Famous Lampi (Lambi) Kyun Tan Shae tender for EcoTourism development.

Mergui Archipelago News : 17. June. Four identified as potential developer for Lampi Island Ecotourism Resort developers according to Ministry of Forestry, Myanmar.

The 4000-acre Wa-Ale island or Blunt Island is at the north western tip of Lampi island and it falls in the area of Marine National Park.

The areas assigned for the Ecotourism resort is a bit far from fresh water sources and it will take at least 10 hours by boat from Kawthaung – the nearest immigration check point for tourist entry from Thailand. The accessibility to the islands of Mergui Archipelago has been getting harder in the last year when an official who is very efficient was removed due to a case of Thai national found with bullets at Yangon Airport. Many government departments in Kawthaung can not coordinate the documentation of tourist boats. “We had to wait 6 hours to clear from the port of Victoria Point” said a skipper referring to the town in its old name. The number of tourist arrival dwindle from a mere 2000 per year to 1800 per year. However land grabbing is on the rise and almost all beautiful islands near Lampi are all taken. Those who have tried to get a piece of land on most beautiful islands like Great Swington are asked to find another island elsewhere. Of the 800 islands in the Mergui Archipelago, about 25 islands are fit for resort but the developer must adhere to strict rules. The islands has almost no inhabitant and they are natural flora and fauna are well preserved except fishing. Therefore it is very important that responsible developer who understands the Environment Impacts and Social Impacts of a tourism development takes responsible measures not to disturb the existing state.

According to 7Day Daily there were 22 applicants who purchased tenderdoucments but only 4 actually applied and the highest bidder for the time being is Amata. Only one successful applicant will have the permit to start ecolodge-type bunglows with primary objective to survey the Lampi National Park.

Burma Still to Sign Visa-Free Travel Deals With Four Asean Countries

Burma Still to Sign Visa-Free Travel Deals With Four Asean Countries

Visa-free travel into Burma for all citizens of Asean, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, should be implemented by the end of this year, the country’s tourism industry chief said.

Burma has already signed visa-free agreements with five of the 10 Asean members, but negotiations have still to be finalized with four other countries, including neighbor Thailand, said tourism federation secretary-general Kyi Thein Ko.

Burma is current chairman of Asean and the aim is to achieve visa-free travel across the 10 member countries by the time Naypyidaw hands over the chairmanship in January, he told regional travel trade publication TTR Weekly.

Next year is also supposed to herald the beginning of the Asean Economic Community, a European Union-style open trading market.

Burma has signed visa-free agreements with Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam Philippines and Brunei, but has still to sign with Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, TTR Weekly said.

The political disruption in Bangkok, the ousting of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the subsequent military coup has disrupted an agreement with Thailand, said Kyi Thein Ko.

“We understand Thailand agreed to visa-free facilitation at international airports, but not overland checkpoints, which was part of the proposal from our side,” he was quoted by TTR Weekly as saying at a tourism conference.

Bangkok has still not resolved the issue of work visa renewals for hundreds of thousands of Burmese migrant workers who cross the land
border in Thailand.

GAP INC. ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH USAID TO SUPPORT WOMEN IN BURMA

As first American retailer in Burma, Gap Inc. invests in women’s advancement program

[Rangoon, Burma] – [June 7, 2014] – Today at a signing ceremony attended by U.S. Ambassador to Burma, Derek J. Mitchell, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)/Burma Mission Director, Chris Milligan, Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) announced that the company is partnering with USAID to invest in the social and economic growth of Burma. By producing its products from two factories in Rangoon, Gap Inc. becomes the first American retailer to enter the Burma market. The company’s partnership with USAID will help lay the foundation for Gap Inc. to provide growth and economic opportunities for women in the country.

The garment industry stands poised to become a significant source of jobs, exports and opportunity for the people of Burma. Similar to its entry into other new markets over the past few decades, Gap Inc. is applying industry-leading best practices, which include audits by a well-respected non-governmental organization, to ensure that internationally recognized human rights and labor standards are upheld in the factories from which the company is sourcing.

As part of this commitment, Gap Inc. will partner with CARE International in Burma to deliver its award-winning women’s advancement program, P.A.C.E. (Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement), in the factories in which it does business by the end of this year, and in select communities where CARE is involved. Started in 2007, P.A.C.E. aims to promote the advancement of female garment workers by providing life skills education and technical training to help them become more successful both personally and professionally.

Through its partnership with USAID, Gap Inc. will work with Indiana University and Hewlett-Packard (HP) to further expand the P.A.C.E. Community Program. By leveraging their shared knowledge and expertise, the partnership will recruit and engage participants in HP LIFE Centers in multiple communities throughout the country.

“USAID is pleased to partner with Gap Inc., one of America’s leading corporations, to improve the economic well-being of the people of Burma. Through partnerships, such as this one today, we are working together to ensure that communities benefit from an economy reentering the international marketplace. Through this effort and other initiatives,we are encouraging responsible investment to improve the welfare of all people of this country,” said Chris Milligan, USAID/Burma Mission Director.

These efforts are consistent with Gap Inc.’s efforts to improve working conditions and build local capacity in garment factories around the world.

“This is a historic moment for Burma and we are committed to working with the U.S. government and local government alongside local and international NGOs, to help create the economic opportunities that the citizens of Burma so richly deserve. By entering Burma, we hope to help accelerate economic and social growth in the country, and build on our track record of improving working conditions and building local capacity in garment factories around the world,” said Wilma Wallace, Vice President, Global Responsibility, Business and Human Rights, Gap Inc.

Gap Inc.’s decision to source garments from Burma was taken after a rigorous due diligence process which saw the company engaging extensively with US government officials, industry and union representatives and international and local NGOs in Burma in order to better understand the opportunities and challenges of doing business in the country.

As part of the company’s commitment to transparency, Gap Inc. will voluntarily disclose and publish information about its practices in Burma consistent with the United States Government’s reporting procedures. Gap Inc.’s vendors in Burma will be bound by the company’s Code of Vendor Conduct.

Gap Inc. clothing made in Burma will be available in stores this summer.

About Gap Inc.

Gap Inc. is a leading global retailer offering clothing, accessories, and personal care products for men, women, and children under the Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, Athleta, and Intermix brands. Fiscal year 2013 net sales were $16.1 billion. Gap Inc. products are available for purchase in more than 90 countries worldwide through about 3,100 company-operated stores, over 350 franchise stores, and e-commerce sites. For more information, please visit www.gapinc.com.

About P.A.C.E.

Launched in 2007, Gap Inc.’s P.A.C.E. program creates opportunities for women to advance in their careers and personal lives. The garment industry is one of the world’s largest employers of low-skilled women workers. Despite their large numbers in the workforce, relatively few female garment workers advance to management positions, as many do not have access to the education and training that will propel their professional advancement. Research shows that P.A.C.E. graduates have lower rates of absenteeism, advance faster in the workplace and are more productive than factory workers who do not participate in the program. Not only do the women participating benefit from the program, but the factories also benefit by developing a more skilled and reliable workforce.

P.A.C.E. was designed and developed in partnership with Swasti Health Resources and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). CARE International is a key implementing partner. To date, more than 25,000 female garment workers have participated in the program in 7 countries.

For more information on Gap Inc.’s P.A.C.E. program and other community investments, please visitwww.gapinc.com/socialresponsibility.

Download hi res images of our P.A.C.E. participants from around the world.

About USAID

USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential.

source: The Wall Street Transcript

US aims to boost investment in Burma

Spending two days in Burma as a part of a commercial diplomacy tour in Southeast Asia, US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker inaugurated a commercial service office at the US embassy in Rangoon on Friday.

Commercial service offices, as explained to DVB by Andrew Leahy of the US embassy, serve as “an advocate and liaison for US businesses attempting to invest in a particular country,” and work “directly with US businesses interested in learning more about a country or navigating the country’s economic environment.”

Pritzker’s regional tour was touted by the US Department of Commerce as one intended to elaborate on the economic dimension of President Obama’s pivot to Asia, with time spent in Burma intended to encourage the “building of soft and hard infrastructure necessary to support the growth of emerging partners.”

Her three-legged tour also included the Philippines and Vietnam.

Burma’s emergence as a US trade partner is distinguished most clearly by a jump in US exports to the once pariah state, which, according to the US embassy, ran from US$9.8 million in 2010 to $145 million in 2013. On top of this, as of 30 April 2014, US companies have plans to invest $243.6 million in the Burmese economy.

While that figure of American foreign direct investment (FDI) in Burma is dwarfed in comparison to the latest available US FDI figures for the Philippines, $4.6 billion, and Vietnam, $1.2 billion, the reaction by US firms to the 2012 removal of the majority of US economic sanctions has been swift.

On Thursday, Pritzker met Burmese President Thein Sein in Naypyidaw, as well as Vice President Nyan Tun and Shwe Mann, speaker of the Lower House.

To each she reportedly stressed the need for the Burmese government to “build on the progress that has been made by implementing measures that increase inclusive economic development, promote government transparency and accountability, and safeguard labour rights and human rights.”

That progress was evaluated last month and resulted in President Obama renewing the US classification of the situation in Burma as a “National Emergency.” With that motion, the limited economic sanctions that bind US businesses investing in Burma were renewed. Those sanctions, according to US Ambassador to Burma Derek Mitchell, primarily affect “individuals and entities that materially benefited from their close ties to the former regime and who are still impeding reform in this country, the so-called ‘specially designated nationals’.”

One such blacklisted entity, military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings (UMEH), is set to neighbour American company Ball Corporation at Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ), currently under construction 20 kilometers south of Rangoon.

Ball Corporation will benefit from minimal government red tape and relaxed labour laws that characterise the SEZ, as will UMEH, a company already exempt from commercial and profit taxes. UMEH will continue to develop infrastructure plots at the zone, which includes heavy manufacturing and port facilities.

On Friday, representatives from Ball Company, as well as APR energy, who are constructing a large-scale thermal power plant in Burma, joined Priztler as she affirmed, “When our businesses make investments, they bring with them the highest standards, including a commitment to corporate and social responsibility.”

That comment came a day after Washington-based lobby group US Campaign for Burma (USCB) released what it called a “report card”, grading the six US companies that have each invested over $500,000 in Burma. Those companies were adjudged on levels of transparency, procedural behaviour, risk mitigation and social responsibility. USCB was only able to classify one of the companies, Coca-Cola, as a “responsible” investor, whereas two firms were designated as “questionable” and three as “irresponsible”.

One such “irresponsible” US company, Capital Group Companies Inc, was singled out for their relationship with Burmese concern Yoma Strategic Holdings. USCB links Yoma to “human rights abuses, including environmental destruction, forced displacement, land confiscation, political detentions, and labor abuses.” USCB also noted that Yoma was reviewed by the US Treasury for potential inclusion on their blacklist, for links to the previous military regime.

Yet Yoma have never featured on the list, and their CEO, Serge Pun is frequently referred to in the international media as “Mr Clean”. That title comes despite his flagship enterprise Yoma Bank not appearing on the list of 100 top Burmese corporate taxpayers list for 2011-12 nor the top 500 list for 2012-13.

That Serge Pun has been able to run a multitude of successful businesses in Burma under successive military regimes and the current quasi-civilian government has raised the suspicions of lobby groups such as USCB. Last month, USCB called for the International Finance Corporation to pull out of a development deal with Yoma.

The US embassy included Yoma in 2008 as a player in the Burmese government “system of economic patronage” which insures that “certain companies, often owned by regime cronies, receive key contracts and profitable business opportunities in exchange for their support for the regime.”

Yet Yoma, nor any company that Pun has been involved in, have ever been hit with sanctions, leaving Pun with a reputation as a professional and esteemed business leader in a national business environment which clearly fosters corruption.

Last week, Andrew Rickards, CEO of Yoma Strategic Holdings, told DVB that USCB’s allegations are “without substance” and that Yoma, “rejects the validity of these [USCB] calls.”

“If anything,” Rickards asserted, “Mr Pun should be congratulated.”

While pessimistic about the current performance of US private sector investment in Burma, USCB maintains that “Responsible US investment has the potential to further the US policy goal to support ‘the establishment of a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic state that respects human rights and the rule of law.’”

The rights watchdog will hope to be able to grade garment manufacturers Gap Inc with a pass mark on their next report. The fashion brand has recently announced the intention to open two factories in Burma and in doing so has indicated a commitment to corporate social responsibility.

source: DVB

Govt inspects tax liabilities of tax-evading cronies

The government is checking the actual tax liabilities of the business corporations which did not include in the top tax payers list, including Shwe Than Lwin (Sky Net), Dagon International and Asia World, according to the Deputy Information Minister-cum- president spokesperson Ye Htut.

The Weekly Eleven has printed the news “Govt needs to clarify obvious protection of tax-evading companies” on 1st June.

The news says that some of the top companies such as Kanbawza, Eden, Max Myanmar, Ayeyar Hinthar, Htoo, Ayeyar Shwe War, Red Link, Myanmar CP, and CB Bank are paying tax more and more yearly. Even companies closely related with the president like Shwe Taung and the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (UMEHL) paid tax. However, large corporations – to precise – Shwe Than Lwin (Sky Net), Dagon International, Asia World and other top construction groups did not involve in the top tax payers list. Therefore, the government should scrutinize the tax liability of such corporations.

The Deputy Information Minister Ye Htut responded the news on June 5.

Ye Htut said “The government is trying to fix the taxation system in order to increase the state revenue and the high-ranked companies to pay their actual liability. The government is giving certificate of honour to the top tax payers. The Board for Scrutinizing and Monitoring of Tax Collection has already been organized. The board is carrying out to collect the tax in advance, and setting the actual tax liability of those companies [Shwe Than Lwin, Asia World, Dagon Int’l and construction groups]. However, tax revenue will be different from each corporations based on the capital investment, profit generation and tax relief. We can’t say a company is tax evading for its payment is low. If you want to know the tax payment of such organisations, you should ask the revenue department.”

Thura Thaung Tin, the chairman of the Board for Scrutinizing and Monitoring of Tax Collection said that the board is currently inspecting the tax payers list for each sector like energy or construction. Once the company is found out the tax evasion, it has to pay the tax liability for three years.

The news in Weekly Eleven revealed that Shwe Than Lwin (Sky Net) has to pay at least US$ 500,000 taxes, with 5 percent taxing, based on selling 500,000 Sky Net signal receivers with US$ 20 to subscribers, which generate the station’s revenues of US$ 10 million.

Plus, the station should be paying more than Ks 10 billion annual taxes when accumulating on daily advertising income which could be Ks 40 million a day or Ks 14.6 billion for a year averagely and monthly service fee which is Ks 10,000 per subscribers when calculating on 500,000 subscribers that would be Ks 60 billion.

It is obvious that scrutiny should be applied why Shwe Than Lwin did not list in the top tax payers for FS 2012-13. It shall be scrutinized all twenty business units under Shwe Than Lwin did not include in the top tax payers list.

Regarding with the Asia World and its related businesses, the news printed that it shall be verified that the amount of tax paying by Asia World which involves in Myitsone Dam Project, its sister company which has permission for Thoutyaykhat (2) Project and its collecting Ks 4 billion toll fees.

Regarding with the Dagon International, the Weekly Eleven printed that the Dagon International is taking the Chair of the biggest business organisation in Myanmar, also exporting the large tons of logs yearly. The government should scrutinize whether the Dagon International is abusing the taxation law or the business is showing loss.

The trading tax has to be paid no matter what the business is profiting or losing. The state’s actual revenue will be gained by inspecting and monitoring such corporations’ tax payments.

source: Eleven Myanmar

Chinese Actor Meets Myanmar Fans in Yangon

Chinese actor Zhang Jinlai, famous for his role as the “Monkey King” in ’80s Chinese television series “Journey to the West”, recently met with Myanmar fans in Yangon, after his arrival in the former capital city on a visit to Myanmar at the invitation of the Myanmar-China Friendship Association.

Zhang Jinlai, also known by his stage name Liu Xiao Ling Tong (literally: “Little Six Year Old Child”), said: “I came here not only for meeting with Myanmar fans but also for further enhancing Paukphaw (fraternal) friendship between our two peoples.”

Zhang donated K1 million ($1,040) to Su Taung Pyae National Race Youth Development Charity School, home of more than 1,700 students, most of whom orphans or from poor families across the country. The gathering was sponsored by ASEAN-China Center, the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar and the Myanmar-China Friendship Association. Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar Yang Houlan, Secretary-General of ASEAN-China Center Ma Mingqiang and Chairman of Myanmar-China Friendship Association U Sein Win Aung were also present.

The visit of Zhang falls on China-ASEAN culture exchange year and plays a major role in culture exchange between Myanmar and China, said Ma.

Zhang later visited the new capital Nay Pyi Taw and the second largest city Mandalay. Zhang’s Myanmar visit is the second of a Chinese actor after Hollywood star Jackie Chan visited Myanmar on a UNICEF program in 2012.

Zhang portrayed the Monkey King (Sun Wukong) in the 1986 television series Journey to the West, which was adapted from the classic novel of the same title.

Source from Myanmar First Bilingual Business Journal Jun 5-11,2014

Second Israeli Film Festival in Myanmar This Month

The Israeli Embassy in Yangon is going to launch  the “Second Israeli Film Festival 2014” this month. The festival will take place at Junction Cineplex in Myanmar’s capita Nay Pyi Taw from June 5 to 6, and al Myoma Cinema in Myanmar’s second largest city Mandalay from June 6 to 7.

The films to be screened at the second edition of the festival, which is a part of the framework of the cultural cooperation between Israel and Myanmar, revolve around community life, relationship and love, career and action.

“[The films] will give not only give a glimpse of the Israeli film industry but will also allow the Myanmar audience to see the Israeli daily life routine, the dilemmas and the diversity that the Israeli society is confronting,” the Israeli Embassy in Yangon said in a statement. The first Israel Film Festival was held in Yangon last November.

The opening film — “Something Sweet” — is a romantic drama taking place in an Israeli village, in the early 2000S. In the centre of the story stands Tamar, the eldest of three sisters, who gave up on her life dream to go back home and support her parents. The story starts with the middle sister’s wedding; then the youngest announces she is also engaged and presents her fiance to the family for the first time. This puts a lot of pressure Tamar, who is in a stable but not exciting relationship, and things get complicated when she falls in love with someone new.

“By Summer’s End” is set up in a small Israeli village, in the summer of 1978, one month prior to the Camp David peace accord. What troubles Michal is that her 7-year-old daughter, Maya, cannot read or write, and that her teacher wants to hold her back a year. Michal rises to the occasion and vows that by the end of the summer, Maya will learn how to read and write and will move on to the next grade. But this summer is set to be full of surprises for the family. Michal’s father, who’s been missing for 20 years, suddenly returns, and brings with him the family’s dark past and hidden secrets that have been dutifully repressed. The film won awards in the Rehovot Women’s international Film Festival 2011, and Israeli Film Centre in New York and Haifa International Film Festival 2011.

“Desperado Square” illustrates a romantic drama and awarded by the Israeli Film Academy for best director and best supporting actor. In an old neighbourhood, stuck in the past, the first anniversary of Morris Mandabon’s death is approaching, and his youngest son, Nissim has a dream. In the dream his father orders him to reopen the old neighbourhood movie theatre thus breaking the vow Morris had made years ago never to screen movies again.

“Operation Thunderbolt” is a film based on the true story of Air France flight 139 from Tel Aviv to Paris, via Athens, that was hijacked by four terrorists. After lending in Entebbe, Uganda, the Jewish passengers were separated and held hostage in demand to release many terrorists held in Israeli prisons. After much debate, the Israeli government sent an elite commando unit, to raid the airfield and release the hostages.

Source from Myanmar First Bilingual Business Journal Jun 5-11,2014

Microsoft Shows Off Real-Time Skype Translator

Microsoft Corp showed off a test version of a real-time, spoken-word translation service for Skype calls last week, the first time the world’s largest software company has demonstrated the breakthrough technology publicly in the United States.

Skype Translator, as it is currently called, allows speakers in different languages to hear the other’s words spoken in their own language, according to a demo introduced by Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella at the Code Conference technology gathering in California.

“It is going to make sure you can communicate with anybody without language barriers,” said Nadella, who took over as Microsoft CEO in February and is keen to re-establish the company as a technology leader after a decade of slipping behind Apple Inc and Google Inc in mobile computing.

Nadella described the underlying technology as “magical,” but said the task now was turn it into a real product rather than just a research project, promising it would launch by the end of the year. He did not say if it would be a free add-on for Skype users or a paid extra. Immediate reaction to the demo, featuring an English-speaking Microsoft executive chatting with a German counterpart, was mixed. One German-speaking audience member said the translation was good enough for vacation, but not for business.

The new technology, which Microsoft demoed in a rougher form 18 months ago in China, could represent a significant feature for its Skype online chat service, which boasts hundreds of millions of users. It is an advance on Microsoft’s current translation features that only work with written words on its Bing search engine and Internet Explorer browser.

Microsoft has been working hard on speech recognition technology for years. Earlier this year it showed off Cortana, its voice-activated “personal assistant” designed to rival Apple’s Siri.

Source from Myanmar First Bilingual Business Journal Jun 5-11,2014

LG Electronics Launches Revamped G3 Smartphone

South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc launched a revamped version of its flagship G3 high-end smartphone at a discount to its predecessor model last week and said it would ship more than 10 million units to improve its ailing handset business.

LG hopes the new G3 phone, which added metal film to the rear plastic cover to offer a polished metallic look, will pull its handset business out of the red and provide meaningful earnings momentum in the coming quarter.

The new device has a 5.5-inch screen with almost twice the resolution of its G2 predecessor with 538 pixels per inch (ppi). The resolution is also better than the 431 ppi screen on Samsung Electronics Co’s Galaxy S5 431. The new LG phone also features a laser focus for the camera.

The G3’s launch price of 899,800 Korean won ($880) is about 6 percent lower than the G2 in South Korea, highlighting the intensifying competition on both price and features among smartphone makers as market growth slows.

“Broadly speaking, business conditions should be better in the second quarter than the first quarter,” Park Jong-seok, chief executive of LG’s mobile business, told reporters during a briefing, citing the global launch of the G3 as a major factor.

Park declined to offer concrete earnings guidance and did not specify a timeframe on the shipment target for the G3, which will be rolled out worldwide to more than 170 carriers.

While LG did not disclose shipment figures for the G2, industry officials estimate that more than 5 million units of the device have shipped since its launch in August 2013.

LG brought forward the launch of the G3 to May amid market speculation that Apple Inc could reveal its next iPhone in August.

LG’s mobile division reported an operating loss of 9 billion won ($8.80 million) in the January-March quarter due to competition from Chinese rivals like Huawei Technologies and Lenovo Group.

Source from Myanmar First Bilingual Business Journal Jun 5-11,2014

Intel Readies 3D-Printed Robots for Handy Consumers

Intel Corp introduced a walking, talking robot last week made from 3D-printed parts that will be available to consumers later this year, if they are willing to assemble it with a kit that costs around $1,600.

The company’s Chief Executive Brian Krzanich was accompanied by “Jimmy” on stage at the Code Conference in California. The white 2-foot tall robot shuffled onto the stage, introduced itself and then waved its arms.

Intel describes Jimmy as a research robot, but the company intends to make 3D-printable plans available without charge for a slightly less advanced version, and partners will sell components that cannot be 3D- printed, such as motors and an Intel Edison processor, in kits. Jimmy can be programmed to sing, translate languages, send tweets and even serve a cold beer.

Source from Myanmar First Bilingual Business Journal Jun 5-11,2014

Italian Firm to Deploy $51-m Myanmar Mobile Backhaul Network

Italian wireless communications solutions provider, SIAE MICROLETTRONICA, said it was hired to provide its microwave radio solutions for by a telecoms firm operating in Myanmar for the latter’s network rollout.

Without specifying the name of the operator, the Milan-based firm said in a statement, “A leading global mobile operator is using SIAE MICROELETTRONICA microwave radio solution for building a state-of-the-art mobile wireless backhaul for a network offering HSPA and LTE services in Myanmar.”

In January, one of the two telecoms licence winner, Telenor, said it will invest $1 billion in Myanmar to set up mobile network using HSPA and LTE-ready technologies. The Norwegian firm said it plans to provide network coverage for go percent of the population in Myanmar within five years.

The greenfield backhaul network will mainly relay over full outdoor microwave radios, the firm said. The whole backhaul network comprises of two regions worth over $51 million and will be completed over a five years deployment period, SIRE added.

The firm said it will supply its ALFOplus Series packet microwave full outdoor solution to build backhaul network. Backhaul generally refers to the side of the network that communicates with the global Internet, paid for at wholesale commercial access rates to or at an Ethernet Exchange or other core network access location.

“This network consolidates our presence in the Asia Pacific region where we are steadily growing in several mobile networks,” Stefano Ferraresi, key sales account Myanmar, said.

“In this dynamic market our solution are highly valued thanks to the product long life span and best market power consumption performances,” he added.

SIRE MICROELETTRONICA, founded by Edoardo Mascetti as Societa Italiana Apparecchiature Elettroniche (Italian Company for Electronic Equipment) in 1952, is present in over 28 countries and offers operators technological solution for microwave and millimetre wave transport, services and design.

Source from Myanmar First Bilingual Business Journal Jun 5-11,2014

Yoma Boosts Myanamr Telco Tower Stake to 25pc

Singapore-based conglomerate Yoma Strategic Holdings (YSH) said it has ramped up its stake in its Myanmar telecoms tower venture firm from 8 percent to 25 percent.

YSH Finance Ltd, a subsidiary of Yoma, will now hold a quarter stake in Digicel Asian Holdings Pte Ltd while the rest will be held by Digicel Group – a telecoms firm that operates in 31 markets in the Caribbean, Central America and Asia Pacific and is backed by Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien.

YSH Finance Ltd is 80 percent owned by Yoma Strategic and 20 percent by First Myanmar Investment Co Ltd (FMI), an affiliate of Yoma Strategic.

YSH Finance had subscribed for an additional 420,000 new shares – representing 17 percent interest – in Digicel Asian Holdings for $427,333. This was funded in cash from Yo-ma’s placement proceeds raised in November 2012.

Yoma said it would benefit from partnering Digicel Group, given the latter’s experience and investment in the telco tower company business.

The telco tower firm said it intends to roll out telecommunications towers across Myanmar as the country seeks to rapidly increase mobile phone penetration following the award of two mobile telecommunications licences to international telecommunications operators.

Digicel Asian Holdings announced in December last year that it had been awarded a contract to provide telecommunications towers to Ooredoo Myanmar, one of the two international telecoms operators in Myanmar.

It is intended that these telecommunications towers will also be made available to other operators,” Yoma said in a statement.

Mobile subscriptions in Myanmar are projected to increase strongly within the next few years, from 1.3 million in 2014 to an estimated 30 million in 2015.

This significant growth in mobile users is expected to drive 20 percent of all foreign direct investment to the Myanmar telecommunications industry, an industry with an estimated $1 billion in FDI in 2014, and is on track to be the FDI leader in 2015.

Yoma Strategic posted a 44.9 percent drop in net profit to shareholders to $5.1 million for its fourth quarter ended March 31, 2014, down from $9.16 million a year ago.

Source from Myanmar First Bilingual Business Journal Jun 5-11,2014

Google BuildingSelf-Driving Cars with No Driver Seat, Steering Wheeling

Google Inc is building cars that don’t have steering wheels, accelerator pedals or brake pedals, in an ambitious expansion of the internet company’s efforts to develop self-driving cars.

The small electric cars, which seat two passengers, are currently prototypes that Google has been building through partnerships with automotive suppliers and manufacturers, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said at the Code conference in Southern California.

Google aims to build up to 200 such cars in the near term and hopes the vehicles will be available in various cities within a couple of years, he said.

Google has been testing self-driving cars since 2009, incorporating laser sensors and radars into standard automobiles such as the Prius from Toyota Motor Corp and sport-utility vehicles from Toyota luxury car division Lexus.

While those vehicles require a human to remain in the driver’s seat and to take over in certain situations, the new cars operate completely autonomously.

Brin said the cars could operate as a service, picking up passengers when summoned, and potentially even operate as fleets of interconnected “trains”.

“Ten seconds after getting in I was doing my email, I had forgotten I was there,” Brin said of his experience riding in one of the pod-like vehicles, which resemble a cross between a Smart car and Volkswagen Beetle. “It ultimately reminded me of catching a chairlift.”

Brin declined to specify whether Google intended to build and sell the cars itself, saying only that the company would “work with partners”.

The driverless cars are currently limited to a maximum speed of 25 miles (40 km) an hour, but Brin said there was no reason the cars could not go as fast as 100 miles an hour or more once they had been proven to be safe.

The front of the cars contains about 2 feet (61 cm) of foam and the windshield is made out of plastic instead of glass to make the cars safer, he said.

“Within a couple of years I hope we will surpass the safety metrics we’ve put in place, which is to be significantly safer than a human driver, and we will start testing them without drivers and hopefully you’ll be able to utilise them at some limited cities,” Brin said. A handful of US states, including California and Nevada, have passed legislation to allow testing of self-driving cars on public roads. Brin said he was optimistic that the new, passenger-only self-driving cars would be approved for testing in the US and overseas in the future.

Source from Myanmar First Bilingual Business Journal Jun 5-11,2014

Car Battery Maker LG Chem to Decide on Capacity Expansion in 3 Months

South Korea’s LG Chem Ltd plans to make a decision on expanding production capacity for electric vehicle (EV) batteries in three to four months, expecting EV demand to take off in 2016.

“We are seriously considering investing in expanding (our EV battery production),” President Kwon Young-soo, who oversees LG Chem’s battery division, said on Thursday at the Busan Motor Show.

He did not elaborate on where it plans to expand capacity. LG Chem, which supplies batteries for cars from General Motors Co and Renault SA, has one EV battery plant in Korea and another in the United States.

In February, Chief Executive Park Jin-soo said the company was considering building an EV battery plant in China, expecting the Chinese government’s efforts to tackle air pollution would drive demand.

Source from Myanmar First Bilingual Business Journal Jun 5-11,2014

GM Engineer Said He Forget Change to Switch in Recalled Cars

A suspended General Motors Co engineer who worked on the defective ignition switch at the heart of a massive recall told congressional investigators that he had forgotten ordering a change to the switch, when he testified in a deposition last year, the New York Times reported.

GM engineer Ray DeGiorgio did not say anything to the congressional investigators to suggest that Chief Executive Mary Barra knew about the defective switch before she took the top job at the company this year, the Times said, quoting people familiar with the session.

DeGiorgio, who was suspended by GM on April lo, designed the switch for the 2003 Saturn Ion and other models, including the Chevrolet Cobalt, which have been recalled. GM has linked 13 deaths to accidents related to the switch.

The defective switch was redesigned in 2006 without a change to the part number, which later confused investigators looking into crashes of the now-recalled cars. Congressional investigators produced an internal GM document showing DeGiorgio had signed off on the change in April 2006.

In a deposition last year for a lawsuit related to a fatal 2010 crash in Georgia, DeGiorgio denied that he knew of the change. The New York Times reported that he told congressional investigators recently that at the time of the deposition, he had forgotten about the change, because it was part of a package of changes.

Source from Myanmar First Bilingual Business Journal Jun 5-11,2014

Chinese-made Spare Parts Rule Auto Market

Cheap Chinese-made spare parts for Japanese automobiles have flooded Yangon’s auto market, beating out their pricier yet genuine counterparts, industry sources say.

The price gap between Chinese-made and Japanese-made spare parts could be tenfold, sometimes as high as 100 times, spare parts shop owners at Yangon’s Bayintnaung car market told Myanmar Business Today.

“A new Japanese-made engine oil filter is K30,000-50,000 ($3152) but a Chinese one is K3,000- 5,000,” a spare parts shop owner at Bayintnaung said.

“The users usually opt for the cheaper one.”

Following the relaxation of import regulations three years ago and slash in custom taxes and duties, Japanese automobiles flooded Yangon’s roads. As many as 250,000 cars came into the country since mid-2011, according Road Transport Authority’s statistics.

Some businessmen still import Japanese-made accessories but customers prefer cheaper Chinese-made parts. “Most of the Japanese spare parts in the market are old as imports have slowed down,” another shop owner said.

However, traders say Japanese spare parts imports will eventually pick up as there will be a big gap to fill in terms of supply and demand amid an increasing number of Japanese car imports. “Currently, there’s little import [of Japanese parts] but the market will soon have a big demand. Also, using cheap spare parts and body accessories is bad for a car, and cars become prone to more accidents if the owners use substandard parts,” an automobile engineer said.

Drivers using Chinese-made car spare parts often face car malfunction and accidents, a spokesperson from Eaitsarthaya Automobile spare parts shop said.

Besides Chinese-made auto spare parts, accessories from Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and India are also common, automobile market sources say.

Authorities also advise using genuine automobile parts to increase road safety. Vehicles from Aung Mingalar Highway Express station are currently being checked for authentic spare parts by concerned officers, a source from Aung Mingalar Highway Vehicle Control Department said.

Source from Myanmar First Bilingual Business Journal Jun 5-11,2014

Mercedes Allows Chinese to Peek Under Hood in Asia Growth Push

Battling to catch up with German rivals in China, luxury carmaker Daimler is shifting gears, giving local authorities unprecedented access to new Mercedes models and even tailoring engines destined for its home market to Chinese regulations.

For years, Daimler has lagged Audi and BMW in the world’s biggest car market. Last year, Mercedes-Benz, the company’s premier luxury brand, sold 228,000 cars there, compared to nearly 492,000 for Audi and over 362,000 for BMW.

For years, Daimler harboured doubts over the sustainability of growth in China. German labour union resistance to shifting production out of Daimler’s main factory in Sindelfingen also played a role.

Another key factor has been Daimler’s more cautious approach to sharing technological know-how due to fears of piracy. This prevented the company from deepening its footprint in China, where foreign automakers are required to work with local companies, at a time when its rivals were going all-in China 2014.

Now this is changing — in part because the Chinese have taken steps to crack down on copyright violations, but also because Daimler executives have realised there is no alternative to closer cooperation if they are to make up lost ground in a market that continues to post impressive growth rates.

This year, Daimler is starting production of its newest C-Class in China as well as Germany, a step-change for a manufacturer that had previously delayed local Chinese production of new models by months.

Beijing Benz Automotive Co, the joint venture company Daimler runs with Chinese partner Beijing Automotive Group Co, is also constructing a new production line for the compact GLA model.

Tranferring know-how

To get permission to build both cars locally, they need to undergo a 160,000 kilometre emission durability test and a regulation test with Chinese authorities. These can take up to a year.

As part of this process, Mercedes is allowing Chinese officials to take samples of components and make detailed measurements of its newest cars.

“To put it bluntly, we are transferring know-how,” said Rene Reif, head of engineering and manufacturing at Beijing Benz.

Key battleground

Daimler only started making Mercedes-Benz cars in China in 2006, reaching production capacity of 120,000 vehicles last year. Audi, which has been making cars there since 1988, surpassed that level in 2007.

Asia remains the key battleground in Daimler’s fight to reclaim the crown of the top-selling maker of luxury cars in the world. The last time Mercedes held the title was in 2004.

Last year, BMW led the pack with 1.65 million units sold worldwide. Audi was next at 1.57 million and Daimler in third place, with 1.47 million Mercedes-Benz branded cars sold.

Concerns that closer cooperation might open the door to piracy by Chinese manufacturers have been mitigated by better protections, says Thomas Weber, the Daimler board member in charge of research and development.

“Innovations that are introduced late, are of no use,” said Weber.

Source from Myanmar First Bilingual Business Journal Jun 5-11,2014