.5m. Domestic cement shipments advanced by 13.8 per cent as an additional kiln was brought back on-stream.

source: Cemnet

Singapore-Listed Yoma Expands Into Coffee in Burma

SINGAPORE — Singapore-listed Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd plans to set up what it says could become the biggest coffee plantation in Burma, hoping the frontier economy has the potential to develop a strong coffee industry.

The Burma-focused property conglomerate, led by chairman Serge Pun, said on Tuesday it has signed a deal to set up a joint venture to establish a coffee business with ED&F Man, a global agricultural trader.

Yoma will hold an 85 percent stake in the venture, which is expected to require up to US$20 million of investment over four years. Its target will be to plant 3,700 acres of coffee.

“We think this will probably become the biggest coffee plantation in the country, and could start a new trend of coffee from Myanmar,” Andrew Rickards, Yoma’s chief executive officer said at a briefing in Singapore with analysts and reporters. “The main thrust of this is likely to be exports.”

Burma is geographically well situated to become a coffee producer, though its coffee industry is in its early days and fragmented, with a number of small plantations.

In 2012, it produced about 8,000 tons of coffee beans on 12,000 hectares (29,652 acres) of land, according to estimates of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. In 2011, the country exported under 100 tons of coffee.

By comparison, Vietnam, the world’s top producer of the strong-flavored robusta beans, churned out nearly 1.3 million tons of coffee in 2012, exporting most of that. Rickards declined to give details on the plantation’s production target, but said a yield of one ton per acre per year would be a reference for early years of the plantation.

The plan is part of Yoma’s efforts to become a more diversified company. It also announced it had signed an agreement with the Burma government to set up a dairy plant to supply milk to schoolchildren, as well as a cold storage and logistics business with Japan’s Kokubu & Co Ltd.

Yoma garnered over 90 percent of its income from property business in Burma in 2013, and would like to see the contribution from non-property businesses to rise to at least 50 percent, company chairman Pun said.

In addition to property, it also owns a car service business, Burma’s first department store and a hot air balloon tour operator. Yoma shares rose more than 1 percent to a five-week high of S$0.72 on Tuesday.

source: The Irrawaddy