Myanmar's Rakhine State Conundrum

Myanmar Update | September 25, 2017
Authors: Matt Solomon and Jack Myint
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

December 6-8, Myanmar Business Mission: Please save the date for the US-ASEAN Business Council's annual business mission to Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon, Myanmar on December 6-8, 2017. Official invitation with registration details to follow. Requested meetings include: President U Htin Kyaw, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Key Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament including Speaker of the Pyithu Hluttaw (Lower House) U Win Myint, Myanmar Investment Commission, and the UMFCCI. Please contact Jack Myint at jmyint@usasean.org with any questions or to express interest.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Myanmar's Rakhine State Conundrum

Over the past month, the long-simmering situation between the Muslim minority and Buddhist majority in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State has again boiled over, with escalating violence, international outcry, and a growing humanitarian crisis.

The latest chapter in the seemingly-intractable conflict dates to August 23, when Myanmar’s Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, published its final report, which included recommendations to the government on how to best tackle the ongoing violence in Rakhine with respect to its Muslim population. The report, which included long-term strategic steps to garner peace and reconciliation among various ethnic and religious groups within Rakhine, was received favorably by the Myanmar government and the larger Burmese population, with the exception of extremist Buddhist nationalist groups such as MaBaTha, which rejected participation of Muslims on the commission and saw the recommendations as being “too soft.” Worth noting in the report is the recommendation to appoint someone at the Union Minister-level specifically tasked with handling the situation in Rakhine.

The very next day, on August 24, a series of coordinated attacks against 20 police outposts and an army base in Rakhine claimed the lives of eight police officers and an immigration officer. The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) claimed responsibility for the attacks, which the Myanmar government has since labeled a terrorist group. The Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s army) retaliated with a series of security operations to root out terrorists amongst the local Muslim population, bringing fatalities up to over 300. On September 11, ARSA proposed a ceasefire, which the Myanmar government promptly rejected as it has “no policy to negotiate with terrorists.”

It has been estimated by the UN’s Refugee Agency that, as of September 22, approximately 420,000 refugees have fled across the border to Bangladesh. Some estimates are much higher. Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has requested that the Myanmar government take back these refugees. International outcry over the Myanmar government’s handling of the matter escalated quickly, with media, rights groups, and prominent world leaders calling for an end to violence against the Muslim population in Rakhine. In the United States, U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced a resolution condemning the violence against the Muslim population in Rakhine and calling on the government, particularly State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, to act sooner rather than later. Additionally, in light of the Tatmadaw’s excessive use of force in response to the terrorist attack, which has impacted civilians more so than it has terrorists, Senator McCain has said that he will strip language from the 2018 National Defense Authorization Bill authorizing defense spending that would have expanded U.S. military cooperation with Myanmar.

On the other hand, Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) rejected McCain and Durbin’s resolution and was less critical of Myanmar’s government and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who he claims is still “the best hope for democratic reform in [Myanmar]” and that publicly condemning her for not doing enough, while she is doing the best she can, is “simply not constructive.” Senator McConnell did condemn the situation in Rakhine but placed the emphasis more on Myanmar’s military. Speaking on the Senate floor last week, he said, “According to the Burmese constitution, the army is essentially autonomous [in all matters of security], and it has control on the ground of the Rohyinga situation; unfounded criticism of Suu Kyi exaggerates her ability to command the military, which the Burmese constitution does not actually allow her to do.”

On September 19, in a televised speech, Myanmar’s State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi addressed the international community on her government’s commitment to resolve the issue in Rakhine. To access the full speech, please click here. The most significant highlights of the speech were her commitment to adopt the recommendations made in the Rakhine Advisory Commission led by Kofi Annan; welcoming international scrutiny on the matter and inviting diplomats to visit some affected areas; and the assurance that the refugees who fled Myanmar to Bangladesh will be accepted back, under a 1993 agreement made between the two countries. This process, however, will not necessarily guarantee citizenship for everyone. Only those who meet the criteria under the current 1982 Citizenship Law will be granted citizenship.

The international community’s response to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s speech has been split, but her domestic public support remains high, with a majority of Burmese (young and old) behind her on this issue. Regardless, it seems that those desiring peace in Rakhine will have no other choice but to work with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her government to find effective and long-term resolutions towards peacebuilding and reconciliation. The actual implementation of the Annan commission will be key and something to monitor closely. There are Rakhine nationalist politicians, MaBaTha (Buddhist extremist group), and some elements within the Tatmadaw who are against the commission’s recommendations, but these hardliners, at least for now, are keeping their disagreements within the bounds of the democratic process.

Following Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s speech, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke with her by phone and welcomed her government’s commitment to end the violence in Rakhine and to allow those displaced by the violence to return home. Additionally, he urged the government and the Tatamadaw to facilitate humanitarian aid for displaced communities throughout the affected areas, and to address allegations of human rights abuses and violations on the part of Myanmar’s military. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, in his address to the United Nations General Assembly, was more critical and specifically called out Myanmar’s Tatamadaw, saying that, “Burmese security forces responded to militant attacks on government outposts with terrible savagery. The images of the violence and its victims have shocked the American people and decent people all over the world.”

On September 20, Vice President Henry Van Thio, in his address to the United Nations General Assembly, affirmed the Myanmar Government’s commitment to peacefully resolving the situation in Rakhine State, assured that there has been violence since September 5, and that security forces in Rakhine have been instructed to take “full measures” to avoid collateral damage and harming innocent civilians.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 
The Council is seeking input from members to an initial draft of its "Myanmar Sense of Business 2017" paper. To review the draft, please click here.  This paper will serve to inform senior U.S. government officials of the hurdles and obstacles facing American businesses operating in Myanmar. It will help to identify areas in which improvements can be made, both from the USG and Myanmar government side, thus setting the stage for an effective bilateral dialogue that incorporates the real views and challenges facing the American private sector. Please submit all comments to Jack Myint at jmyint@usasean.org.
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
China welcomes Myanmar's efforts to alleviate situation in Rakhine
As West Ponders Sanctions, Will Myanmar Seek Beijing’s Embrace?
PM Narendra Modi on Myanmar visit: It’s about emotional connect
Why Myanmar is important to Japan

National Affairs
Vice-president 'concern' over Rakhine

Market Development
DICA releases list of registered public companies

Banking
Myanmar moves to stave off credit crunch-

Customs
Scholars point out the need for pro-active engagement of Myanmar in BIMSTEC
Myanmar presents new trademark bill
WWF-Myanmar sounds alarm about illegal wildlife trade
Pilot scheme speaks volumes about potential of Mae Sot-Myawaddy trade

Defense & Security
U.S. Considers Limiting Military Ties to Myanmar Over Rohingya Crisis
UK to suspend its military ties with Myanmar
Unpacking the Myanmar Commander-in-Chief’s Grand India Visit
China's military reform and Myanmar’s security dynamic
Aung San Suu Kyi blames 'terrorists' for Rohingya 'misinformation'
Myanmar: Who are the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army?

Economics
DICA processes investment proposals
Rohingya Crisis Dents Myanmar Hopes of Western Investment Boom
Crisis puts more pressure on Rakhine’s troubled economy
Courting investments and fostering ties with China
Is Myanmar's jade business driving ethnic tensions?
Myanmar's foreign investment weathers 'ethnic cleansing' accusations-
Businesses more optimistic on the Myanmar investment arena compared to last year
Govt Eyes Six Billion Dollar Foreign Investment in 2017-18 Fiscal Year
Singapore leads foreign investment
Foreign and domestic investments rise during govt's first fiscal year
15 days for regional investment commissions to assess applications
Intellectual property laws needed to attract fresh foreign investment
Suu Kyi government brings back Myanmar's 'Mr. SEZ'-

Energy
Myanmar exports 2m tonnes of oil via pipeline over 4 months
Where Will Myanmar's Energy Come From?

Financial Services
Regulatory roadmap needed for banking sector reform
Central Bank issues licence to OK Dollar, but no change to fine print
Myanmar’s First Gold Exchange Center Takes Shape in Yangon
Yangon allocates additional K47 billion budget
Myanmar to promote trade with ASEAN, China's Hong Kong

Food & Agriculture
Govt plans OMS for grassroots
Negotiations for livestock exports to China underway
Thai court orders poultry farm to pay Myanmar workers
Myanmar turns to marketable crops
Bangladesh-Myanmar sign MoU on rice trade
Coffee exports stimulated by production and demand
Ministry bans bean imports
Farmers decry confiscation of land for civil servant housing project
Ministers of Agriculture in Mekong agree to step up the cooperation on boosting food safety
AgriTech accelerator for the Mekong region launched
GMS ministers endorse strategy to boost food safety in Mekong
Bangladesh signs rice export deal
Switching crops may be difficult for bean farmers
Yoma, Proximity join hands to boost farm loans
Struggle in the agriculture sector
Ministry launches mobile app for crop & consumer safety
Food aid suspended as Myanmar state sinks deeper into violence

Health & Life Sciences
H1N1 flu cases fall sharply in August
Government launches anti-betel nut campaign
Reforms in Myanmar pave the way for health care investment
3 more die in 3 days in Myanmar due to swine flu
Nationwide nutrition survey in September
China medical teams conduct free eye surgery in Yangon
Myanmar: International Humanitarian Access to Rakhine State Must Be Permitted
Starvation risk for 50,000 Rohingya in Myanmar camps as aid stops
Myanmar’s Public Health System and Policy: Improving but Inequality Still Looms Large
H1N1 cases going down, says health officials
FDA seeks to regulate sale of EC pills
Dengue fever: Myanmar infections quadruple since 2016
China provides emergency aid of swine flu vaccine to Myanmar
Insufficient Toilets Pose Risk to Women and Girls

ICT
Monetising Myanmar's potential
Myanmar among five most exposed countries: Microsoft
Myanmar newcomer preparing 4G-only network
Low expectations as Pyithu Hluttaw passes Telecoms Law amendments

Indonesia
Indonesia sends foreign minister to Myanmar

Infrastructure
Lack of investment throttles transport infrastructure
Hantharwaddy airport priority for government
Myanmar's Rakhine state to construct economic zone
Grab to invest US$100million in Myanmar expansion
Proposed port and highway to align Ayeyarwady with Belt and Road
Thilawa’s Myanmar consortium considers joining Kyaukphyu SEZ
Myanmar mulls reforms to meet infrastructure funding-
State Counsellor stresses Belt and Road needs to align national priorities
DHL invests B2.7bn in supply chain

Insurance
Why Myanmar’s Insurance Market is the Next Big Thing

Malaysia
DPM denies arbitrary issuance of UNHCR card for Rohingyas

Manufacturing
Chinese car manufacturer expands to Mandalay

Vietnam
Myanmar and Vietnam boost ties, forge comprehensive cooperative partnership
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

China welcomes Myanmar's efforts to alleviate situation in Rakhine Reuters 22nd Sep 2017
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China welcomes the measures taken by Myanmar’s government to alleviate the situation in Rakhine state. Wang made the comments in New York on Thursday on during a meeting on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly with Myanmar officials, according to a Foreign Ministry statement. More than 400,000 Muslim Rohingya have fled from Rakhine across the border to Bangladesh following a counter-insurgency offensive by Myanmar’s army in the wake of militant attacks on security forces. U.N. officials have described Myanmar’s strategy as “ethnic cleansing”.

As West Ponders Sanctions, Will Myanmar Seek Beijing’s Embrace? The Irrawaddy 22nd Sep 2017
As some Western governments seriously consider sanctions on Myanmar’s military and government in light of security operations in Rakhine State dogged by allegations of human rights abuses and dubbed ethnic cleansing by the UN, Beijing is ready to step in to assist its southern neighbor. There is a sense of irony to see that the West’s abrupt lifting of sanctions and full support for political reform in Myanmar since 2011 is on the verge of reversing. The West didn’t listen when activists and observers warned them not to drop sanctions and welcome Myanmar with open arms too quickly.

PM Narendra Modi on Myanmar visit: It’s about emotional connect The Economic Times 5th Sep 2017
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be focussing on a strong emotional connect with Myanmar during his two-day long visit there to as many as three places in that country from Tuesday and he has termed Myanmar as “a close friend of India’s”. In a personalised e-mail to the Indian community in Myanmar for the PM’s community event in Yangon’s Thuwanna Indoor Stadium, the PM has said that it is “with great delight and enthusiasm” that he would begin his Myanmar visit. “This two-day visit is my first bilateral visit to Myanmar, a valued neighbour and a close friend of India’s,” the PM has said in his e-mail, officials aware of the matter said.

Why Myanmar is important to Japan The Myanmar Times 30th Aug 2017
Hirokazu Yamaoka, managing director of the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), which is a Japanese governmental organisation under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, recently met with The Myanmar Times to discuss Japan’s plans in Myanmar. Here’s an excerpt of that interview at JETRO’s office on U Wisara Road:

National Affairs

Vice-president 'concern' over Rakhine BBC News 21st Sep 2017
Myanmar's Vice-President Henry Van Thio says his government is "deeply concerned" about the exodus of people from Rakhine state into Bangladesh. Speaking at the UN General Assembly, he said Myanmar was investigating "a problem of significant magnitude". But he repeated the government line that the reason for the upheaval was unclear and that the "great majority" of Muslims had stayed behind.

Market Development

DICA releases list of registered public companies Frontier Myanmar 22nd Aug 2017
In a move to stamp out the growing problem of illegal share sales, the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration has issued a statement naming 55 registered public companies. The list includes four companies – First Myanmar Investment, Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings, Myanmar Citizens Bank and First Private Bank – that are listed on the Yangon Stock Exchange, while the rest are mostly traded over the counter. The public companies include Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd, Myanmar Agribusiness Public Corporation Ltd, Yatanarpon Teleport Public Company Ltd and Yangon Bus Public Company Ltd. The public notification comes in response to a number of recent scams in which private companies have illegally sold “shares” to the public. The DICA statement said some were using social media to promote their businesses to a wider audience.

Banking

Myanmar moves to stave off credit crunch- Nikkei Asian Review 22nd Sep 2017
Myanmar's banking system is facing tough new regulations that could take more than $1 billion worth of local currency out of circulation, severely curtail lending and badly hurt the economy if a tight compliance deadline is not eased, senior bankers have warned. The Central Bank of Myanmar published its first set of modern prudential regulations in July, in some cases replacing rules made nearly 30 years ago. Drafted with help from the International Monetary Fund, the regulations mark a significant step in bringing Myanmar into line with international standards. But critics warn that "unrealistic deadlines" for compliance could put some of Myanmar's 28 banks in jeopardy .

Customs

Scholars point out the need for pro-active engagement of Myanmar in BIMSTEC Mizzima 2nd Sep 2017
Myanmar needs to engage more proactively with Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) grouping as it is strategically located as a gateway for Act East Policy of India as well as Look West perspective of Thailand. This was the central message of the meeting of scholars and policy makers who assembled at the invitation of the Parami Round table on the occasion of 20th anniversary of BIMSTEC.

Myanmar presents new trademark bill Lexology 18th Sep 2017
Myanmar has yet to produce its own specific legislation on trademarks. As a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), the nation is expected to deliver its IP laws in the near future to provide protection for trademarks, copyright, patents, and other intellectual property. From August 8-10, 2017, the draft of Myanmar’s Trade Mark Law has recently been published in newspapers for public comment. The bill is now being reviewed by the concerned Draft Law Committee of the Parliament – its approval is expected by the end of this year.

WWF-Myanmar sounds alarm about illegal wildlife trade Myanmar Times 8th Sep 2017
WWF-Myanmar raised the alert over the intensified illegal wildlife trade in the country, which targets pangolins, bears and elephant skin.  Cases are on the rise – 28 cases led to arrests in 2013 and 34 last year. So far this year, 24 cases have been reported through August, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation. Dr Sapai Min, project manager for illegal wildlife trade for WWF-Myanmar, warned about widespread illegal wildlife trading in the border towns of Tachileik and Mong La that mostly thrive on wildlife species found in the country.

Pilot scheme speaks volumes about potential of Mae Sot-Myawaddy trade The Myanmar Times 28th Aug 2017
A pilot project which uses semi-trailer swapping with bonded cargo has halved the time needed to reach Thilawa SEZ from Thailand compared to conventional road freight. Despite numerous problems, the scheme represents a step towards efficient and barrier-free trade between Mae-Sot and Myawaddy, making cross-border logistics a potential option for a wide range of suppliers.

Defense & Security

U.S. Considers Limiting Military Ties to Myanmar Over Rohingya Crisis Time 21st Sep 2017
The Trump Administration is considering limiting U.S. ties with Myanmar’s military in response to its recent violence against the country’s Rohingya Muslims, a White House official tells TIME. In the past three weeks, more than 420,000 Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic minority group, have fled their homes in Myanmar, also known as Burma, in what the United Nations human rights chief has called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

UK to suspend its military ties with Myanmar Yeni Safak 21st Sep 2017
The U.K. is suspending all its engagement with Myanmar's military until the action against the country's Muslim Rohingya minority is halted, British Prime Minister Theresa May said Tuesday. "We are very concerned about what is happening to the Rohingya people in Burma [Myanmar]. The military action against them must stop," May told the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Unpacking the Myanmar Commander-in-Chief’s Grand India Visit The Diplomat 22nd Aug 2017
On July 7, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief of Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s armed forces, embarked on a rare, eight-day state visit to India. Personally ushered in by the Indian army’s chief, General Bipin Rawat, at the Buddhist shrine in Bodh Gaya, Myanmar’s top general toured several crucial military and nonmilitary facilities around the country before meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defense Minister Arun Jaitley, and National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval on July 14. Earlier in July, both sides had met at the 7th Delhi Dialogue, where they promised to scale up counterinsurgency and trade cooperation.

China's military reform and Myanmar’s security dynamic Frontier Myanmar 22nd Aug 2017
The structural reforms of the People’s Liberation Army initiated in recent years by President Xi Jinping are the most wide-ranging and ambitious since 1949 and supplement China’s strategic interests and foreign policy in the region. The creation of the new Central Military Commission departments and ground force headquarters, and the transformation to joint operations and joint forces, have created a new security dynamic in China-Myanmar relations. One of the most notable shifts has been restructuring the seven military regions into five theatres of command. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the restructuring of military regions has had an impact on conflicts along the border with Myanmar.

Aung San Suu Kyi blames 'terrorists' for Rohingya 'misinformation' CNN 6th Sep 2017
Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has made her first public comments on the fate of her country's persecuted Rohingya minority since new violence broke out almost two weeks ago. Suu Kyi, who as Myanmar's state counsellor is the country's de facto leader, claimed during a phone conversation with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan a "huge iceberg of misinformation" about the Rohingya crisis was being distributed to benefit "terrorists." According to a readout of the call, she added her government was fighting to ensure "terrorism" didn't spread over the whole of Rakhine state.

Myanmar: Who are the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army? BBC News 6th Sep 2017
More than 100,000 Rohingya people have fled their homes since 25 August. They are trying to escape violence, following a military counter-offensive against Rohingya militants who attacked police posts. The insurgents claim to be acting on the behalf of Myanmar's Rohingya - but who are they? Who are Arsa? The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa) operates in Rakhine state in northern Myanmar, where the mostly-Muslim Rohingya people have faced persecution. The Myanmar government has denied them citizenship and sees them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Clashes erupt periodically between ethnic groups but in the last year, an armed Rohingya insurgency has grown. Arsa, previously known by other names including Harakah al-Yaqin, has killed more than 20 police officers and members of the security forces.

Economics

DICA processes investment proposals Eleven Myanmar 21st Sep 2017
The Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) says it has started processing investment proposals submitted for the establishment of industrial zones, housing and the construction sectors.  On September 19, officials from the DICA held discussions with three companies on hotel and tourism, transport and communication, the establishment of industrial zones, housing and construction sectors. 

Rohingya Crisis Dents Myanmar Hopes of Western Investment Boom The New York Times 21st Sep 2017
When officials from Myanmar's commercial capital Yangon toured six European countries in June, they were hoping to drum up investment in transport, energy and education. Instead, they were bombarded with questions about the country's treatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority, who have long complained of persecution by the Buddhist majority in the oil-rich, ethnically divided, western state of Rakhine. "In each of every country, that issue was always brought up," Hlaing Maw Oo, secretary of Yangon City Development Committee, told Reuters after the 16-day trip.

Crisis puts more pressure on Rakhine’s troubled economy Frontier Myanmar 20th Sep 2017
Despite ambitious plans for a development project in Maungdaw aimed at boosting trade with Bangladesh, businesspeople in Rakhine say the state’s economy is in deep trouble and may take years to recover from the unfolding crisis. AS A grim humanitarian crisis continues to put a spotlight on Rakhine State, plans are continuing for an economic development zone in conflict-hit Maungdaw Township, officials said. The Rakhine State government has signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the zone with the Naff River Galaxy Infrastructure Development Group, which was registered as a company on September 5, show records from the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration. Speaking more than two weeks after the August 25 attacks by fighters from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army that triggered the crisis, U Aung Naing Oo, the director-general of DICA, said he didn’t believe that the conflict would affect investment.

Courting investments and fostering ties with China The Myanmar Times 20th Sep 2017
Myanmar’s economy is inextricably linked to neighbouring China. The country exports more than half its agriculture produce across the border, making China one of its largest trade partners. Meanwhile, China is also the largest investor in Myanmar, with total approved investments totaling US$19.1 billion as at August 31. As a whole, foreign direct investments from China make up about a quarter of total FDI into Myanmar.  Yet, total approved FDI from China has slowed over the past fiscal year. To discuss the situation, The Myanmar Times met with Yan Yu, Vice President of Yunnan Provincial General Chamber of Commerce (YPGCC) for an exclusive interview during his visit to Myanmar on September 18.

Is Myanmar's jade business driving ethnic tensions? Aljazeera 18th Sep 2017
Over the past few weeks, nearly 400,000 people escaping violence in Myanmar's eastern state of Rakhine have streamed into Bangladesh, creating a humanitarian crisis. The UN Security Council has condemned the violence against the Rohingya people, calling it "ethnic cleansing". A report by Global Witness suggested that natural resource exploitation, especially the country's billion-dollar jade business, may also be playing a part in the country's religious and ethnic tensions. Myanmar has some of the largest and best quality jade reserves in the world. According to a report by Global Witness, the country's jade industry was worth $31bn in 2014, which is as big as half of Myanmar's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014. But none of that money is reaching ordinary people.

Myanmar's foreign investment weathers 'ethnic cleansing' accusations- Nikkei Asian Review 15th Sep 2017
In a bright, well-carpeted conference hall in Naypyitaw -- Myanmar's sprawling capital built by the former military government -- more than 1,000 investors and business executives gathered earlier this week for the annual Euromoney Myanmar Global Investment Forum. The opening remarks on Sept. 12 by speakers including government officials and foreign and local executives were typically optimistic and laudatory, acknowledging the "mouthwatering" opportunities available to investors in the country. Many at the conference, both speakers and delegates, were positive on the outlook for the economy and investment.

Businesses more optimistic on the Myanmar investment arena compared to last year The Myanmar Times 13th Sep 2017
Prospects for the Myanmar economy are looking promising despite the unrest in northern Rakhine, officials from the public and private sector said today. Inflation pressures are expected to ease and private and public investments in infrastructure services and non-commodity sectors such as light manufacturing and hospitality are forecast to grow, said U Maung Maung Win, Deputy Minister of Planning and Finance, during his keynote speech during the 2017 Myanmar Global Myanmar Investment Forum holding in Nay Pyi Taw.

Govt Eyes Six Billion Dollar Foreign Investment in 2017-18 Fiscal Year The Irrawaddy 12th Sep 2017
The Myanmar government is seeking to attract US$6 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the current 2017-18 fiscal year, according to the Ministry of National Planning and Finance. FDI in the year between Apr. 1, 2017 and Mar. 30, 2017 has so far reached more than $3.5 billion, said director general of the Central Statistical Organization Office Dr. War War Maung, adding that this was an increase compared to the same period last year. The Myanmar Global Investment Forum 2017 kicked off at the Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw on Tuesday, organized by the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) and Hong Kong-based Euro Money Institutional Investor (Asia). The two-day forum is being attended by more than 1,200 local and foreign businesspeople. “Foreign investors are aware that there are challenges [in investing in Myanmar], but that there are also many opportunities, and they are therefore interested in Myanmar,” Dr. War War Maung told reporters. Yangon Region tops the list of foreign investment in Myanmar, followed by Mandalay and Bago regions and Mon State. Most investment is in the manufacturing industry, followed by the service industry and the telecom industry Singapore is Myanmar’s largest investor, followed by China, Hong Kong and Thailand according to secretary of MIC U Aung Naing Oo. According to Myanmar officials, the government plans to hold investment annually in order to strike a balance between Myanmar’s preferred industries for foreign investment and foreign investors’ choices for investment. Myanmar drew a total of $6.7 billion in foreign direct investment from 138 foreign enterprises in the fiscal year 2016-17, exceeding that year’s targeted amount of $6 billion, according to deputy minister for national planning and finance U Hset Aung. In the 2016-17 fiscal year, transportation and communications industry attracted 46 percent of total foreign investment, manufacturing industry 18 percent, and power generation 14 percent. Over the last year, Vietnam’s investment in Myanmar increased more than any other foreign investor. Other investors include Canada, Thailand, Samoa, Marshall Islands, Cambodia, Ireland, Lebanon, and France. From 1988 until March 2017, foreign investment in Myanmar totaled $70 billion across 1,246 projects. Currently, 966 businesses are still operating with total investment of $60 billion, according to the Ministry of National Planning and Finance.

Singapore leads foreign investment Eleven Myanmar 1st Sep 2017
More than US$3 billion worth of investment entered Myanmar by August this financial year and Singapore topped the list of foreign investors, according to the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC). Singapore has traditionally been used as a conduit by investors in countries where economic sanctions have been imposed on Myanmar. The MIC said it allowed about US$190 million of investment at Thilawa SEZ in line with the special economic zone law. China was second, said MIC Deputy Director General Than Aung Kyaw.

Foreign and domestic investments rise during govt's first fiscal year The Myanmar Times 1st Sep 2017
During the 2016-17 fiscal year, the NLD government approved new foreign investments in a total of 138 projects. Investors included European countries such as the UK, France and the Netherlands as well as Asian countries like Thailand and Vietnam. But they also included the likes of Australia, Bangladesh, and Canada, which have not invested in Myanmar for more than ten years. Meanwhile, countries that had never invested in Myanmar before, such as Lebanon, Ireland, and Brazil, have also started investing, U Set Aung said.

15 days for regional investment commissions to assess applications The Myanmar Times 25th Aug 2017
Regional and state investment commissions are given 15 working days to review an application once they have accepted a submission from an investor, according to Notification No 25/2017 released by the Myanmar Investment Commission. The Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) has released the latest procedures for state and regional investment commissions in assessing various types of applications.

Intellectual property laws needed to attract fresh foreign investment The Myanmar Times 24th Aug 2017
“Enacting proper IP laws is fundamental and urgently required to attract Japanese businesses to invest in Myanmar. Some investors are afraid to invest here because the government has not enacted any IP-related laws until now”, he said. Draft laws pertaining to trademark, patent, copyright and design rights have been sent to the National Parliament for approval. The drafts were written during the previous administration under U Thein Sein in cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Ministry of Education and the former Ministry of Science and Technology.

Suu Kyi government brings back Myanmar's 'Mr. SEZ'- Nikkei Asian Review 24th Aug 2017
Myanmar's government has brought a key architect of the previous administration's economic policy back into the fold, aiming to bolster confidence in the business community. President Htin Kyaw's office on Monday announced the appointment of Set Aung, until recently the deputy governor of the central bank, as deputy minister for national planning and finance. Under former President Thein Sein, Set Aung was instrumental in promoting an open-door approach, including the creation of the Thilawa special economic zone on the outskirts of Yangon. Since de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy took power, some critics have questioned the economy's direction without Set Aung's hand on the tiller. Set Aung became an economic adviser to Thein Sein in 2011. In 2013, he took the post of deputy minister for national planning and economic development, and also became deputy governor of the Central Bank of Myanmar.

Energy

Myanmar exports 2m tonnes of oil via pipeline over 4 months The Myanmar Times 21st Sep 2017
Over 2 million tonnes of crude oil has been exported to China through the Myanmar-China pipeline, according to U Toe Aung Myint, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Commerce (MOC). The pipeline connecting Made Island in Rakhine State to Kunming, capital of China’s Yunnan Probince was inaugurated on May 2, 2017.  By September 1, the export volume exceeded 2 million tonnes, according to MOC’s statistics. The project flourished in the framework of the oil export agreement, signed during President U Htin Kyaw’s visit to China in April this year. The pipeline amounted to US$2.45 billion, with 51 percent ownership to China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and 49pc by state-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).

Where Will Myanmar's Energy Come From? The Diplomat 22nd Aug 2017
Myanmar’s high growth in electricity demand — rising by around 13 percent annually — is a challenge for the government. Demand is estimated to reach 4,500 MW by 2020 and 13,410 MW in 2030. Currently there is no plan to meet this high demand. High-level policy shifts and unclear policies within the cabinet and ministries have stalled even previously signed MoUs on power generation. The average interest rates on project loans are also increasing due to unstable policies and on-going armed clashes in proposed project areas. In addition, the proposed hydropower projects may take at least five years to begin supplying electricity. Other short-term solutions to Myanmar’s energy crisis have been proposed. Other ideas include importing energy from neighboring states and even chartering a power generator ship; however, high cost coupled with a lack of asset gain convinced the government to halt these initiatives. Plus, ongoing conflicts in northern and eastern Shan State make it impossible to construct a cross-border power grid to import energy from cheaper sources, such as China and Laos.

Financial Services

Regulatory roadmap needed for banking sector reform The Myanmar Times 13th Sep 2017
Myanmar needs to establish a regulatory roadmap for the banking sector. This will give the local banks more clarity on the progress and timing of upcoming regulations, allowing them to gear up for further reform and growth. “Carrying out regulatory reform at an unmeasured pace can cause trouble,” said Azeem Azimuddin, CFO of Ayeyarwady Bank, during a panel at the 2017 Myanmar Global Investment Forum in Nay Pyi Taw today.

Central Bank issues licence to OK Dollar, but no change to fine print Frontier Myanmar 5th Sep 2017
The Central Bank of Myanmar has issued a Mobile Financial Services licence to OK Dollar, ending uncertainty over the fintech operator’s legal status but in the process raising fresh questions about the application of the licensing process. Daw May Toe Win, deputy director general in the Central Bank’s Financial Institutions Regulation and Anti-Money Laundering Department, confirmed to Frontier that the licence was issued on August 31 under the March 2016 Regulation on Mobile Financial Services.

Myanmar’s First Gold Exchange Center Takes Shape in Yangon The Irrawaddy 5th Sep 2017
Myanmar will have its first official market for gold, gems and metal trading in its commercial capital Yangon this year, said U Khin Maung Han, chairman of the Myanmar Federation of Mining Association. The trade center will be built in Yangon’s Mingalardon Township near Yangon International Airport, U Khin Maung Han said. The association is in the process of discussing land acquisition and security matters with the concerned ministries, he said. “We will build a temporary center near 6th Mile [in Mayangon Township] while the trade center is being built in Mingalardon. We are establishing an official market for the trading of gold, jewelry and gold items and metal,” he told The Irrawaddy.

Yangon allocates additional K47 billion budget The Myanmar Times 5th Sep 2017
U Myint Thanung, regional minister of planning and finance, said the additional budget was necessary  since the original estimated regional budget of K424.2 billion was already fully allocated. “Based on the first five months list, we estimated for the next seven months and found out that K424 billion will not be enough. So we appropriate an additional K47 billion to be used for our projects this fiscal year,” U Myint Thaung said on Friday. The additional budget will come from three sources: K21.2 billion from Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, K19.9 billion from the union government and K6.5 billion from the regional government.

Myanmar to promote trade with ASEAN, China's Hong Kong Xinhua 24th Aug 2017
Myanmar is planning to promote trade with ASEAN countries and China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) by reducing tariffs, official media reported Thursday. In accordance with the statistics of the Ministry of Commerce, Myanmar's trade with ASEAN countries amounted to over 2.6 billion U.S. dollars in the first three months of the current 2017-2018 fiscal year, of which export accounted for 892 million U.S. dollars, while the import took 1.6 billion U.S. dollars. Their trade hit over 9.6 billion U.S. dollars in last FY 2016-17. Meanwhile, the country's trade with China's Hong Kong SAR was 20 million U.S. dollars in first quarter of FY 2017-18 while it was 239 million U.S. dollars in last FY 2016-2017. A plan to set up ASEAN-Hong Kong free trade area is underway. China, South Korea, India and Australia have joined in ASEAN's free trade agreements (FTA) so far. ASEAN FTA aims at promoting local manufacturing industries, increasing ASEAN's competitive edge as a production base in the world market through the elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers and attracting more foreign direct investment to the ASEAN region.

Food & Agriculture

Govt plans OMS for grassroots The Daily Star 19th Sep 2017
With no let-up in the spiraling rice price, the government has planned to expand Open Market Sale of subsidised foodgrains to the upazilas across the country. The sale of rice at Tk 30 per kg was launched on Sunday at divisional and district headquarters to ease the sufferings of hard-pressed consumers when the rice price continued to go up in the retail markets. With its food stock depleted significantly, the government has decided to postpone the distribution of Tk 10 a kg rice among 50 lakh ultra-poor, scheduled for launching today, and divert more rice into the OMS operation.

Negotiations for livestock exports to China underway The Myanmar Times 19th Sep 2017
Myanmar will export buffaloes and cows and other livestock that have been certified free from viruses and disease to China, said U Toe Myint Aung, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Commerce at the 6th Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum held on September 18. The forum was hosted by the Myanmar Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industries (UMFCCI) and Yunnan Provincial General Chamber of Commerce (YPGCC). To avoid the illegal export of livestock across the border, the animals will now be checked by the Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department to be free from viruses. Upon successful negotiations with the Animal Department in Yunnan, China and fulfilling their requirements, the animals will be exported to China, U Toe Myint Aung said.

Thai court orders poultry farm to pay Myanmar workers The Myanmar Times 18th Sep 2017
Thailand's Supreme Court again approved payment of 1.7 million baht in compensation by Thammakaset Thai poultry farm on September 14, according to the Thai-based Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN). “The compensation amount is for all unpaid past wages to the 14 Myanmar workers wronged in the case. They hadn’t been paid their full wages as required by Thai labour laws for years. Workers got all their wages back for all these unpaid years,” MWRN’s president U Aung Kyaw told The Myanmar Times on September 14. He added that the 14 Myanmar workers filed a complaint to the court to be remunerated 44 million baht by the owner of the poultry farm for working in abusive conditions. 

Myanmar turns to marketable crops Eleven Myanmar 18th Sep 2017
Myanmar’s commerce ministry has announced plans to grow crops that can penetrate international markets. Myanmar’s main agricultural exports at the moment are paddy, beans and pulses. Mung beans are a main export to India. However, bean exports have declined recently after India implemented some restrictions. The ministry is discussing the new export plan with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, along with entrepreneurs.

Bangladesh-Myanmar sign MoU on rice trade Myanmar Business Today 18th Sep 2017
Myanmar has signed a memo­randum of un­derstanding (MoU) with Bangladesh for exporting 300,000 tons of rice an­nually. The trade agreement was announced in Nay­pyidaw on September 7 by the Minister of Com­merce, Dr. Than My­int and his Bangladeshi counterpart, Qamrual Is­lam, the Minister of Food. The highly-anticipated MoU is a government to government deal that en­sures the sale of 250,000 tons of white rice and 50,000 tons of parboiled rice to Bangladesh each year from 2017 to 2022.

Coffee exports stimulated by production and demand Myanmar Business Today 18th Sep 2017
Myanmar coffee traders have ex­ported 535 tons of coffee beans this fiscal year, twice as much as the same period the year be­fore, according to statis­tics from the Ministry of Commerce. Last year, the nation exported 860 tons of cof­fee generating $1.438 million. In the first five months of the 2017-2018 fiscal year, exports have generated $1.5 million, as the price of $3,000 to $7,000 per ton, based on quality. Increased demand from Japan and US markets has had significant im­pacts on inflating trade volume, U Myint Soe, Deputy Secretary of Min­istry of Commerce, said.

Ministry bans bean imports Myanmar Business Today 18th Sep 2017
The ministry of Commerce has an­nounced an imme­diate ban on nationwide bean imports, citing a surplus in the domestic market. On August 5, in an effort to stimulate local cultiva­tion and increase agricul­tural self-reliance, India limited bean imports from Myanmar to 200,000 tons from 300,000 tons the year before. This in­cited an initial panic in the market and the start of the infamous 2017 bean surplus. “Based on sufficient de­mand for green pea and other popular legumes, the ministry has been permit­ting bean imports from Ukraine and Canada, at prices ranging from $300 to 400 per ton, which is cheaper than local prices. This will temporarily end,” U Tun Lwin, Chairman of Myanmar Pules, Beans, Sesame Seeds Merchant Associations (MPBSSMA), told Myanmar Business Today.

Farmers decry confiscation of land for civil servant housing project The Myanmar Times 14th Sep 2017
The lands were given to the farmers to plant crops by the government in 1997 under the name “Sein Lan So Pyay Yay” [meaning to be green and lush] but on August 8, the authorities prohibited the farmers from cultivating as a government housing will be constructed in the area, the farmers said. Nine farmers will not be able to pursue their livelihoods as a result of project, and they wanted to discuss with the government so they can be provided with another farmland or alternative jobs, according to U Myo Win, one of the affected farmers.  “I’ve been working for 20 years on this land. And, we’ve cultivated without fail for many years. Now, on the land which we have  planted rice are being filled with and we’re facing lot of damages,” he said. 

Ministers of Agriculture in Mekong agree to step up the cooperation on boosting food safety AKP 8th Sep 2017
Agriculture ministers in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) today endorsed a five-year strategy and action plan to build a region-wide food safety system. According to a news release of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the system will be based on mutually recognised, science-based standards, product tracing, and information sharing, especially on hazard lists for key commodities. ADB hosts the Secretariat of the GMS, which comprises Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China (specifically, Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region), the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

AgriTech accelerator for the Mekong region launched AKP 8th Sep 2017
As the Greater Mekong Subregion countries is conducting its three-day (Sept. 6-8) Second Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting in Siem Reap province, Cambodia, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Australia launched a new agritech accelerator that will harness entrepreneurship and technology to transform the Mekong region’s agriculture industry into a leading global supplier of safe and nutritious food for all. Named MATCh (Mekong Agriculture Technology Challenges), the startup accelerator will support startups in agriculture to develop their products, network and learn from industry players, showcase their solutions, and access markets and funding. It is aimed at innovative early stage agritech startups and traditional agriculture businesses with new, scalable business models in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

GMS ministers endorse strategy to boost food safety in Mekong Xinhua 8th Sep 2017
Agriculture ministers in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) endorsed a five-year strategy and action plan to build a regional food safety system on Friday during a meeting in northwest Cambodia's Siem Reap province. The system will be based on mutually recognized, science-based standards, product tracing and information sharing, especially on hazard lists for key commodities, said the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which organized the meeting. The ADB hosted the Secretariat of the GMS, which comprises Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. "The 2018-2022 GMS Strategy and Siem Reap Action Plan will help us become a leading supplier of safe and environment-friendly agricultural products," said Veng Sakhon, Cambodian Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries.

Bangladesh signs rice export deal Eleven Myanmar 8th Sep 2017
Myanmar and Bangladesh have signed a governmental agreement to export 300,000 tonnes of rice, according to the Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF). “They wanted to buy 1 million tonnes of rice but we advised them to buy 300,000 tonnes of rice. The agreement was signed by officials from our Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry for Food from Bangladesh,” said Vice Chairman Dr Soe Tun of the MRF. “The business will be conducted by the MRF and private companies. No fixed price is included in the agreement. We expected the exports will start in December. We cannot start rice exports now. We will negotiate to fix the price to be level with the market price. We will export Emata rice mainly,” he said.

Switching crops may be difficult for bean farmers Myanmar Times 7th Sep 2017
Those difficulties include uncertain weather conditions and topography and whether or not there is demand for the new crops.  As such, a thorough study of which alternative crops to cultivate is necessary before taking action, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Commerce, U Toe Aung Myint said. He added that it is necessary to ensure that farmers have sufficient knowledge of the demand trends and ensure the process is cost-effective before diving into the cultivation of unfamiliar crops. In that light, the government will conduct a campaign to study the type of crops suitable as substitutions and educate farmers accordingly, Director General of the Department of Agriculture U Ye Tin Tun said.

Yoma, Proximity join hands to boost farm loans Eleven Myanmar 7th Sep 2017
YOMA Bank, Myanmar's fourth-largest bank by assets with more than 3,000 employees and 72 branches across the nation, has signed a funding agreement with Proximity Designs for 7.3 billion kyats (Bt178.5 million), said a bank executive. Hal Bosher, adviser to the chairman and CEO of Yoma Bank, said the partnership with Proximity Designs, which runs its microfinance business unit, Proximity Finance, would support the extension of credit to Myanmar's unbanked population, mostly living in rural areas. The funding agreement was signed on Tuesday. “The development impact of this funding reflects our commitment to support an inclusive financial system and our core value as a responsible bank,” Bosher said.

Struggle in the agriculture sector Myanmar Times 4th Sep 2017
The most affected crops this year have been pulses and beans, rice and sugar. A slew of shocks to demand in Myanmar’s main export markets have precipitated steep price falls in those commodities this year.  Meanwhile, inadequate domestic policies and a lack of alternative destinations in which the crops can be sold have made it difficult for farmers to keep prices stable and stay profitable.  Importantly, Myanmar is learning the hard way that its reliance on single export markets and lack of bilateral trade agreements with other governments can cripple the industry. 

Ministry launches mobile app for crop & consumer safety Myanmar Business Today 4th Sep 2017
The Plant Protec­tion Division under Ministry of Agri­culture, Livestock and Irrigation has recently introduced a mobile ap­plication to promote the effective and safe usage of pesticides on agricultural products. The application, “Plant Protection Mobile Appli­cation" (PP-Verion-1.0), is available on android phones will be upgraded as frequently as the app requires. Since launching just two months ago, the mo­bile application has been downloaded more than 10,000 times. The application allows users to cross reference any brand of pesticides to see if it has been reg­istered with the Ministry and is in fact safe to use.

Food aid suspended as Myanmar state sinks deeper into violence Borneo Bulletin Online 3rd Sep 2017
The World Food Programme (WFP) has suspended food aid in Myanmar’s violence-scorched Rakhine State, as the humanitarian situation deteriorates with a surging death toll and tens of thousands – both Rohingya Muslims and ethnic Buddhists – on the move. Relief agencies, including WFP, have repeatedly been accused by Myanmar authorities of allowing their rations to fall into the hands of Rohingya militants, whose attacks on police posts on August 25 sparked the current violence. Around 120,000 people – most of them Rohingya Muslim civilians – have relied on aid hand-outs in camps since 2012, when riots killed scores and sparked a crisis which is again burning through the state. Over the last five years Rakhine state has been cut along ethnic and religious lines, but the current violence is the worst yet. Aid agencies are routinely accused of a pro-Rohingya bias and the sudden flare-up of unrest has renewed safety concerns, prompting relief work to be pulled back.

Health & Life Sciences

H1N1 flu cases fall sharply in August The Myanmar Times 14th Sep 2017
Seasonal influenza H1N1 infection is significantly going down since August 15, according to health officials.The Ministry of Health and Sports mentions that the current infection rate has caused very few fatalities.

Government launches anti-betel nut campaign The Myanmar Times 12th Sep 2017
Chewing betel nut and using tobacco has become a leading cause of death in the country, the government warned on Monday, as it launched nationwide campaign to stem the social menace.

Reforms in Myanmar pave the way for health care investment Oxford Business Group 31st Aug 2017
Higher state spending and moves to liberalise investment laws should further boost foreign investment in Myanmar’s health care sector, as the country pushes to implement its first development plan for the industry. Arguably the biggest external boost to health care in Myanmar in recent months came with the announcement in June that the World Bank would be extending its Country Partnership Framework (CPF) for another two years. A primary objective of the $1.2bn financing package – whose broad goals also touch on a range of sectors besides health care – will be to invest in social services to improve health and nutrition and reduce poverty.

3 more die in 3 days in Myanmar due to swine flu Xinhua 24th Aug 2017
Three more people have died of seasonal influenza A/H1N1-2009, also known as swine flu, over the past three days, bringing the total death toll to 33 as of Wednesday, official media reported Thursday. More than 300 patients were confirmed for being infected with the virus across the country since the outbreak of the disease on July 21. However, more than 210 patients have already been discharged from hospital after treatment, the report said, adding that the Ministry of Health and Sports has sent rapid respond teams to the affected areas to control the spread of the virus.

Nationwide nutrition survey in September The Myanmar Times 23rd Aug 2017
The survey ‘Myanmar Micronutrient and Food Consumption Survey’ will be implemented in September, said Dr May Khin Than, Director of National Nutrition Center, Department of Public Health. She said, “The survey will take at least four months and it will start after the training program for health workers”. The government-run training program will equip healthcare workers with the skills and tools to gather crucial data on the status of nutrition among seven priority groups: children under five , school-aged children, adolescent girls, men and women between 15 and 49, pregnant women and lactating mothers. Dr Lwin Mar Hlaing, assistant director of National Nutrition Center, Department of Public Health, said that “the survey will analyse the food consumption habits of people and the nutritional problems, and testing for vitamins and minerals”.

China medical teams conduct free eye surgery in Yangon The Myanmar Times 22nd Aug 2017
The project called “Brightness Action” started on August 19  and will last until August 22, according to organisers. Jointly organised by Visakha Foundation, Sitagu Shwe Pyi Hein Eye Hospital and the China Yunnan Province Medical Teams the project was expected to treat 200 cataract patients throughout the country.  The Yunnan People Foreign Friendly Association’s medical teams, includes the Yunnan Friendship Foundation for NGO Network for International Exchanges, the Health and Family Planning Commission of Yunnan Province and the 2nd People’s Hospital of Yunnan Province.

Myanmar: International Humanitarian Access to Rakhine State Must Be Permitted Doctors Without Borders 18th Sep 2017
International humanitarian organizations—including international staff—must be granted immediate, independent, and unfettered access to people in Rakhine state, Myanmar, to alleviate massive humanitarian needs in the region, said the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on Monday. The call for urgent access comes amidst ongoing military operations in Rakhine, which started on August 25 after a new spate of attacks against police stations and a military base claimed by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). As a consequence, more than 400,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh and are living in extremely precarious conditions with limited access to health care, potable water, latrines,  and food. The remaining population in Northern Rakhine, thought to be hundreds of thousands of people, is without any meaningful form of humanitarian assistance.

Starvation risk for 50,000 Rohingya in Myanmar camps as aid stops UCA News 15th Sep 2017
The U.N.'s World Food Program that provides regular food aid to 120,000 Rohingya from internal displaced camps, is working against the clock to deliver basic survival rations to up to 50,000 people that are now three weeks overdue. The disruption of aid activities follows government accusations that aid agencies were supporting insurgents, that led to local contractors refusing to carry food for aid in conflict-torn Rakhine State since Aug. 25.P said on Sept. 12.

Myanmar’s Public Health System and Policy: Improving but Inequality Still Looms Large The Irrawaddy 1st Sep 2017
Myanmar’s entire health system has come a long way since the country’s democratic transition began in 2011. Yet much more still needs to be done. A core area of focus needs to be on addressing inequalities in access to health services across the country. In particular, bridging gaps in service delivery between urban and rural communities and for minority ethnic groups.

H1N1 cases going down, says health officials The Myanmar Times 1st Sep 2017
“The diagnosis of new cases is declining, and the number of deaths remains at 35,” said Dr Than Thun Aung, deputy director general of Department of Public Health. Health officials attributed the declining trend of H1N1 infections to the government’s acceleration of its prevention and response program since the first case was reported. 

FDA seeks to regulate sale of EC pills The Myanmar Times 1st Sep 2017
“The emergency contraceptive (EC) oral pills are just for emergency situation. But people are using it easily and taking it frequently, and misusing it, said Dr Theingi Zin, director of Department of Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Since last year, we had been accelerating our efforts to control substandard and fake drugs. Moreover, unknown medicinal mixtures and prescriptions only medicines will be overseen as the next step to ensure the safety of the public,” Dr Theingi Zin added.

Dengue fever: Myanmar infections quadruple since 2016 Coconuts 29th Aug 2017
The number of dengue fever infections reported in Myanmar this year is four times last year’s number, according to the Public Health Department. There have been 21,288 infections this year up to August 19, while last year, there were just over 5,400 infections during the same period in 2016. Yangon Region has had the highest number of infections this year with a total of 4,519. There were also 2,805 cases in Ayeyawady, 2,259 in Rakhine State, 1,669 in Kayin State, 1,666 in Mon State, 1,665 in Bago Region, 1,500 in Kachin State, 1,148 in Mandalay Region, 787 in Taninthayi Region, 779 in Kayah State, 716 in Shan State, 665 in Sagaing Region, 654 in Magway Region, and 386 cases in Naypyidaw.

China provides emergency aid of swine flu vaccine to Myanmar Xinhua 24th Aug 2017
China provided emergency aid of vaccine against the swine flu to Myanmar on Thursday. The vaccine and other medical equipment worth of 25 million yuan (3.73 million U.S. dollars) was handed over to the Myanmar side at the Yangon International Airport. Speaking at the ceremony, Chinese Ambassador Hong Liang expressed his belief that the medical aid, extended on humanitarian ground, would help in treating the disease.

Insufficient Toilets Pose Risk to Women and Girls The Irrawaddy 23rd Aug 2017
One and a half million people in Myanmar do not have access to a toilet, creating health issues that disproportionally affect women and girls and put them at risk of sexual assault, according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). Three quarters of Myanmar households have direct access to a toilet that hygienically separates human contact with excreta while 16 million people have access to some kind of latrine, according to a 2014 census report released by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) last week. One and a half million people have no access to a toilet at all and defecate and urinate in the open. “For women and girls who have to relieve themselves and manage their menstrual hygiene in the open or in a shared facility, this makes them particularly vulnerable, and puts them at risk of harassment and physical assault, especially after dark,” said UNFPA representative of Myanmar, Janet Jackson.

ICT

Monetising Myanmar's potential The Business Times 6th Sep 2017
Due to years of isolation, the recent opening up of the country presents an opportunity for technology leap-frogging. It also means that the market is ripe for experimenting, and the sizeable population of youths in the country can be fast learners and quick to take to new technologies. The burgeoning information technology (IT) sector is increasingly looking for investments and expertise from foreign companies.

Myanmar among five most exposed countries: Microsoft Eleven Myanmar 3rd Sep 2017
Companies in Myanmar need to ensure cybersecurity, as it is the fourth most exposed country in Asia-Pacific to malicious programmes, according to Microsoft. Microsoft Office365 was launched in Myanmar in January to provide data and cloud security.

Myanmar newcomer preparing 4G-only network Mobile World Live 31st Aug 2017
Myanmar’s fourth mobile operator, MyTel, set the ambitious target of reaching 90 per cent of the country’s population with 4G coverage when it officially launches in Q1 2018. Myanmar’s government awarded the country’s fourth mobile licence to the joint venture in January. Mytel will share infrastructure with state-backed MecTel, a little-known operator which started service in 2013. MyTel counts 2,000 employees in Myanmar.

Low expectations as Pyithu Hluttaw passes Telecoms Law amendments Frontier Myanmar 22nd Aug 2017
The process of amending the Telecommunications Law – including section 66(d) ­– looks set to continue for a while longer, after the Pyithu Hluttaw on August 18 approved changes to the amendment bill that recently passed the Amyotha Hluttaw. While activists and rights groups have called for 66(d) to be scrapped or significantly changed, the amendments being considered by parliament are relatively minimal and unlikely to appease those who oppose the law. The main point of difference between the two house’s proposed changes are related to the maximum jail term. Last month, the Amyotha Hluttaw maintained the current three-year maximum jail term, but made bail available for defendants. In the version approved by the Pyithu Hluttaw last week, lawmakers cut the maximum sentence to two years, making it a bailable offence. The bill has now been sent back to the Amyotha Hluttaw. If an agreement cannot be reached between the two houses, it will be put to a vote in the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, a combined session of the upper and lower houses.

Indonesia

Indonesia sends foreign minister to Myanmar Bangkok Post 4th Sep 2017
Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Sunday sent his foreign minister to Myanmar to urge its government to halt violence against Rohingya Muslims.

Infrastructure

Lack of investment throttles transport infrastructure The Myanmar Times 21st Sep 2017
The country’s transport sector demands US$60 billion in investment in the next 15 or 20 years, according to the Ministry of Transport and Communications. Efforts to develop railways as well as the aviation and maritime infrastructure are frustrated by the lack of investment. U Win Khant, permanent secretary of Ministry of Transport and Communications told The Myanmar Times during the sideline interview at Myanmar Global Investment Forum that the three existing Kawthaung airport in Tanintharyi Region, Mawlamyine airport in Mon State and Heho airport in Shan State are going to be upgraded through a public-private partnership (PPP) system. The Myanmar Global Investment Forum was organised by Euromoney on September 12 and 13 in Nay Pyi Taw.

Hantharwaddy airport priority for government The Myanmar Times 20th Sep 2017
The planned Hantharwaddy International Airport is the only priority in the area of aviation under the National League for Democracy-led government, said U Win Khant, permanent secretary of Ministry of Transport and Communications. He made his comments in relation to the government’s Transport Master Plan during the sideline interview with The Myanmar Times at Myanmar Global Investment Forum. The event was organised by Euromoney on September 12 and 13 in Nay Pyi Taw. The concessional agreement negotiations with the bidding winners is expected to be concluded towards the end of this year and the project is to be completed within five years following the agreement, U Win Khant added.

Myanmar's Rakhine state to construct economic zone Bangkok Post 2nd Sep 2017
Construction of an economic zone dedicated to promoting trade, manufacturing and services in the outskirts of Maungdaw township in northern Rakhine state is expected to start when the current situation in the area has calmed down, a regional minister said. Muangdaw economic zone will commence its construction within this fiscal year when the region has stabilised, state minister for finance, revenue, economics and planning Kyaw Aye Thein told the Myanmar Times. This economic zone is not to be confused with the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the country which are governed under the SEZ law. The zone in Maungdaw is expected to focus on trade with Bangladesh as well as manufacturing, finance and services industries, but will not be designated as an SEZ.

Grab to invest US$100million in Myanmar expansion Marketing Interactive 28th Aug 2017
Grab has announced it will deepen the company’s presence in Myanmar by investing US$100 million over the next three years. The money will allow Grab to strengthen its presence in Yangon and work with local governments to launch its ride-hailing services to other cities across the country. The company also plans to unveil other products from the Grab suite such as GrabPay, moving more people in Myanmar into the digital economy and driving the adoption of mobile payment nationwide. According to the press statement, it works with local banks such as CB Bank and Wave Money to make banking and financial services available to all of its driver partners in Yangon. .

Proposed port and highway to align Ayeyarwady with Belt and Road The Myanmar Times 14th Sep 2017
U Ye Lin from Myanmar Construction and Development Public Co said that a feasibility study is being carried out jointly with South Korea-based Korea Engineering Consultants Corp (KECC) to establish an industrial zone and deep-sea port along the coastline of Ayeyarwady Region.  “The Pathein deep-sea port project is currently being implemented in Ayeyarwady Region. The design will be carried out in a similar approach to the proposed Dawei and Kyaukphyu deep-sea ports. Similar to the two proposed ports, we will construct a deep-sea port in Ayeyarwady Region as well. 

Thilawa’s Myanmar consortium considers joining Kyaukphyu SEZ The Myanmar Times 14th Sep 2017
The fourth annual meeting of the MTSH, a Yangon Stock Exchange-listed (YSX-listed) company, was held at Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon on September 9, where U Win Aung spoke about the long-term plan for the company. “Taking into account the long-term profit/ revenue of the company, we will expand our business beyond Thilawa SEZ. We are examining whether we should invest in Kyaukphyu SEZ. "

Myanmar mulls reforms to meet infrastructure funding- Nikkei Asian Review 14th Sep 2017
With Myanmar mired in the Rohingya humanitarian crisis and few signs of any short-term solution, Aung San Suu Kyi's government is struggling to maintain recent efforts to shore up the economy as uncertainty assails investment confidence and domestic sentiment. The government is facing an international outcry over its handling of the Rohingya refugee crisis, triggered by the brutal military response to attacks on police and military facilities in the country's western Rakhine State by Rohingya militants on Aug. 25. Further pressure on Naypyitaw is likely to result from the United Nations General Assembly which opened this week in New York. Some countries are contemplating a resolution critical of Myanmar's handling of the Rohingya refugee crisis.

State Counsellor stresses Belt and Road needs to align national priorities The Myanmar Times 28th Aug 2017
Local analysts and commentators in Myanmar have spelt out some of the benefits and risks of Myanmar’s participation in Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 as “One Belt, One Road”, the initiative involves China underwriting billion-dollar investments, mainly in physical infrastructure, in countries along the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, creating an extensive trade network by linking the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa. The financial commitment illustrates the ambition: China is spending roughly US$150 billion a year in the 68 countries which have signed on to the project. While President Xi announced his grand plan when he visited Kazakhstan and Indonesia in 2013, the BRI did not attract the attention of the government, private sector and media in Myanmar until State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi paid a visit to the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in the Chinese capital in May.

DHL invests B2.7bn in supply chain Bangkok Post 23rd Aug 2017
DHL Supply Chain, the world's leading logistics service provider, will invest 2.7 billion baht over the next three years to grow its footprint in this region. The outlay is specifically earmarked for Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar where the firm, part of Deutsche Post DHL Group, wants to tap growing logistics demand. The investment will go towards building new warehouse facilities, expanding its fleet of trucks, and introduction of new technology. That is expected to boost the company's combined warehouse space in those countries to 1.44 million square metres by 2020, creating 7,000 more jobs for a total of 17,000, said Kevin Burrell, chief executive of DHL Supply Chain for the Thailand cluster, which includes neighbouring states.

Insurance

Why Myanmar’s Insurance Market is the Next Big Thing The Diplomat 18th Sep 2017
Myanmar’s insurance market currently remains closed to foreign insurers, but this is soon set to change. Like banking before it, it is predicted that the Myanmar’s insurance market will be liberalized sometime this year. This presents enormous opportunities but also enormous challenges. Currently, there are 24 foreign insurers with representative offices in Myanmar, which in turn means there will be a scramble when licenses are granted for a predicted $2 billion in premiums by 2030.

Malaysia

DPM denies arbitrary issuance of UNHCR card for Rohingyas Malay Mail Online 29th Aug 2017
Malaysia will not arbitrarily issue the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) card to the Rohingyas who have sought refuge in the country, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said this was to avoid Malaysia and its people from being overburdened with a flood of Rohingyas fleeing the ethnic clashes in Myanmar. The decision to deny arbitrary granting of the refugee card to the Rohingyas had the cooperation of the UNHCR itself, he said to reporters after handing over sacrificial cows for Aidiladha in his parliamentary constituency of Bagan Datuk, here, today.

Manufacturing

Chinese car manufacturer expands to Mandalay The Myanmar Times 22nd Sep 2017
Chinese manufacturer expects the production of seven types of cars to commence in Mandalay Industrial Zone in the near future, according to Yan Yu, Shining Star International Holdings (SSIHL) chair. SSIHL is involved in real estate, hospitality, property management, education, healthcare and tourism related enterprises in China and Myanmar. The exact location within the Mandalay Industrial Zone has already been chosen for the production and assembling of vehicles. The application form for the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) is being drafted, Mr Yu said at the China-Myanmar Economic Cooperation Forum.

Vietnam

Myanmar and Vietnam boost ties, forge comprehensive cooperative partnership The Myanmar Times 28th Aug 2017
The joint statement, issued at the end of the 3-day visit, called Trong’s trip a historic milestone in the two countries’ relations that led to the agreement. The agreement would strengthen the pillars of bilateral ties: political relations, defence and security cooperation, economic cooperation, cultural and social cooperation, people-to-people exchanges and other fields of shared concern, and regional and international cooperation. In addition, they also agreed to enhance political ties through mutual visits and meetings at all levels, including economy, culture and science and technology. To strengthen connectivity between the two economies, they pledged to prioritise cooperation in transport infrastructure and tourism while expanding links in agriculture and forestry, telecommunications and banking. They also agreed to foster cooperation in information and communications technology and telecommunications.