Myanmar Update: Myanmar Investment Law 2016 Takes Effect

Myanmar Update | April 4, 2017
Authors: Matt Solomon and Jack Myint
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
May 16 - May 18, 2017: Mission to the ASEAN Customs Directors General Meeting

May 21 - May 26, 2017: U.S. Ambassadors' Tour
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

The Myanmar Investment Law (MIL) 2016 and its implementing rules took effect on April 1 (see our analysis of the Law here). After three rounds of public consultation (see the Council’s submission here), the finalized Rules were released on March 30 and can be accessed here.

The Rules, meant to clarify the requirements, rights, and obligations under the MIL, cover the following:

  • Definitions of terms;
  • Investments requiring permits from the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) pursuant to MIL Art. 36 (such as investments exceeding $20 million in communications, technology, transport infrastructure, energy infrastructure, urban development infrastructure, extractive/natural resources, agricultural, urban land or media sectors; certain investments in conflict-affected areas, and capital-intensive investments exceeding $100 million);
  • Prohibited and restricted investments (under MIL Arts. 41-42). The types of restricted investments (i.e. which sectors are off limits to foreign investors or require joint ventures) will be issued in a separate MIC notification. Joint ventures under MIL Art. 42(c) will require at least 20% direct interest from the Myanmar investor(s);
  • Promoted sectors, which were issued by a separate MIC notification on April 1. It can be accessed here;
  • Procedure/criteria for submission/review of investment proposals (in sectors requiring permits) and endorsement applications (if applying for land rights/tax incentives);
  • Establishment of a “one-stop service”, which will be offered through an Investor Assistance Committee to liaise with relevant departments across Union Ministries;
  • Investor responsibilities (i.e. inspections, record keeping, social and environmental assessments, etc.);
  • Mandatory insurance requirements for MIC permit holders and businesses that enjoy tax incentives;
  • Penalties.

Myanmar Companies Law Delayed

The draft Myanmar Companies Law of 2017, which was initially expected to be passed in April 2017, is being delayed by at least two months.  Subsequently, it is expected that the implementing rules associated to the law may not be finalized until September 2017. As it currently stands per the Myanmar Companies Act of 1914, foreign companies cannot own a single share in locally owned Myanmar companies.  Furthermore, foreigners also cannot buy stocks in companies listed on the Yangon Stock Exchange.  The Myanmar Companies Act is much anticipated as it will allow foreign investors to acquire up to 35% of shares in a locally owned Myanmar company.  With the emergence of the new Myanmar Companies Act in the near future, it is expected that foreign mergers and acquisitions in Myanmar will increase substantially. To access the latest draft of the Myanmar Companies Law, please click here.  To access an op-ed co-authored by Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) Secretary U Aung Naing Oo on the purpose of the new law, please click here.

Myanmar’s State-Owned Banks will be Audited for the First Time

The Myanmar Government, with support from the World Bank, is working on its first-ever comprehensive audit of state-owned banks in decades. This move comes amidst a growing political mandate to modernize and restructure Myanmar’s financial system in managing the country’s fast-paced economic growth. Myanmar’s four state-owned banks, namely the Myanma Foreign Trade Bank, Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank, Myanma Economic Bank, and Myanma Agriculture and Development Bank, collectively hold assets in the amount of approximately US$ 14 billion, a fifth of the country’s GDP. Traditionally, these state-owned banks have dominated the deposits and lending landscape, with little to no competition from the private sector. But as Myanmar opens up to the global economy, local private banks and foreign banks from countries such as Australia, New Zealand and China have won licenses to operate, growing to a total of 37 local and foreign private banks today. As a result of the growing and better-run competition, state-owned banks face a serious risk of large shortfalls in capital, as their collective assets have dropped 14%, according to World Bank data. The banks are under-capitalized and unless the government can soon come up with a plan for restructuring, it may pose a negative impact on the stability of Myanmar’s financial system as a whole. A World Bank analysis of Myanmar’s state-owned banks outlines major challenges as, “poor information-technology infrastructure, outdated accounting practices, and lack of clarity in such things as classification of assets and provisioning for bad loans”.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 
The Council's input to the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) to create a "one-stop service" within the MIC was adopted in the Myanmar Investment Rules, released on March 30. The "one-service service" will be led by a senior official from the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) to serve as a bridging point between businesses and union ministries. 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
National Affairs
Remembering Hla Myint, Myanmar’s greatest economist
Suu Kyi's party retains some support in Myanmar, loses some
Turnout, excitement low as Myanmar returns to polls
Myanmar population will reach 65m by 2050 : survey
Myanmar must avoid resource curse
Myanmar moves up to medium ranking on HDI

Market Development
Govt to Announce Foreign Investment Details
Keppel Land Opens Doors on $118.5 Mil Myanmar Office JV
Myanmar new investment law begins to take effect
Foreigner law hurting residential sector in Myanmar
Fiscal year 2017-18: a new dawn for economic policies
No foreign investment allowed in mining sector by NLD government
Transport and communication sectors reach US$3billion in foreign investment
Myanmar braces for 30% drop in foreign investment-
Myanmar receives $7 bn foreign investment in FY2016-17
NLD Govt Reviews Thein Sein-Era Foreign Investment MoUs

Customs
K2 billion worth of illegal trade seized at Yaypu checkpoint
Border Trade: MACCS to be launched in March

Defense & Security
Navy Warship Stops in Myanmar for First Time Since WWII

Economics
NLD’s one year anniversary: no systematic consultation dampens investor confidence
Myanmar Is Next Vietnam With 10% Growth: British Diplomat

Energy
Yangon braced for hot-season power cuts
Pa-O residents attack coal-fired station
Electric planners rely on increased coal output
LNG fills energy supply gap
BD, Myanmar, India considering pipeline connecting the three nations 
Hydropower projects generate more than 1,800MW | Eleven Myanmar
Rising demand set to trouble fuel subsidies

Financial Services
Myanmar's Max Looking for Financial Services, Banking Partners
SMEs in crisis due to failure to get bank loans
Myanmar: Thilawa SEZ opens for business to foreign insurers
Myanmar opens Thilawa SEZ to foreign insurers
Myanmar: Foreign insurers must have at least US$1 bln in capital funding
Top Myanmar Bank May Sell Stake to Foreign Firm, If Law Allows
Myanmar starts first audit of state-owned banks in decades

Food & Agriculture
FDA delays labelling of food products
Cambodia, Myanmar: opportunities for VN firms

Health & Life Sciences
Arrested development
A great step forward for access to healthcare in Myanmar
Myanmar Trains Midwives to Tackle Maternal Death Rate

ICT
Foreign-owned telcos turn up the heat
Towering up: Next battle looms in mobile connectivity

Infrastructure
Two-lane highway to link Thailand and Dawei SEZ
Ride-hailing firms Grab, Uber pursue growth in Myanmar
Taxi-hailing service Grab to launch in Myanmar
Uber Rival Grab Hits the Road in Myanmar

Market Regulation
The Guide to Employment Permits for Foreign Workers in Myanmar
Regions can approve up to US$5m investments Print

Thailand
Vongthep: On Thailand-Myanmar migration issues
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
National Affairs

Remembering Hla Myint, Myanmar’s greatest economist Frontier Myanmar 3rd Apr 2017
In A life spanning Myanmar’s colonial past, the country’s first experiment in democracy, the decades of military rule, and the coming again of democracy, U Hla Myint was an intellectual figure of truly global standing. An economist whose ideas formed the theoretical basis for the policies of Asia’s “tiger” economies, it is a doleful fact that for most of his life Myanmar itself so comprehensively went in other directions. In February 2012, however, Hla Myint made a triumphant return to Myanmar as the honoured guest of the Yangon Institute of Economics – a body that, although subject to countless transformations down the decades, was the direct descendent of the institution he re-created out of the wreckage of World War II.

Suu Kyi's party retains some support in Myanmar, loses some Washington Post 2nd Apr 2017
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party has retained support in its Yangon strongholds, but loyalty has weakened in ethnic minority areas that helped boost the NLD’s 2015 general election victory, according to by-election results announced Sunday. The results from Saturday’s by-elections released by the country’s election commission showed the NLD taking eight of 12 seats for the combined upper houses of the national parliament. It won only one of seven seats at stake in state assembles, where ethnic-focused parties performed strongly.

Turnout, excitement low as Myanmar returns to polls Frontier Myanmar 1st Apr 2017
As was expected in many quarters, there was a low turnout, and level of enthusiasm, as some of Myanmar’s voters returned to the polls on Saturday morning. Myanmar is holding by-elections to fill 19 seats in the Pyithu, Amyotha and State hluttaws that have been vacated since 2015 general election, which the National League for Democracy won by a landslide. Some of the most high profile seats are Ann Township in Rakhine State, where Arakan National Party leader Dr Aye Maung is vying for a seat in the Pyithu Hluttaw; Chaungzon, Mon State, the scene of a recent controversy regarding the naming of a bridge; and Kyethi and Mong Hsu townships in Shan State, where voting was cancelled in 2015 due to fighting between the Tatmadaw and the Shan State Progressive Party.

Myanmar population will reach 65m by 2050 : survey The Nation 29th Mar 2017
The survey is based on the 2014 population and household census. The estimate forecasts the population in national, urban and rural levels from 2015 to 2050 and region and state levels from 2015 to 2031. There are three levels to estimate the growth of population: low, medium and high. Myanmar had a total population of over 51.4 million on the night of March 24, 2014: 24.8 million males and 26.6 million females, announced the department. The survey said population in Yangon Region will reach about 10.5 million in 2031. According to population and household census list in 2014, more than 7.3 million people are living in the region, and it is about 14.3 per cent of the total population in Myanmar.

Myanmar must avoid resource curse The Myanmar Times 27th Mar 2017
Myanmar must find the right path to sustainable development, says Chan Mya Htwe, as the “curse” of natural resource development leads no where. It is high time that Myanmar escape from overdependence on natural resource income, analysts have said. Myanmar is rich in natural resources, so the state has to rely on resource revenue, and thus the state budget, including economic expenditures, are still resource-dependent. Oil, gas and jade are the country’s top export earners, contributing more than half of total export income, according to statistics from the Ministry of Commerce.

Myanmar moves up to medium ranking on HDI The Myanmar Times 24th Mar 2017
Myanmar has achieved a new status as a medium-ranked member of the human development index (HDI), according to a 2016 report by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) this week. Myanmar was placed at 145 out of 188 countries, with an HDI of 0.556. The index was developed in 1990 to measure how a country is performing based on three important aspects; education, life expectancy and income. UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Myanmar Renata Lok-Dessallien told reporters in a press conference on March 22 that it would take time for Myanmar to achieve higher rank in HDI index.

Market Development

Govt to Announce Foreign Investment Details The Irrawaddy 4th Apr 2017
The government will soon publicly announce details about restricted and prohibited investments by foreign firms and joint venture projects, as well as those businesses approved by the Union ministry and state projects, said U Than Aung Kyaw, deputy director general of Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA). Despite the Union Ministry of National Planning and Finance officially releasing the Burmese language version of the country’s investment by-law on the DICA website on April 1—with 25 sections and 238 articles—the business community is asking the government to release information about its preferred investments by both local and foreign companies.

Keppel Land Opens Doors on $118.5 Mil Myanmar Office JV Mingtiandi 2nd Apr 2017
Myanmar’s growing corporate community gained a new home on Friday when Junction City Tower, a $118.5 million office project invested by Singapore’s Keppel Land opened its doors for tenants in Yangon. The 23-storey grade-A office project is a joint venture between Singapore-based Keppel Land and Myanmar conglomerate Shwe Taung, with Keppel having agreed in 2014 to pay $47.4 million for a 40 percent stake in the development.

Myanmar new investment law begins to take effect Xinhua 1st Apr 2017
Myanmar's new investment law endorsed by the parliament in October 2016 began to take effect on Saturday, according to the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC). The rules and regulations of the law were also approved on Friday by the government, according to Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA). The rules and regulations comprise 238 chapters defined as land use, tax exemption, arbitration and financial transaction. The law, which was drafted in 2013 based on suggestions from experts and businessmen with the help of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), combines the Foreign Investment Law drafted in 2012 and the Citizens' Investment Law drafted in 2013.

Foreigner law hurting residential sector in Myanmar The Straits Times 24th Mar 2017
Confusion over a law allowing foreigners to buy condominiums in Myanmar is prolonging a slowdown in its residential property sector, highlighting the challenges of regulatory flux in the frontier market. The legislation adopted in January last year leaves unanswered questions, such as whether it applies to existing apartments, hurting efforts to woo investors. The outlook now depends partly on by-laws that the government is working on to clarify the legislation, according to local developer Yoma Strategic Holdings.

Fiscal year 2017-18: a new dawn for economic policies The Myanmar Times 24th Mar 2017
The new fiscal year will start on April 1, which also marks the start of new laws and economic policies for Myanmar. The new Myanmar Investment Law, which was recently passed, will come into effect on April 1 and its implementation and enactment will spell changes for the country’s businesses and investors. A developing country’s economy relies heavily on its investment sector. Likewise, revisions and updates on laws and policies are essential for a sound regulatiory framework and an efficient liberalisation for the country’s economy.

No foreign investment allowed in mining sector by NLD government Eleven 23rd Mar 2017
Secretary of Myanmar Investment Commission, Aung Naing Oo, said that the MIC did not allow foreign investment in mining sector and the mining sector is not included in the list of sectors for which foreign investment will be encouraged. “There is no foreign business which has been allowed to invest in mining. What is more, we do not receive any foreign business proposal to invest in the mining industry. There are three business proposals of Myanmar citizens we received. They are still in the scrutinizing process by the MIC. The mining industry does not have foreign investment this year,” said Aung Naing Oo. 

Transport and communication sectors reach US$3billion in foreign investment Eleven 22nd Mar 2017
The transport and communication sectors have reached more than US$3billion in foreign investment, accounting for 46 percent of total foreign investment, a source at the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration said. Until the first week of March in this year, US$3.1billion flowed from 14 foreign investments into the transport and communication sector. Myanmar has received more than US$6.8billion until March this year - and is US$800million above the target set for this year.

Myanmar braces for 30% drop in foreign investment- Nikkei Asian Review 21st Mar 2017
Foreign investment in Myanmar appears poised to plunge roughly 30% for the year ending March 31 amid the absence of new oil and gas projects, highlighting the need for the government to lure other industries with deregulation and firm economic policy plans. Myanmar received about $6 billion in foreign direct investment during the 11 months through February, an official at the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration told The Nikkei. An additional $1 billion or so is expected for March, the official said, bringing the annual total to around $7 billion for the first year-on-year drop since fiscal 2012.

Myanmar receives $7 bn foreign investment in FY2016-17 Eleven Myanmar 21st Mar 2017
MYANMAR will have received nearly US$7 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) when its current fiscal year ends on March 31, surpassing its target of $6 billion, said Aung Naing Oo, secretary of the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) and director-general of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration. “We have approved 135 foreign businesses according to the Foreign Investment Law during this fiscal year,” he said this week. “Meanwhile, we have approved FDI inflows of $262.59 million in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone, according to our SEZ Law. In total, we could approve $6.87 billion [Bt240 billion] this year.” Aung Naing Oo is confident that Myanmar will receive much more than $7 billion from FDI inflows this year, as the commission may approve more foreign businesses at its next meeting later this month.

NLD Govt Reviews Thein Sein-Era Foreign Investment MoUs The Irrawaddy 16th Mar 2017
The National League for Democracy (NLD) government is reviewing 60 out of 101 MoUs signed between the previous U Thein Sein-led government and international investors. Of 60 MoUs, four were signed with the Ministry of Transport and Communications, and 56 with the Ministry of Electricity and Energy, said deputy minister for Planning and Finance U Maung Maung Win during the Lower House session on Tuesday in response to a question from a lawmaker on the issue.

Customs

K2 billion worth of illegal trade seized at Yaypu checkpoint The Myanmar Times 4th Apr 2017
In order to crack down on illegal trading, the current government has launched the Yaypu Border Inspection Camp which seized roughly K2266 million worth of jade and timber within the first two months of its operation, according to information provided by the Camp. Major illegal products coming into Myanmar involve household products as well as food, and electrical products. Illegal products exported out of Myanmar include jade, timber, and forestry products which were primarily seized, said Yaypu Border Inspection Camp leader U Thet Tun Aung.

Border Trade: MACCS to be launched in March Eleven Myanmar 8th Mar 2017
The Myanmar Automated Cargo Clearance System (MACCS) meeting was held at the Union of Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) on March 7, is planned launch later this month according to Win Thant, the Director of Customs Department. To facilitate trade, MACCS was launched at international ports, Yangon Airport International Cargo Terminal and Thilawa Special Economic Zone operations starting on 12th November 2016. “At present, the MACCS system is being practiced in Thilawa port and Yangon areas. In March, Japanese experts and MACCS scholars will go to Myawaddy and do a survey. After the survey, we will implement the system in Myawaddy. We hope to complete the process by 2018 March at the latest,” said Win Thant, Director of Customs Department.

Defense & Security

Navy Warship Stops in Myanmar for First Time Since WWII Military.com 21st Mar 2017
A port call to Myanmar this week by the USNS Fall River marks the first time a Navy ship has visited the Southeast Asian nation since World War II. The expeditionary fast transport vessel arrived in Yangon, the country's largest city and former capital on Tuesday. Marines, sailors, soldiers and civilian crew members arrived from Sri Lanka and will be in Myanmar nearly a week before heading to Malaysia, where they will resume the annual Pacific Partnership humanitarian assistance and disaster-relief planning mission. Relations between the U.S. and Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, have warmed in recent years as the country emerges from decades of military rule.

Economics

NLD’s one year anniversary: no systematic consultation dampens investor confidence The Myanmar Times 31st Mar 2017
“Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,” wrote William Wordsworth of the terrors of the French Revolution. The sentiment was not much different a year ago in Myanmar, where many were anxious about the transition, which was less tumultuous than one might anticipate. But the new government has yet to deliver effective changes. “Generally, the pace of economic reform has been slow and below market expectations … the Myanmar government realises the importance of accelerating this, although policy changes in this regard have so far also failed to match or exceed expectations,” William Greenlee, managing director of DFDL’s Myanmar office, told the Myanmar Times.

Myanmar Is Next Vietnam With 10% Growth: British Diplomat Bloomberg 9th Mar 2017
Myanmar could be the next Vietnam or Thailand, with the economy having the potential of growing as much as 10 percent, a senior British diplomat said. The Southeast Asian nation, which is opening its economy to investors after decades of military rule, has to overcome challenges including a shortage of power supply, lack of policy clarity and high cost of doing business, Andrew Patrick, the U.K.’s Ambassador to Myanmar, said on Thursday at a Bloomberg conference in Yangon.

Energy

Yangon braced for hot-season power cuts Eleven Myanmar 13th Mar 2017
Nilar Kyaw, Yangon Region's minister of electricity, industry, roads and communications, says the city is expected to suffer regular blackouts during the hot season. Some townships in Yangon are reporting regular power outages. “In Thingangyun Township, there was a power outage last night. It lasted about one hour,” said a resident. Kyaw Win, union minister of planning and finance, told the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry that electricity demand would peak during the hot season. Yangon’s chief minister Phyo Min Thein recently said there were many foreign and domestic investors interested in the electricity market but they were put off by the subsidised prices. Nilar Kyaw said: "Subsidies mean returns from the electricity supply do not cover the production costs. The government had to spend Ks470 billion for electricity supplies and production costs. Economic development is difficult without electricity. But under these circumstances, the more electricity we produce, the more we will be loss-making." She added that the government was expected to make an estimated loss of Ks900 billion if it met the region’s electricity demand in 2017-18. Yangon Region used 1,250 megawatts of power last fiscal year, according to Yangon Electricity Supply Corporation. The region accounts for up to 50 per cent of the country’s power consumption. The ownership ratio between the government and the private sector in the electricity sector was 51:49, Dr Tun Naing, deputy minister for electricity and energy, recently told a forum in Yangon.

Pa-O residents attack coal-fired station Eleven Myanmar 13th Mar 2017
Residents have complained about the coal-fuelled Tijit power plant in Pinlong Township, Pa-O self-administered zone in southern Shan State. They called for environmental and social impact assessments of the station. The Wuxi Hua Guang Electric Power Engineering Company signed a 22-year contract with the Electric Power Enterprise under the Ministry of Electricity and Energy and has operated a coal mine and the power plant in Tijit Township for over a decade. The residents said the operation had negatively affected them and the environment. “We want the water in the area tested first. The water flows all the way to Inle Lake. We have lost plenty of fish. Then test the air and the earth. The soil has been tainted. Everything needs to be tested,” said Chit Wai of Tijit. The river in Tijit is reportedly contaminated with the waste from the coal mine. The water resources have also apparently dried up. Another resident Khun Win Htein said: “We have difficulties ploughing the fields. Before the coal mine, farming was easy. Now the underground water has entered the mines and the surrounding area becomes dry. The water tells blue. It hardens the soil and kills the crops. People develop itches. We want the company to do business transparently.” The business has been suspended for assessments. State newspapers reported that the company had hired staff and run assessments since September.

Electric planners rely on increased coal output Eleven Myanmar 10th Mar 2017
Myanmar is generating electricity mostly from hydropower and it is planning to generate more power from coal by 2030, according to Ministry of Electric Power and Energy. Myanmar currently generates 61 per cent (3,185 megawatts) of its electricity from hydropower, 35 per cent (1,829 megawatts) from gas turbines and 2 per cent (120 megawatts) from coal. By 2020, the ministry plans to generate 4,720 megawatts from hydropower, 1,970 megawatts from natural gas and 1,920 megawatts from coal. By 2030, the ministry plans to generate 8,900 megawatts from hydropower, 4,700 megawatts from natural gas and 7,940 megawatts from coal, according to a research paper by Aung Than Oo, a retired deputy minister. According to the National Electrification Project, 50 per cent of households should have electricity by 2020, 75 per cent by 2025 and 100 per cent by 2030. Around 51 per cent of electricity was generated by state-owned power plants, said Dr Tun Naing, deputy minister for electric power and energy. Myanmar used 6.5 billion units of electricity in 2010-11 and by 2015-16 it was 13.6 billion, he said. Electricity consumption is expected to increase by 16 per cent annually. 

LNG fills energy supply gap Myanmar Times 9th Mar 2017
Despite the eventual decline of three offshore gas projects, attempts are being made to supply 480 million cubic feet per day in summer, according to managing director of Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise U Myo Myint Oo on March 3. “A plan has been arranged to amass up to 430 million cubic feet from offshore oil. Combined with 50 million cubic feet from onshore [oil], the maximum gas supply in this summer will be about 480 million cubic feet [per day],” he said at the electricity and energy sector development forum held at Republic of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industries (UMFCCI) office. There are four offshore gas projects: Yadana, Yetagun, Shwe and Zawtika gas projects. Out of the four, Yetagun gas project has no domestic supply and the rest have a pipeline connection as well as domestic gas supply. Onshore oil and gas fields are producing and supplying 50 million cubic feet of gas per day, and three offshore gas projects are currently supplying about 400 million cubic feet per day. Production line, which began in 1998, has led to a natural decline in some gas reservoirs. Yadana’s gas project in 1998, which saw a boost in production, will face a natural decline in 2021. Zawtika’s natural decline is predicted to be in 2023 and Shwe project’s to be in 2027-2028, said U Myo Myint Oo. “There will be a supply gap for a certain period because those three gas projects are declining and natural gas demand is increasing due to electricity and industry sectors,” the managing director explained. Therefore, Ministry of Electricity and Energy has formed a central committee to explore an alternative – to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) with financial assistance from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Initial processes, including tendering for the LNG supply, will start in 2017, he added.

BD, Myanmar, India considering pipeline connecting the three nations  The Financial Express Online Version 6th Mar 2017
ndia, Bangladesh and Myanmar are now reconsidering a pipeline plan connecting the three nations. Top officials of India said initially the pipeline would link Sitwe in Myanmar’s Arakan to Mizoram and Tripura in Northeast India and Chittagong in Bangladesh. The pipeline would extend to West Bengal on the Indian mainland and Assam and other Northeastern states on the eastern side, reports The Telegraph India on Monday.  Some 7,000 kms of pipeline would be required for the gas grid which could be used by all the three countries. Myanmar and Assam and Tripura in Northeast India would be pumping gas into the grid for sale and supply to mainland India and Bangladesh. The pipeline project was planned during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s talks with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina two years back. India had proposed a cross-country gas pipeline in the first half of the last decade to evacuate gas pumped out from offshore fields in Myanmar awarded to Indian companies. The then government in Dhaka under Khaleda Zia did not agree to the proposal. In 2010, the pipeline proposal had cropped up once again, but by then Myanmar was disinterested as a rival facility was already carrying gas from Myanmar through the Shan and Chin states into China. The 2,338km Myanmar-Yunan pipeline will supply some 6.5 trillion cubic feet of gas over a 30-year-period to China. However new offshore discoveries and Myanmar’s desire to have alternate markets which could balance China have helped to revive plans. Myanmar is estimated to have some 90 cubic feet of gas reserves. 

Hydropower projects generate more than 1,800MW | Eleven Myanmar Eleven Myanmar 6th Mar 2017
Hydropower projects with an installed capacity of 5,200 megawatt are currently generating more than 1,800 megawatts, despite not being finished, said Aung Than Oo, former deputy minister for electricity and energy. “There are 54 power plants with an installed capacity of 5,235 MW, 22 gas turbine plants with 1,900 MW and 27 hydropower plants with an installed capacity of 3,000 MW,” he said. “We need to be aware of the fact that the projects are facing a delay as the government is unable to provide the necessary funds. The Ministry of Planning and Finance said it cannot allocate the budgets for the projects as the Ministry of Electricity and Energy faces a loss. The main cause of the loss is the ministry itself.” In the 2017-2018 fiscal year, total power consumption is expected to reach more than 19,593 units. Last year, the total power consumption amounted to 17,812 units. Dr Tun Naing, Deputy Minister for the Electricity and Energy said at the Union parliament that the ministry suffered a Ks 23.1 loss for every unit sold. This year, more losses have been budgeted compared to the expenditures last year. However, the country is seeing a year-on-year increase in power consumption. Nilar Kyaw, Yangon Region Minister for Electricity, Industry and Transport said the electricity sector suffers a loss of over Ks 470 billion every year. Despite this, about 6.5 million out of more than 10 million households have no access to electricity. It is estimated that the country will lose Ks 900 billion if it generates electricity to meet the power demand of an additional 3.5 million people.

Rising demand set to trouble fuel subsidies Eleven Myanmar 2nd Mar 2017
The Ministry of Electricity and Energy loses Ks23.1 for every power unit sold, Deputy Minister Dr Tun Naing told Parliament. The deputy minister was detailing the principles and concepts of the National Planning Bill for next financial year. The ministry has calculated more budgeted expenditure this year as the country sees a year-on-year increase in power consumption. Last year, power consumption amounted to 17,812 million units. The total power consumption is expected to reach up to 19,593 million units in 2017-18. “To satisfy increased power demand, the ministry has budgeted increased expenditure for the purchase of power from gas-fired power plants in Myingyan and Mawlamyine. For that, the ministry has increased its budgeted expenditures to Ks22.6 billion and reduced its management costs to Ks2.18 billion. The main cause of the loss is higher production costs. The average production cost per unit is Ks77.25 while the selling price is Ks54.15. More losses are budgeted this year as the ministry sells more power,” he added. Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise has budgeted for reduced revenues due to a decline in gas production at its Yetagun project, a drop in natural gas prices, the lack of the new contracts for off-shore oil blocks, production-sharing ratio and the weak kyat.

Financial Services

Myanmar's Max Looking for Financial Services, Banking Partners Bloomberg 9th Mar 2017
Max Myanmar Holding Co., a hotels-to-engineering conglomerate, said it is looking for partnerships in financial services and is in talks with France-based Accor SA to expand cooperation in hotel management. The Yangon, Myanmar-based group expects legal changes in the country to encourage more investment, U Zaw Zaw, Max Myanmar chairman, said in an interview Thursday at the Bloomberg Invest Myanmar conference. U Zaw Zaw also said he “has a dream” to list the company in Hong Kong, Bangkok or Singapore, along with Yangon.

SMEs in crisis due to failure to get bank loans Myanmar Times 27th Feb 2017
Small and middle-sized enterprises are facing a crisis due to difficulties in sourcing financing from banks, said the founder of City Mart Group of Companies, Daw Win Win Tint, “Not getting a bank loan means a catastrophe for the SMEs,” she said after SMEs Authoritative and Development Discussions, held in Naypyitaw on February 24. “The government should provide assistance in this kind of situation,” she added. In their predicament, private business sectors have to obtain K2/K3 interest loans for SMEs to function, and businesses in the government sectors have to face red tape; therefore, there was a gap between what was implemented in the law, and what was currently happening, she added. Daw Win Win Tint called on the government to provide assistance to SMEs to secure bank loans.

Myanmar: Thilawa SEZ opens for business to foreign insurers Asia Insurance Review 31st Mar 2017
Myanmar is opening up its Thilawa special economic zone (SEZ) near Yangon to international insurance companies -- part of a market liberalisation effort expected to gain momentum this year. The government recently notified all foreign insurers with local representative offices that they would be eligible to apply for an SEZ licence, reported Nikkei Asian Review.

Myanmar opens Thilawa SEZ to foreign insurers Nikkei 27th Mar 2017
Myanmar is opening up its Thilawa special economic zone near Yangon to international insurance companies -- part of a market liberalization effort expected to gain momentum this year.

Myanmar: Foreign insurers must have at least US$1 bln in capital funding Asia Insurance Review 27th Mar 2017
Foreign insurance companies setting up business in special economic zones in Myanmar must show at least US$1 billion in capital funding, the Insurance Business Supervisory Board (IBSB) has announced. This is a reduction of a required minimum capital funding of $3 billion previously, reported Eleven Myanmar.The regulator announced criteria for foreign insurance companies to do businesses in special economic zones in Myanmar, as it intends to issue licences to insurers that meet its requirements. The criteria state that foreign insurers must have been in the business for at least 10 years, and they must have a net asset value of at least $1 billion.

Top Myanmar Bank May Sell Stake to Foreign Firm, If Law Allows Bloomberg.com 12th Mar 2017
Myanmar’s largest privately-owned bank by assets says it’s willing to sell a stake to a foreign lender, pending a change in the country’s law, as it gears up to expand its operations in one of Asia’s most under-banked nations. “In any emerging market, capital is important,” said Nang Kham Noung, an executive director of KBZ Bank. “For us, we are open to foreign partnership. However that’s subject to the central bank and the regulation,” she said in an interview last week in Yangon. Myanmar is considering changes to the companies law that would allow foreign investors to acquire stakes of up to 35 percent in local firms, a government official said last month. Existing laws don’t allow foreign investors to hold stakes in local banks, according to KBZ Bank. Like many companies in Myanmar, the bank needs foreign capital to keep pace with rising demand in Myanmar’s rapidly expanding economy, which grew by 8.1 percent last year.

Myanmar starts first audit of state-owned banks in decades The Straits Times 10th Mar 2017
Myanmar is embarking on the first comprehensive audit of state-owned banks in decades, part of a push to modernise the financial system and tackle risks to the nation's rapid economic growth. The World Bank is working with Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's government on the project and the results will help to clarify options for restructuring the sector, according to Ms Nagavalli Annamalai, a lead counsel at the multilateral lender who has specialised in banking sector development for almost two decades.

Food & Agriculture

FDA delays labelling of food products The Myanmar Times 4th Apr 2017
The Department of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that the labelling requirements for local food products will be delayed by three months. FDA Director General Dr Than Htut said that this extension will give food manufacturing companies more time to register their products while also preparing themselves to meet the requirements set by his department. On April 1, the FDA met with a representative from the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) and local food manufacturers in Yangon to discuss issues and problems that they faced when the announcement of the new requirements was made.

Cambodia, Myanmar: opportunities for VN firms vietnamnews.vn 4th Apr 2017
There is a huge opportunity for Vietnamese firms to invest in agriculture in their countries and export agricultural produce to other markets, Cambodian and Myanmarese officials have said. Meach Yady, chief of agricultural marketing at the Cambodian Department of Planning and Statistics, said his country had invested a lot in agriculture but the sector had not developed commensurately. He was speaking at a meeting held on Friday in HCM City to introduce the International Exhibition and Conference on Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture, Fisheries for Cambodia and Myanmar.

Health & Life Sciences

Arrested development Frontier Myanmar 3rd Apr 2017
As Myanmar continues its transition to democracy, the clamour of voices wanting to be heard is constant. Their concerns are serious and their voices are loud and sometimes they use strikes or protests or even military operations to get their messages across. But there’s a group that suffers its grievances in silence. It comprises about 30 percent of the population: It’s our children. To be exact, 28.6 percent of the population is aged under 15, shows data from the 2014 census. Myanmar remains one of the world’s least developed countries and many children suffer serious health problems. Census data shows that Myanmar has an infant mortality rate of 62 for every 1,000 live births, and that 72 children die between birth and the age of five out of every 1,000 live births. Myanmar also has one of the highest rates of stunting among children aged under five in ASEAN, the multi-donor Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund said last month.

A great step forward for access to healthcare in Myanmar Frontier Myanmar 3rd Apr 2017
Yesterday, Myanmar took one big step forward on the path to achieving universal health coverage when State Counsellor Daw Aung Sung Su Kyi launched its new National Health Plan 2017-21. This is the first, medium-term NHP of the democratically-elected government. What I was most excited to see was the vision of guaranteeing an Essential Package of Health Services to the entire population of Myanmar by 2030, moving the country on the path toward universal health coverage. It focuses not just on disease priorities but also on health inequities – a key challenge globally.

Myanmar Trains Midwives to Tackle Maternal Death Rate U.S. News and World Report 1st Apr 2017
Myanmar is training up hundreds of midwives in an effort to reduce the number of women who die in childbirth, one of many social policy reforms launched by the country as it emerges from decades of military rule. Statistics show childbirth and pregnancy-related complications are the leading causes of death among women in Myanmar, mainly due to delays in reaching emergency care. According to the most recent census, 282 women die per 100,000 births in the country, equivalent to about eight deaths every day, double the regional average and far above the mortality ratio of 20 deaths per 100,000 in neighboring Thailand or six per 100,000 in Singapore.

ICT

Foreign-owned telcos turn up the heat Eleven Myanmar 4th Apr 2017
As the nation’s fourth telecom operator – Myanmar National Tele & Communications – prepares for its entry into the market, foreign-owned telcos have intensified their efforts to expand network and services. Rene Meza, chief executive officer of Ooredoo Myanmar, said that the Qatar-based telco has invested more than $2 billion (Bt72 billion) in Myanmar, and planned to increase the capital over time. He said the telco now has more than 9 million customers, and the majority of its customers successfully registered their SIMs, as per the Transportation and Communications Ministry’s instruction.

Towering up: Next battle looms in mobile connectivity Frontier Myanmar 27th Feb 2017
ENGINEER DAVID Kittle is happy when people don’t notice his work. As national manager for telecom infrastructure company Edotco, he would prefer that no one pays attention to the towers that punctuate Yangon’s skyline, some perched on rooftops like steel gargoyles, others looming over the horizon like rocket ships. But from a rooftop construction site in Yankin, Kittle sees little else. “That one looks like an Ooredoo,” he said, of a small, silver spike on a roof a few blocks away. To the south, a vaguely rectangular shape all but invisible in the smog. “That one over there looks like one of MPT’s.” The tower Kittle has climbed to the roof to inspect is a clean, silver tripod, roughly the height of a palm tree. It’s on a roof across the street from a high-rise building site. “When that is finished,” he said, motioning to the high-rise, “this tower is going to have a lot of data traffic.” Telenor requested the rooftop tower, but the telco company will not own it. Rather, Edotco, a Malaysia-based firm that acquired the Myanmar Tower Company (a partnership between Digicel and Yoma Strategic) in 2015, will lease antenna space to operators, as if the tower were a condo or office building.

Infrastructure

Two-lane highway to link Thailand and Dawei SEZ The Myanmar Times 22nd Mar 2017
Visits to Myanmar led by the deputy prime minister of Thailand, followed by a visit from the minister of transportation of Thailand who met with Vice President Henry Van Thio in February, resulted in an agreement to continue the Dawei SEZ project within a month. Pisanu Suvanajata, the Thai ambassador to Myanmar who attended the meeting with Henry Van Thio, spoke exclusively to the Myanmar Times in February 22 that both sides agreed to restart the SEZ. “They agreed to recommence it [Dawei’s SEZ] in a month’s time. It is positive that in a month from now that both sides will have a chance to sit together again will show how we can move the project forward.

Ride-hailing firms Grab, Uber pursue growth in Myanmar Reuters 21st Mar 2017
Grab is working with a small group of taxi drivers in a trial in Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, and would increase in scale gradually, the company said in a statement. Myanmar would add to Grab's other regional operations in Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Its U.S. rival Uber operates worldwide.

Taxi-hailing service Grab to launch in Myanmar Financial Times 21st Mar 2017
Grab, the Southeast Asian rival to Uber, has launched a trial of its taxi-hailing service in Myanmar, its first expansion to a new country since 2014. The Singapore-based startup, valued at more than $3bn last September, announced on Tuesday that it was operating a trial of GrabTaxi in Yangon, working with a small group of taxi drivers.

Uber Rival Grab Hits the Road in Myanmar WSJ 21st Mar 2017
GrabTaxi Holdings Pte., a top Southeast Asian ride-sharing startup, started service in Myanmar on Tuesday, hoping for an edge in its race to reach new areas ahead of its American rival Uber Technologies Inc. Since launching in Malaysia in 2012, Singapore-based Grab has expanded rapidly and now has more than 600,000 drivers in 35 cities in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. It is backed by investors including Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. and is valued at $3 billion. Uber, a global behemoth valued at $68 billion, operates in more than 25 Southeast Asian cities. It hasn't disclosed how many drivers it has. Both are competing for users in a region that is home to more than 600 million people. Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing market is forecast to surge to $13.1 billion by 2025 from $2.5 billion in 2015, according to a report from Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Singapore state-investment firm Temasek Holdings.

Market Regulation

The Guide to Employment Permits for Foreign Workers in Myanmar ASEAN Business News 24th Mar 2017
As Myanmar continues to open up after years of isolation, many foreign investors and multinational companies are entering the country for the first time. For investors establishing businesses from the ground-up, skilled and experienced foreign workers are often brought in to oversee the establishment of new operations. The ability to employ skilled foreign workers is particularly important in Myanmar given the poor state of training and work-preparedness in the country. According to the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, of Myanmar’s population of approximately 52 million, there are only about 500 skilled workers who meet international standards.

Regions can approve up to US$5m investments Print The Myanmar Times 13th Mar 2017
The maximum amount of investments which can be approved by regional and state governments has been set to US$5 million (K6 billion). Region and state investment commissions will now be able to approve proposals without having to seek permission from Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC), according to an announcement from MIC chair U Kyaw Win on March 3.

Thailand

Vongthep: On Thailand-Myanmar migration issues Myanmar Times 13th Mar 2017
Myanmar and Thailand signed a bilateral MOU to govern the labour migration between the two, especially from Myanmar to Thailand. The MOU provides a framework to facilitate regular labour migration by focusing more on admission procedures, prevention of irregular migration and employment, and repatriation of migrant workers, among others. Issues of labour market demands and social protection and rights at work of migrant workers are not comprehensively covered. The MOU gives mandate for the authorised agencies of both countries to work together for the establishment of procedures to integrate illegal workers who are in the country of the other party prior to the entry into force of the MOU. This paved the way for the regularization of undocumented migrant workers in Thailand. The MOU also gives extensive role of the government in recruitment. It is expected that implementation of the MOU could address the lengthy procedure for recruitment and placement.