Military opposes former general U Shwe Mann’s commission, again Frontier Myanmar 1st Mar 2018
Military lawmakers have against opposed extending the mandate of a parliamentary commission led by ex-general Thura U Shwe Mann, continuing a long-running feud with the former parliamentary speaker. In a coordinated display of protest, members of the military stood to show their opposition when the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw was asked yesterday to extend the mandate of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Legal Affairs and Special Cases Assessment Commission by 12 months. The proposal still passed easily due to the National League for Democracy’s large majority, but military lawmakers said afterwards that the commission’s activities were “illegal”. Lieutenant-Colonel Myo Htet Win said the commission had been drafting and amending laws, and submitting them to parliamentary bodies, so its authority was “overlapped” with that of the bill committees.
Myanmar parliament extends term of legal affairs, special cases assessment commission Xinhua 1st Mar 2018
Myanmar's union parliament has extended the term of the legislative body's Legal Affairs and Special Cases Assessment Commission, led by U Shwe Mann, former Speaker of the House of Representatives (Lower House). According to an announcement of the parliament issued late Wednesday, the term of the commission was extended by one more year starting from March 1. The commission was formed on March 1, 2016 with 35 members as an advisory review commission to the Union Parliament, with assignment to report to the parliament about legal issues or special cases that may arise. The five-year-term newly-elected Union Parliament under the leadership of the National League for Democracy, which won the 2015 general election, started on Feb. 1, 2016.
Myanmar to hold 21st century Panglong peace conference in late April or early May - Xinhua | English.news.cn Xinhua 1st Mar 2018
Myanmar has planned to hold the third meeting of the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference in late April or early May, according to a decision of the 7th Joint Implementation Coordination Meeting (JICM) on the nationwide ceasefire agreement late Wednesday. State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, in her capacity of the chairperson of the National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC), urged the participants to take part in the discussions with confidence. "It is not helpful to have doubts about building a federal union without taking part in the peace process and discussing a federal system that is suitable for Myanmar," she said, encouraging negotiation between the armed forces and the ethnic armed organizations (EAO) and calling on the EAOs to sit down and accept the invitation.
EU faces sanction dilemma over Myanmar Financial Times 26th Feb 2018
Officials meeting in Brussels will task Federica Mogherini, EU foreign policy chief, to draw up a proposed list of Myanmar military officers to sanction over the brutal crackdown on Rohingya Muslims. Separately, they will also warn Cambodia’s government of possible countermeasures if it tightens its clampdown on political opposition. The penalties could affect the “everything but arms” preferential trade deal the kingdom and garment manufacturing hub has with the EU. The Myanmar action is a reversal — critics say too long delayed — of a policy of courting the country’s still hugely powerful military after Aung San Suu Kyi’s government came to power in 2016. Min Aung Hlaing, the armed forces chief, has visited several European countries and was a guest of the EU’s military committee in November 2016.
Rohingya in 'no man's land' to be sent back to Myanmar CNN 21st Feb 2018
Bangladesh had argued that Myanmar should take them back as they hadn't yet crossed the border after fleeing violence in Myanmar's Rakhine State. "After Tuesday's meeting, the Myanmar side (accepted) our position, and agreed to take steps to repatriate and resettle these people," Bangladesh's Relief and Refugee Repatriation Commissioner Mohammed Abul Kalam told CNN. Kalam, the Bangladeshi commissioner, said the people trapped in no man's land would be moved as part of a United Nations-supported repatriation effort to return the Rohingya Muslims back to Myanmar, though no timeline was given. The UN estimates there are roughly 5,300 people stranded between the two countries. Exact figures aren't known because the refugees haven't gone through a verification process.The United Nations refugee agency said Tuesday that representatives of the stranded group had indicated they fear returning to Myanmar and said that "people who have fled violence in their country must be guaranteed safety and protection, and must be consulted on their future."
A Bombing in Northern Myanmar Signals Strife Beyond the Rohingya NT Times 21st Feb 2018
A bomb exploded at a bank in northern Myanmar on Wednesday, killing at least two people and wounding 22 others, military officials said. The explosion occurred in the often lawless city of Lashio, in northern Shan State, which has been torn apart by ethnic strife and battles to control smuggling networks. Yoma Bank, one of Myanmar’s largest commercial banks, confirmed that two of its employees, Ma Maw Maw and Ma Sandar Tun, had been killed. “I heard the bomb blast and it felt like it also exploded my house,” said Min Nyunt, whose home is next to the Yoma Bank branch where the bomb went off. “Almost all of the bank has been destroyed.” No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing, but such violence occasionally strikes Myanmar’s frontier region, where armed groups from a patchwork of ethnic minorities, including the Kachin, the Shan, the Ta’ang and the Wa — have battled the Myanmar military for decades.
Myanmar military signs ceasefire agreement with two opposition groups | Jane's 360 IHS Jane 20th Feb 2018
Two opposition groups have joined a ceasefire pact with the Myanmar armed forces (Tatmadaw), restoring some credibility to a complex peace process with an array of ethnic rebel forces that had been stalled for more than two years. The New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Lahu Democratic Union (LDU) signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in a 13 February ceremony held in Naypyidaw presided over by Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, who has prioritised her administration’s commitment to the peace process. The NMSP and LDU are the first groups to sign the pact since Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) won elections in November 2015 and inherited the NCA as the centre piece of a limping peace process initiated under the previous government of president Thein Sein, a retired general.
After Targeted Sanctions, It’s Time to Engage With Myanmar’s Moderates The Diplomat 8th Feb 2018
The sudden and dramatic resignation of high-profile U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson from Aung San Suu Kyi’s international advisory panel on Rakhine state is a stark reminder of the fraught circumstances surrounding the civilian government’s mismanagement of Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis. It should also serve as a clarion call for U.S. policymakers struggling to maintain leverage as the country teeters on the verge of a return to military dictatorship. In late January, Bangladesh and Myanmar announced that they would postpone a repatriation process they had agreed to in November. Bangladesh insisted that the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) be involved in verifying that resettlement conforms with international law and protects the rights and safety of over 600,000 displaced Rohingya.
Hatred and despair in an ancient kingdom BBC News 8th Feb 2018
Climbing a small, scrubby hill behind the little riverside town of Mrauk U, a dreamy landscape reveals itself, of centuries-old stupas wreathed in mist, dotted with farming communities. Anywhere else this spectacular monument would surely be overrun by tourists. But in Mrauk U just a handful of foreigners have dozens of Buddhist temples to themselves. The site lies in Rakhine state, an isolated region at the western corner of Myanmar, with poor infrastructure and, in recent years, terrible headlines.
Molotov Cocktail Thrown at Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s Residence The Irrawaddy 1st Feb 2018
The Yangon residence of Myanmar’s State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Bahan Township came under attack on Thursday morning while she was in Naypyitaw. According to initial reports, a man threw a bottle of petrol into the compound of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s residence No. 54 on University Avenue Road between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. on Thursday. “It took place around 6:30 at dawn. As far as I know, he threw a Molotov cocktail over the wall into her compound and ran away,” U Thaung Htut, a Bahan Township lawmaker, told The Irrawaddy.
How the Suu Kyi-Richardson Clash Unfolded The Irrawaddy 1st Feb 2018
When State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson met again late last month, a public row was probably the last thing these two old friends expected. Their friendship dates back to 1994, when she was under house arrest and he was one of the first visitors outside of her immediate family that she received. Since 2012, Richardson’s Center for Global Engagement has conducted multi-party political and governance training in Myanmar. When Richardson was among five prominent international figures appointed to the Advisory Board for the Committee for Implementation of the Recommendations on Rakhine State last year, the 71-year-old was a natural choice. Given his long involvement with and apparent knowledge of Myanmar, his credentials seemed sound.
Thilawa's Daizen pioneers Myanmar’s logistics liberalisation The Myanmar Times 20th Feb 2018
Defense & Security
Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) positions itself as the manufacturing and logistics hub, as an SEZ-based company starts providing bonded warehouse services to both domestic and international companies. Such logistics liberalisation will boost Thai-Myanmar cross-border trade and hence accelerate Myanmar's integration with the regional economy. Daizen Myanmar, a logistics company from Japan which joined Thilawa in 2015, recently launched the country's first ever bonded warehouse services to both local businesses and foreign suppliers. "In 2015, I said that Daizen chose Thilawa SEZ as the location of our first ASEAN investment on the advice of representatives from one of the leading Japanese trading houses.
In big win for defence ministry, Army to retain control of Myanmar border The Week 1st Mar 2018
The defence ministry has appeared to have won a decisive battle against the home ministry over control of security on the India-Myanmar border (IMB). For the last eight years, the home ministry has been lobbying to take control of the Myanmar border, with India claiming Myanmar had become a den for terrorists and the BSF would use its expertise of guarding the border with Bangladesh and a part of the Pakistan border to control infiltration across India-Myanmar border. The Myanmar border is presently being guarded by the Assam Rifles, which is commanded by the Indian Army from the Eastern Command headquarters in Kolkata. The former chiefs of both Assam Rifles—which is in charge of internal security of the northeast as well—and BSF had declared in 2014 that all processes were being done and even a date was being finalised to hand over border management of the Indo-Myanmar border to BSF.
UN: North Korea Sends Banned Equipment to Syria, Myanmar VOA 28th Feb 2018
An unpublished United Nations report says that North Korea sent materials that could be used in chemical weapons to Syria and missile technology to Myanmar. Both exchanges, if true, would be violations of UN Security Council resolutions. The report says the materials sent to Syria included thermometers and special valves. The document also says that North Korea made at least 40 shipments of materials to Syria between 2012 and 2017. The Associated Press says the UN report could be made public in the middle of March. The report contains the findings of eight UN experts. They are observing UN sanctions against North Korea. Some details of the report have been released as fighting in the Ghouta area of Damascus has intensified and the number of civilian dead grows.
Japan affirms military ties with Tatmadaw The Myanmar Times 10th Feb 2018
Japan has affirmed its defence cooperation with Myanmar despite international criticism of the country’s government and military over the handling of the northern Rakhine crisis. Kentaro Sonoura, special adviser to the Japanese prime minister on national security, said Japan believes the Tatmadaw “has an important role in consolidating democracy in Myanmar.” “Japan is conducting defence cooperation and exchange by accepting cadets from the Tatmadaw for the National Defence Academy of Japan. “(It is) exchanging officers and supporting capacity-building in various areas, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” he said in an interview published Thursday in the government newspaper The Global New Light of Myanmar.
Indonesia to help Myanmar deal with terrorism Channel NewsAsia 8th Feb 2018
Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Security, Law and Political Affairs Wiranto said Jakarta will help Myanmar in coping with the possible emergence of terrorism in that country, Antara news agency reported on Wednesday (Feb 7). Myanmar has voiced concern over the threat of Islamic State-linked militants slipping into the country alongside the return of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh, Wiranto said. "We want to help by sharing our knowledge and experience to prevent terrorists from establishing new bases in the region," he said on Wednesday.
What’s Behind Myanmar’s Big New Military Exercise? The Diplomat 8th Feb 2018
The holding of the first tri-service exercise in over two decades needs to be viewed from a broader perspective. From February 2 to 4, Myanmar’s military carried out their first tri-service exercise in over two decades. The drills reinforce the military’s determination to advance its modernization even amid continued international scrutiny over its behavior. In recognition of this reality, Myanmar’s military chief Min Aung Hlaing has sought to further develop and modernize the institution into what he has recently been terming a “standard army,” with a variety of steps including acquiring new weapons, building relationships with foreign militaries, and trying to improve areas like recruitment and training.
Congress calls for Myanmar officers to be booted from U.S. humanitarian drills Think Progress 8th Feb 2018
U.S. lawmakers are calling for the exclusion of Myanmar’s military from U.S.-led defense drills in Thailand, bordering the country on the east. Officers from Myanmar were invited to observe humanitarian assistance exercises at the Cobra Gold drills on February 13, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. Myanmar has been engaged in a bloody campaign against the Rohingya Muslim minority in the country since August. While the Rohingya, who have no citizenship rights, have been subject to decades of abuse in the Buddhist majority country, the most recent crackdowns — now being investigated as genocide — have resulted in thousands of deaths, mass rapes, and starvation. The majority of the 1.1 million Rohingya who once lived in Myanmar have fled, with nearly 700,000 now living in camps in Bangladesh, which neighbors Myanmar on its western border. The United States has imposed sanctions on a few Myanmar officials, but stayed away from the kind of wide-reaching sanctions it has imposed on Iran, North Korea, and Cuba.
Myanmar's place at US military drills in Asia draws ire ABC News 7th Feb 2018
Lawmakers are demanding Myanmar's exclusion from U.S.-led military exercises in neighboring Thailand next week amid pressure for more American sanctions in response to atrocities against Rohingya Muslims. Myanmar's planned participation in the Cobra Gold exercise, which starts Feb. 13, comes as its security forces are accused of killing hundreds if not thousands of civilians and burning down villages after Rohingya militant attacks last summer. More than 680,000 Rohingya — loathed in majority Buddhist Myanmar and denied citizenship — have fled to Bangladesh, joining hundreds of thousands more already sheltering there.
Samsung pulls the plug on Myanmar: Korean media The Myanmar Times 1st Mar 2018
South Korean multinational Samsung Electronics has reportedly “made a final decision” not to build a manufacturing plant in Myanmar due to the lack of infrastructure, the government’s inaction on economic reforms, anxiety on a worsening bureaucracy and political uncertainties. An academic argued that the Samsung episode is indicative of the Myanmar problems for Western investors and corporations. The Korea Times reported that sources from Samsung, including a Myanmar-based source from the firm, said that Nay Pyi Taw has continued to ask them to invest and build in the country over recent years, and they have reviewed the situation before coming to the decision, which was made after a recent country visit by Samsung executives.
Myanmar Received $5 Bn in Foreign Investment in Current Fiscal Year The Irrawaddy 14th Feb 2018
Myanmar has received more than US$5.1 billion in foreign investment in the current 2017-18 fiscal year from April to the first week of February, according to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA). “We have received more than $4.4 billion in foreign investment as of the first week of February, while existing foreign businesses have increased their investment by nearly $700 million,” said U Than Aung Kyaw, deputy director general of DICA. “They have increased investment perhaps because they are doing good business. According to international norms, businesses usually add up to nearly 60 percent of their existing investment. But in our country, $700 million is only between 10 to 15 percent,” he added. The investment goes to manufacturing, transportation and communications, agriculture, livestock and fisheries, animal feed, electricity, oil and gas, property development, hotels and tourism and the service industry, according to DICA.
In Myanmar, private sector under pressure to stand with Rohingya Devex 8th Feb 2018
Activists are once again looking to Unilever, a major investor in Myanmar, to take a stand against the country’s persecution of the Rohingya minority. Last week, a global civil society group known as Sisters of Rohingya issued a call for a boycott of Unilever’s Dove products, which the group notes are closely tied to the company’s projected brand of valuing the health and well-being of women. “Unilever tells us women that as a corporation they have respect for our lives and are committed to our equality,” the statement on their website reads.
Myanmar investors betting on the crypto-bubble Frontier Myanmar 8th Feb 2018
Local enthusiasts and speculators are navigating scammers and payment problems to plough their money into cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. MA SU MYAT THANDAR spent nine years training to be a doctor: six years of study at the University of Medicine (Mandalay), a one-year internship at Mandalay General Hospital and two years of tenure in Lashio. And then she gave it all up.
American chamber gets ready for business The Myanmar Times 8th Feb 2018
AmCham Myanmar, established in October 2013, has more than 170 members, which employ over 6,000 Myanmar nationals in total. It seeks to connect American business in Myanmar by encouraging partnerships and promoting high business standards. Until 2017, AmCham Myanmar operated as a Myanmar chapter under AmCham Thailand, with administration managed from Bangkok and only one staff on the ground in Myanmar. In September last year, AmCham Myanmar was officially registered with the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) as a non-profit association. Subsequently, Zara Dang became the executive director, a new 11-member board of governors was elected by the membership and the organisation has moved into its new permanent office in Sule Square.
Pristine Ayeyarwady coastline flagged for new $10bn industrial zone Frontier Myanmar 7th Feb 2018
One needs to travel just a few miles north of Chaung Tha, one of Myanmar’s most popular beach destinations, off the west coast of Ayeyarwady Region, to find a cleaner, quieter and more secluded spot. There are only 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) between Chaung Tha and Shwe Thaung Yan but the road is unpaved, and can only be travelled by motorbike. Shwe Thaung Yan, and the surrounding Wetthay-Metta bay area, is isolated from Chaung Tha by the Magyee Creek, which can only be crossed by a small boat. At the end of the last rainy season, work began on a bridge over the creek, with completion expected by the end of March.
Foreign trade volume reaches over US$26 billion until end of January Eleven Myanmar 6th Feb 2018
Myanmar’s foreign trade volume has reached more than US$26 billion within ten months of the 2017-2018 FY, a source of the Ministry of Commerce said. Foreign trade volume has reached US$26,551.361 million from April 1 to January 26 of the 2017-2018 FY, up US$3,973.539 million compared to the same period of last year. Until February 26, Myanmar realized US$19,971.881 million of foreign trade volume from the maritime route and US$6,579.480 million of foreign trade volume from the border route. The maritime trade volume has reached $ US$19,971.881 million, up US$3,682.869 million compared to the same period of last year. The border trade volume has reached US$6,579.480 million, compared to the same period of last year.
Prominent US law firm quits on Myanmar Asia Times 5th Feb 2018
American lawyer Eric Rose has promoted foreign investment in Myanmar during his five years as director of Herzfeld Rubin Meyer & Rose. The American law firm was the first to open an office in Yangon back in 2013, a time when the country was just beginning to open its doors to the West after decades of isolation. On February 1, in a surprising reversal, the firm announced it was closing its office. Launched with the help of Myanmar lawyers Andrew Lian, an advisor to former President Thein Sein, and Kyaw Hoe, an advisor to State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, the well-connected firm has helped to draft new legislation and rules, set markers for commercial litigation and trained several Myanmar attorneys over the past five years.
China and Myanmar launch poverty reduction project The Myanmar Times 5th Feb 2018
A model project for rural poverty reduction with financial and technical assistance from China was launched in Lewe and Tatkon townships in Nay Pyi Taw last week, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation said in a statement. The agreement was signed during the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in November, Union Minister U Aung Thu said during the launching ceremony on Thursday. The project includes social infrastructure development, vocational training, income generation and capacity-building assistance for residents of Minbyin village in Lewe township and Aye Chanthar village in Tatkon township. China has provided a total of 33.33 million yuan (US$5.31 million/K7.06 billion) in assistance for the project, he added.
Singapore makes largest investments in real estate sector Mizzima 2nd Feb 2018
Singapore made an investment of US$1.72 billion in 31 projects, as of the end of December, in the current fiscal year (FY), followed by China, with estimated investments worth more than $1.29 billion in 50 enterprises State media reported. Singapore made the largest investments in the real estate sector. some European countries also invested in Myanmar through singapore. The Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) has granted approvals to 176 projects with foreign capital of $4.78 billion this FY. Foreign direct investments were pumped into manufacturing, agriculture, livestock and fisheries, and power, as well as transport and communication, hotel and tourism, real estate, industrial estate and other service sectors, the report said.
200,000 jobs created under NLD: government The Myanmar Times 1st Feb 2018
During the first 21 months of the National League for Democracy (NLD) government’s tenure, 200,000 jobs were created in the foreign and local investment sectors, said U Maung Maung Win, deputy Planning and Finance minister. “The government authorised 447 businesses and created 191,409 job opportunities,” he said on Tuesday. The Myanmar Investment Commission allowed 138 foreign direct investments in the last fiscal year, which helped create 88,038 jobs, and 80 local investments led to 18,639 jobs created in the country, he added.
Does Myanmar’s LNG power plan stack up? Frontier Myanmar 8th Feb 2018
JANUARY 30 was the biggest day for Myanmar’s power sector in many years. At a ceremony in Nay Pyi Taw, the government green-lighted four private sector projects that, if implemented, would double the country’s generation capacity over the next four years. Since taking office in March 2016, the National League for Democracy government has been accused of dragging its feet on the country’s power problem. But U Win Khaing’s ascension as minister for electricity and energy and the realisation that the next election is less than three years away appears to have focused minds in the government and NLD.
Government considering use of LNG to meet electricity target The Myanmar Times 8th Feb 2018
The Myanmar government will consider using liquefied natural gas (LNG) to generate power and meet the current shortage of electricity in Myanmar, U Win Khine, minister at the Ministry of Electricity and Energy (MOEE), said during a meeting to raise electricity distribution on Saturday.As it will be the first time Myanmar is using LNG to generate power, new power plants will need to be constructed, U Win Khine said. Two LNG-powered plants are now being built in Tanintharyi Region and Ayeyarwaddy Region. When complete, the plants will generate an additional 1,230 megawatts and 1,390MW of power, respectively. The move will help the government meet its goal of generating around 3,000MW of additional power within the next three years, or by 2020-21.
Total to develop LNG project, continue offshore production work in Myanmar The Myanmar Times 7th Feb 2018
Myanmar is planning to double the supply of electricity in the country over the next two years with power generated by liquefied natural gas (LNG) to meet an expected domestic shortfall. Last month, the Ministry of Electricity and Energy issued a “Notice to Proceed” to investors in four gas projects, which will collectively add 3,000 megawatts of power to the national grid by 2020. Three projects, one each in Kan Pauk in Tanintharyi Region, Mee Laung Gaing in Ayeyarwady Region, and Ahlone in Yangon Region, will involve LNG imports, while the fourth, in Kyaukphyu, Rakhine State, will be for natural gas. It is the first time the government has allowed the importing of LNG into Myanmar. To enable LNG imports, French oil company Total, together with German conglomerate Siemens, will build an LNG facility with 1,230MW of power capacity in Kan Pauk.
Energy firms head for the exit as offshore blocks hit hurdles Frontier Myanmar 5th Feb 2018
LOW OIL and gas prices are prompting many foreign energy firms that flocked to Myanmar in the wake of economic reforms to downsize their holdings and even exit the country completely. Frontier has confirmed through interviews with industry sources and company officials that almost half of the offshore blocks awarded in a 2014 tender have been relinquished. Companies including Shell, Reliance Industries and Norway’s Statoil have all decided to hand back blocks, although some have retained acreage with more promising development prospects.
Insurance coverage needed as banks expand The Myanmar Times 1st Mar 2018
The recent bomb explosion at a Yoma Bank branch and robbery at Kanbawza (KBZ) Bank branch have highlighted the need for banks to acquire insurance for protection against unforeseen risks at a time when banks are expanding across Myanmar. In January, more than K90 million was stolen when KBZ Bank in Myitkyina, Kachin State, was robbed. This month, two Yoma Bank employees were killed and 22 injured during a bomb blast in Lashio, Shan State. Both incidents were not covered by insurance, The Myanmar Times understands. Yet, such incidences pose threats to the financial sector even as banks are opening more branches in new areas in a race for market share in the country. Clearly though, the risks involved in expanding in restive states like Shan and Kachin are high. As such, having the appropriate insurance policies to protect against those risks is both useful and necessary.
Challenging the dominance of cash in Myanmar ASEAN Today 28th Feb 2018
Cash is still dominant in Myanmar. Despite the governmental reforms in 2017, cash is still the preferred payment method. That could be about to change. Myanmar is ready to buck the trend. It could move straight from cash to mobile payments without adopting card payments. Card payments are struggling to take off in Myanmar. As of 2017, only 0.5% of transactions were carried out electronically. Only 10% of the population have a bank account. Financial exclusion is high. The financial climate does not immediately lend itself to card payment solutions. In January 2017, the government opened Myanmar up to international payment companies. Companies like Mastercard and Visa began providing credit cards in the local currency. The government hoped the arrival of international companies would spur collaboration. The larger companies would share their human capital and experience with local banks. The government anticipated that this collaboration would spur growth and drive innovation.
Start-ups, SMEs call for greater access to loans by foreign banks The Myanmar Times 20th Feb 2018
Start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are now calling for equal treatment of foreign and local banks as this will give them more options to borrow money for growth. The development arrives after the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) said it would not be reducing the high lending rates charged by local banks that deter many from taking loans.
Local banks struggle to meet CBM regulations amid slower economy The Myanmar Times 15th Feb 2018
Under a new Financial Institutions Law, the CBM has ordered banks to maintain higher capital adequacy ratios, limit lending exposure to single borrowers, reclassify loans and advances and recover overdraft loans. Drafted with assistance from the International Monetary Fund, the regulations are in line with international Basel III standards.
ADB issues guide to local bond market Khmer Times 2nd Feb 2018
Food & Agriculture
Aiming to inject momentum into their nascent debt markets, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) released yesterday bond market guides for Cambodia and Myanmar. Titled ‘ASEAN+3 bond market guide’, the publications provide practical and detailed information on the investment climate, rules, laws, opportunities, and characteristics of the bond markets of the two Southeast Asian countries.
Myanmar to adopt genomic rice breeding practices with JICA support The Myanmar Times 13th Feb 2018
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Myanmar’s agricultural research department are set to implement a genomic rice breeding initiative. U Naing Kyi Win, director general of the Department of Agricultural Research (DAR) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI), and JICA signed a Record of Discussions (R/D) in Nay Pyi Taw on January 30 to launch a five-year project to strengthen rice breeding based on genomic technology. The representative from JICA was Kenichi Shishido, director general of the DAR. This JICA-funded project will introduce paddy genetic breeding to the country in order to develop high-yield and pest and disease-tolerant rice varieties. In the five-year span, research institutions in both countries will carry out joint activities to create promising rice lines suitable to rain-fed lowlands and uplands, as well as to enhance Myanmar’s existing breeding method. On the Japanese side, the agriculture faculty at Kyushu University and the bioscience and biotechnology centre at Nagoya University are involved. JICA Myanmar told The Myanmar Times that agriculture is the most important sector for the country’s economy, and rice is the main crop for the majority of the population as staple food of daily consumption and as earning source of foreign exchange. Rice is the most important cereal in terms of food security here as it supplies more than half of the calories consumed by the national population. Hence scaling up rice production is a priority for Nay Pyi Taw. While numerous high-yield rice varieties suitable to arable land have already been introduced, only 20 percent of Myanmar’s agricultural land planted with rice is irrigated, according to data from MOALI as of 2012. In order to secure stability in rice production, the sector should develop varieties adaptable to unfavourable cultivation environments, such as rain-fed lowlands. The project will employ DNA marker-assisted selection techniques in rice breeding and upgrade those varieties by introducing traits such as disease resistance and pest resistance. This approach will also be used to support the development of promising lines even at the research farms located in rain-fed lowlands and uplands. As a result, new rice varieties, resistant to disease and insects and having high yields even in environments such as rain-fed paddy fields, will be created and widely used to improve the production level and thus farmer income. JICA Myanmar further added that the tropical monsoon climate means a huge potential in increasing paddy production. The country, as British Burma, was for one time the largest rice exporter in Asia. Its rice export peaked during the 1930s, when the country sold over 3 million tonnes abroad. But now the sector is severely short of finance, expertise and machinery to modernise and reform. The productivity of rice grain has lagged behind neighbouring countries for decades. This is mainly due to low productivity from rain-fed lowlands which are said to account for 48 percent of Myanmar’s rice farms. Currently, Nay Pyi Taw has earmarked efforts to build up research capacity building, and upgrade irrigation facilities as well as other production infrastructures, introduce agricultural machinery and fertiliser, disseminate agricultural technologies and develop better rice varieties. JICA Myanmar said that, beyond reforming the agriculture sector to provide stability in supply for domestic demand, the project will help expand overseas market and support the national rice export strategy. Demand for rice produced in Myanmar has risen to its highest level in 50 years in the current 2017-18 fiscal year, with rice exports estimated to have increased to around 2.5-8 million tonnes compared to the previous estimate of 2.2 million tonnes, according to U Khin Maung Lwin, assistant secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, last December.
Saudi Arabia suspends fish imports from Myanmar The Myanmar Times 20th Feb 2018
Saudi Arabia’s general authority for food and medicine suspended aquaculture products from Bangladesh , India, Myanmar and Vietnam, according to the Saudi Aquaculture Society. This suspension is made in accordance with the regulatory procedures issued by the Food and Drug Authority (FDA). An delegation from several regulators from Saudi Arabia conducted an inspection tour last month targeting Vietnamese facilities that export to the country. The delegation found that only nine facilities met the national hygiene requirements, according to Vietnam news reports.
Agricultural apps ploughing the way for farmers in Myanmar The ASEAN Post 20th Feb 2018
According to the World Bank, the Asian region supports the food demands of 60 percent of the global population by using just 23 percent of the world’s agricultural land. Due to an increasing population and decreasing land mass, the role of technology in agriculture is key. This is where the booming start up scene in Southeast Asia could come in handy for farmers. Some developers have seen the potential of using mobile app technology as a means to revolutionize the agricultural sector by creating apps specifically for it. These apps have the potential to help farmers utilise and maximise their limited resources for a better yield of crops. Farmers in Myanmar – what are they using? In Myanmar, the agricultural sector accounts for some 28 percent of the country's GDP, but yields are low due to farmers being cut-off from modern technology under the previous regime for decades. Farmers in Myanmar are still among the country's poorest. A 2017 World Bank study found that farmers in some areas of the country still earn as little as US$2 per day. Compared to other rice-yielding nations in the region, rice paddy generation is also low in Myanmar at 23kg a day as opposed to Cambodia (62kg), Vietnam (429kg), and Thailand (547kg) respectively, a 2016 World Bank report stated.
Myanmar rice export hits record high in 60 years Eleven Myanmar 16th Feb 2018
Myanmar's rice export this financial year has reached a record high in over 60 years, said Sai Kyaw, central executive committee member of Myanmar Rice Federation. Currently, Myanmar exports rice to more than 50 countries and nearly 3 million tons have been exported this fiscal year. In the previous years, a maximum of 1.8 million tons of rice were exported.
YCDC profits from farm production, leasing activities The Myanmar Times 12th Feb 2018
Yangon Region draws profits every year from its farms and other means of production, Yangon Mayor U Maung Maung Soe said at a Yangon Regional Parliament session last week. Since 2001-02, Yangon residents have enjoyed affordable access to rice, fish, eggs, poultry, meat and vegetables produced by farms operated by the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC). There are currently 12 such YCDC farms in Yangon. Since farming operations started, the YCDC has cultivated over 4,000 acres of paddy and harvested over 1,000 acres of crops every year. It also operates 3,000 fish farms, while prawn and shrimp farms occupy 250 acres of land around Yangon. The YCDC also bred around 90,000 hens, U Maung Maung Soe said. The produce is sold to Yangon residents at affordable prices.
Yangon to get three fish-farming zones Eleven Myanmar 11th Feb 2018
The Fisheries Department will establish three livestock breeding zones for the production of international-standard marine products in three townships in Yangon in 2018-2019 fiscal year, said a department official. The department is working to develop livestock industries in Kayan, Thonegwa and Kwanchangone townships, said Tun Win Myint, director of the Fisheries Department. Some 10,000 acres of land will be developed. “The main aim is to develop shrimp and fish farming businesses,” said the director. The facilities will include modern packaging machines and cold storage facilities. The projects will allow foreign investments but they may not be 100 per cent controlled by those investors, he said.
Government commits to long term aquaculture development; starts dialogue on issues The Myanmar Times 9th Feb 2018
Myanmar has taken its first major step towards developing a sustainable aquaculture industry that will meet domestic dietary needs and support the country’s fishery exports business at a time when wild fish stocks are declining rapidly. “The fisheries sector is one of the most important for our ministry, contributing to the protein needs of our people as well as our nation’s food security,” Dr Aung Thu, Union minister of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MoALI), said in Nay Pyi Taw last week. He added that while Myanmar now exports fishery products to 40 foreign markets, the country’s present production capacity is insufficient for it to continue exporting at those levels. “As such, developing a local aquaculture industry with assistance from international organisations is essential,” he said.
Livestock exports forecast to rise The Myanmar Times 8th Feb 2018
Health & Life Sciences
About 10,000 live cattle have been exported to China since trading of livestock was allowed in late 2017 and demand is expected to rise, according to Dr. Ye Tun Win, Director General of the Veterinary Department under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI). “When cattle are moved beyond Muse, we put them on the export list,” Dr. Ye Tun Win told The Myanmar Times on Monday. The department conducts veterinary checkups on the animals and issues recommendations to the Department of Trade certifying them fit for export before they are taken to China. In response to market demand and in order to crack down on illegal livestock exports, the government last year allowed the export of live cattle at the Myanmar border.
Myanmar vows to work with region in fight against counterfeit drugs The Myanmar Times 1st Mar 2018
Myanmar has vowed to cooperate with countries in the region to combat transnational distributors of counterfeit medicine, the Myanmar News Agency reported Wednesday. Deputy Attorney-General U Win Myint warned of the dangerous side effects of counterfeit drugs that Myanmar and the rest of the world have to face, stressing the need to enforce effective laws and punishment to dissuade producers of such drugs. He related the message during a meeting with French Ambassador Olivier Richard and diplomat Jean David Levitte, president of the board of directors of the International Institute of Research against Counterfeit Medicine.
Japan's elder care providers head to Myanmar Nikkei Asian Review 5th Feb 2018
As Southeast Asia begins to confront its creeping population aging problem, Japanese companies that provide nursing care see an opportunity to reach new markets -- and to bring much-needed caregivers to Japan. Since December, a consortium including Japanese nursing care providers Sakura Community Service and Egao Ichiban has been experimenting with home health care operations in Myanmar's commercial capital of Yangon with the support of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Japanese certified caregivers and others are there until February to evaluate the feasibility of a home nursing care business while training local staff.
Flagship HIV/AIDS project launched in Myanmar Xinhua 26th Feb 2018
-Myanmar has launched a HIV/AIDS Flagship (UHF) project to be implemented in five regions and states with the highest rate of HIV infection, the official Global New Light of Myanmar reported Monday. With a fund of 10 million U.S. dollars and backed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the two-year project 2018-19 covers Kachin and Shan states and Sagaing, Yangon and Mandalay regions. The project aims to beef up HIV prevention, testing and treatment services by utilizing non-governmental organizations and private sector health providers for the high-risk population - people with HIV, drug addicts, sex workers and transgender people.
Cuba offers Myanmar health development activities Eleven Myanmar 26th Feb 2018
Cuba and Myanmar will cooperate on health promotion activities under a tripartite Cuba-Myanmar- Luxembourg programme, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports. Dr Myint Htwe, the Union Minister of Health and Sports, discussed the exchange of medical experts when he met February 22 with Cuban Ambassador to Myanmar, Hector Conde Almedia. The Cuban ambassador later shared information about Cuba’s expertise in fast-track bio-education programmes, vaccine production, cancer treatments, universal access to free medical treatment, and education.
Research ethics to be promoted in medical universities The Myanmar Times 21st Feb 2018
Dr Phae Thet Khin, president of Ethics Review Committee of the Department of Medical Research (DMR), said as part of its initial efforts, a Training of Trainers (TOT) was held for representatives of 16 medical universities in Yangon. He said the workshop aims to develop medical professional and research ethics in the country. “Research is important to daily life,” Dr Phae Thet Khin said. “Research and development play important roles in the country. The ministry also urges the public to become concerned about research,” he said. He told The Myanmar Times that his office will cooperate with medical universities to conduct a training workshop on responsible conduct of research to develop professionalism.
Government urged to draft mental health care policy The Myanmar Times 19th Feb 2018
Most people think that only the patients in the Mental Health Hospital suffer from mental disorders, but anyone can suffer from mental diseases, such as those related to physical illness, alcohol abuse, and drug dependence, among others, said Daw San San Oo, who is a psychiatrist. “A mental health system is needed in every area of Myanmar,” she said, adding that the country’s law, which is more than a century old, is no longer meeting the needs of the times. The country’s current mental health legislation, entitled “The Lunacy Act,” was enacted in 1912. A new mental health bill has been discussed by relevant ministries and agencies since 2013 but has not yet reached parliament.
Mobile app for midwives to help with deliveries The Myanmar Times 9th Feb 2018
The Ministry of Health and Sports on Wednesday launched an application that will be installed in tablet computers and distributed to midwives to aid them during emergencies while caring for pregnant mothers, during delivery or post-childbirth care. Union Health and Sports Minister Myint Htwe said the app, called Safe Delivery Mobile Application, could be a life-saver for both mother and child. “By using this app, we hope that midwives will be able to prevent loss of life of mother and child during life-and-death situation, which will require quick decision-making, such as postpartum hemorrhage or emergency situation for the newborn,” he said at the launch ceremony.
Myanmar woos Indian investors in bid to support healthcare sector The Myanmar Times 6th Feb 2018
With demand for private healthcare services on the rise, the sector has been identified as a priority sector for investments by the government of Myanmar. India, with its proximity to Myanmar and skills in pharmaceutical production and hospital management, is seen as a promising investor in the sector at a time when hospitals, medical equipment and services and skilled doctors and nurses are in short supply. “Indian investors stand to add much value to the local healthcare industry,” said Dr Kyaw Zin Thant, Director General of the Ministry of Health & Sports. “We have increased our public spending in the healthcare sectors by 10 times in 2017-18 compared to 2011-12 but the Myanmar healthcare system still faces many challenges such as the lack of skilled human resources, physical infrastructure, medicines and services and health financing.”
3MDG to give $5.13 million for nutrition, sexual health The Myanmar Times 2nd Feb 2018
The 3MDG will extend its agenda to support nutrition, sexual and reproductive health and rights in 2018, contributing US$5.13 million (K6.82 billion) for these two substantial new investments, the statement said. The new investment by 3MDG will focus on community-based nutrition such as social behavior change communication, establishing mother-to-mother support groups, and referrals. These will be especially implemented in Rakhine and Chin states, where there are nutrition challenges. The country’s Demographic Health Survey-DHS for 2015-16, showed 29 percent of children under five are stunted, 8pc are severely stunted, 7pc are wasted, and 19pc are underweight. Stunting is a big challenge due to rampant malnutrition among children.
Myanmar's first community radio goes on air Xinhua 19th Feb 2018
Myanmar's first community radio - Khayae FM for Htantabin township community in Yangon has gone on air, adding to the number of FM line broadcasting from Myanmar Radio, Myanmar News Agency reported Monday. The Khayae FM, which is operational since Sunday, can be heard for four hours a day with programs on agriculture, livestock breeding, health, education, entertainment and daily news in the Htantabin township. The government is working towards transition from a state-owned media to community radio services to ensure the voice of the people can resonate through it, Minister of Information Pe Myint told the inaugural ceremony. Noting that the government has already launched several radio channels for ethnic people, he said more community radios will emerge in the future.
Hanthawaddy airport agreement expired: consortium Frontier Myanmar 26th Feb 2018
The government’s plans for a US$1.5 billion airport at Bago have hit another hurdle, with a member of the consortium picked to build the project revealing that a key agreement has expired. Singapore-listed Yongnam Holdings said in an announcement that the framework agreement signed between the Department of Civil Aviation and the consortium had expired and not yet been renewed “as certain issues remain unresolved”. The agreements concerns the “design, construction and management of Hanthawaddy International Airport on the basis of a public-private partnership”, the announcement said.
Eight years needed to build Yangon railway station project The Myanmar Times 21st Feb 2018
THE US$2.5 billion Yangon railway station project, which is set to be Myanmar’s largest joint venture investment project under the National League for Democracy-led government, will take eight years to complete the construction, according to the winning consortium, which also claims that the work will create 100,000 local construction jobs. The Central Transport Development Consortium (CTDC) has been selected as the preferred bidder to redevelop the 25.7 hectares (63.5 acre) prime site around Yangon Central Railway Station in the city centre of Myanmar’s commercial capital. Another consortium involving Singapore-listed Yoma Strategic Holdings and Myanmar-listed First Myanmar Investment also applied for tender.
KNU demands negotiations over planned highway linking Thai border, Dawei SEZ Frontier Myanmar 2nd Feb 2018
The Karen National Union has demanded negotiations with the Union government over plans to resume building a two-lane highway between the Thai border and the Dawei Special Economic Zone in Tanintharyi Region. The KNU said in a statement on February 1 that the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement it signed in October 2015 stipulated that the government “must negotiate” with signatories over the implementation of socio-economic development projects. The KNU, one of eight armed groups that signed the NCA in 2015, said that if work resumed on the highway, it would cut through pristine forests and rural communities under its control.
New int'l airport project in central Myanmar in progress Xinhua 1st Feb 2018
Myanmar's new Hanthawaddy International Airport project, being implemented as a national project in the country's central Bago region, some 76.8 km north-east of Yangon, is in progress. Upon completion, the airport will represent the fourth and largest of its kind in Myanmar after Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw's and is expected to become a major gateway for international airlines to use and operate their businesses. Fencing along the airport project has now been 65 percent completed after negotiating with land owners to pave way for the construction, a project engineer of the Department of Civil Aviation of Myanmar said, expecting it will be finalized by March, the end of current financial year 2017-18.
Draft YCDC Law to drive Yangon growth submitted in Parliament The Myanmar Times 8th Feb 2018
Yangon’s leaders want to upgrade and promote the city as a business hub for the country. Last week, its mayor, U Maung Maung Soe, submitted draft legislation for the governing and development of the city to the Yangon Regional Parliament. “The draft YCDC Law covers 32 sectors and has 398 sections concerning the development of Yangon into a strong business city. We are now seeking advice and confirmation from the MPs before proceeding with the legislation,” U Maung Maung Soe said. The draft YCDC Law, which was drawn up by the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) with the help of 31 government-appointed experts and 9 members of parliament (MPs), is intended to replace the existing 1922 City of Rangoon Municipal Act and supplement the 2013 YCDC Law. It was drafted following a 2016 request by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in late 2016.
MCCAIN, CARDIN BILL ON BURMA ACCOUNTABILITY PASSES SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE - Press Releases - United States Senator John McCain McCain.Senate.Gov 8th Feb 2018
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today passed legislation authored by U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Ben Cardin (D-MD), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to impose targeted sanctions and travel restrictions on senior Burmese military officials responsible for human rights atrocities against the Rohingya people. The Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act would prohibit certain military cooperation with the Burmese military until the Departments of State and Defense can certify that officials have halted the violence. The bill would also support economic and security sector reform, and encourage Burma’s successful transition of power to a civilian government.
Ministry issues first ECC but online database urged The Myanmar Times 5th Feb 2018
The environment ministry has released the first round of environmental permits, while public online access to those documentations is urged. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC) has just issued the ministry’s first Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC), according to law firm VDB Loi. The ECC is a document having legal effect, through which the Ministry approves an Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) Report, an Environmental and Impact Assessment Report, or an Environmental Management Plan (EMP). Issued by the MONREC’s minister’s office, it is in a letter format and confirms that an EIA is in compliance with the requirements of the Law on Environmental Conservation (LEC).
Myanmar seeks foreign investments to develop steel sector The Myanmar Times 1st Mar 2018
South Korea’s Posco Daewoo Steel Co Ltd and Millcon Steel Co Ltd of Thailand will co-invest with the government in a joint venture to operate a state-owned steel factory in Myingyan, Mandalay, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Industry. Posco Daewoo and Millcon Steel have already met with U Khin Maung Cho, Minister of the Ministry of Industry in January to discuss the various possibilities of cooperation. These included Build – Operate – Transfer (BOT) schemes as well as profit sharing arrangements under a joint venture, the statement said. There are currently two state-owned steel factories in Myanmar. The second factory is in Pang Pet, Taunggyi township in Shan State. However, the factories have been loss-making and operations have been suspended since April 2017. The government is now considering options to reopen those factories with support from private companies as part of a move to further develop the industrial sector.
Myanmar: Asia's Final Frontier Car Market Forbes 28th Feb 2018
Earlier this month I spent four days in Myanmar, the proud and reclusive nation of 52 million sandwiched between India, China and Thailand. My purpose: Work with officials in the Myanmar government to develop plans for a competitive auto industry. The timing could not be better: Fast-emerging and increasingly affordable EV and autonomous vehicle technologies offer opportunities to Myanmar that neighboring countries like Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia never had -- especially if one sets goals for 2030 and beyond. My previous visits to Myanmar occurred in the 1990s when the nation was an autocracy. At that time, the only cars on the road were black Audi sedans (imported from China) that escorted top military officials around town.