Myanmar Update: Update on Myanmar’s Sanctions Landscape

Myanmar Update | July 10, 2018
Authors: Matt Solomon, Jack Myint, Annah Bachman
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Update on Myanmar’s Sanctions Landscape

On June 25, the European Union announced sanctions against seven Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) and police officials due to “their involvement in or association with atrocities and serious human rights violations committed against the Rohingya population in Rakhine State in the second half of 2017,” according to its official statement. A few hours after the EU announcement came out, Canada took similar regulatory measures against those seven individuals. The list includes:

  1. Brigadier-General Thura San Lwin, former head of the Border Guard Police;
  2. Police Chief Thant Zin Oo, Commander of the 8th Security Police Battalion;
  3. Brigadier General Aung Aung, Commander of the 33rd Light Infantry Division;
  4. Brigadier General Than Oo, Commander of the 99th Light Infantry Division;
  5. Major General Khin Maung Soe, Commander of the 15th Light Infantry Division;
  6. Major General Maung Maung Soe, former Western Command Chief; and
  7. Lieutenant General Aung Kyaw Zaw, former Bureau of Special Operations No.3 Commander.

They were all subjected to asset freezes and travel bans in the EU. Canada’s sanctions impose asset freezes and bar Canadians and people in Canada from dealing with the listed officers “or providing financial or related services to them.” A few hours after the sanctions were announced, the Tatmadaw posted a statement on its official Facebook page, that Major General Maung Maung Soe had been discharged due to his mismanagement of the situation in Rakhine, in response to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) attacks that took place in 2017. Additionally, it was also announced that Lieutenant General Aung Kyaw Zaw had been “allowed to resign” due to his performance. No further details were given, and no reference was made to the EU and Canadian sanctions.

The top two Tatmadaw officials— Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and Vice Senior General Soe Win—are notably absent from the list. The EU did indicate, however, that it is leaving open the option of additional sanctions, depending on how the Tatmadaw conducts itself moving forward, and how the repatriation process for the displaced refugees is being conducted.

In the United States, the ‘Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act of 2018,’ which passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February, has not yet been entertained for debate by the full Senate due to an apparent blockade from Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY). To circumvent this procedural impediment, the Washington human rights community is now looking to include some of the same language from the bill in the Senate’s version of the “National Defense Authorization Act” (NDAA). The U.S. House of Representatives already passed Amendment 43 into Title XII Subtitle G of its NDAA, in a section titled “Matters Relating to Burma,” which authorizes targeted financial sanctions and visa bans against Myanmar military officials and affiliated entities directly involved in the situation in Rakhine State. On July 9, Human Rights Watch and 45 other human rights organizations initiated an advocacy effort directed at the U.S. Senate, particularly Senator John McCain (R-AZ), to include the Myanmar sanctions language in the Senate’s NDAA, so that the final conference version of the FY19 NDAA has a better chance of passage. To see the advocacy letter, please click here.

Executive Branch officials have taken a measured approach to the issue of sanctions. National Security Council Senior Director for Asia Matthew Pottinger visited Myanmar on June 14-16, where he said that the U.S. has no intention of imposing broad-based economic sanctions against Myanmar. Read the official press statement here. In order to find a long-term solution to the crisis in Rakhine State, he said that, “[the Trump Administration] believes that increasing investment here, increasing confidence in Myanmar will lead to [economic growth], and ultimately that will have the best effect on mitigating the discrimination, mitigating the suffering that’s affecting many different groups in Myanmar,” while encouraging more American businesses to enter the Myanmar market. Pottinger did acknowledge that the Administration is looking at narrow sanctions “aimed at individuals who we believe the evidence shows should be held accountable for some of the atrocities committed in northern Rakhine State.”

Myanmar Investment Commission Appoints New Chair

On June 18, U Thaung Tun, Minister of the Office of the Union Government and National Security Advisor, was appointed Chairman of the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC). This is a break from tradition, as the Minister of Planning and Finance typically serves in this role. On May 25, U Soe Win was appointed as the new Minister of Planning and Finance. Government sources have suggested three potential reasons for the unorthodox appointment:

  1. The MIC Chair position requires regular travel between Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon, which could be taxing for Minister U Soe Win who, at 80, is the oldest member in the NLD cabinet;
  2. The local and international business communities (including the Council) have consistently advocated for stronger coordination amongst relevant Ministries on economic matters. U Thaung Tun’s role as Union Government Office Minister makes him well-positioned to play such a coordinating role.
  3. In his role as National Security Advisor, U Thaung Tun plays a key role in addressing the crisis in Rakhine State. To the extent that Rakhine State has been a factor in dissuading would-be foreign investors, as MIC Chair U Thaung Tun can play a role addressing such concerns.  

Under U Thaung Tun, the MIC has already collaborated with U Set Aung, the Deputy Minister for Planning and Finance, to implement changes aimed at facilitating business in Myanmar. The MIC Secretary announced on July 9 that U Thuang Tun hopes to relax as many procedures and regulations as possible. Changes that have already been initiated include:

  1. The MIC will shorten the time for businesses to submit proposals to the Commission. Under the current Myanmar Investment Law, the MIC can take up to sixty days to review new proposals, thirty days to approve proposals, and ten days to issue new firm permits. The Committee anticipates being able to shorten all three processes.
  2. Firms will be able to combine company and tax registration numbers, as well as choose whether to re-register free or charge to facilitate tax payments.
  3. All communication between firms and the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) will be conducted online from August 1 onwards. This includes company registrations, name changes, information updates, submission of financial reports and other reports and inquiries.

To access U Thaung Tun’s recent address to the foreign Chambers of Commerce, in which he outlines some of his priorities, please click here.

Myanmar Appoints New Deputy Minister of Health

Effective July 2, Dr. Mya Lay Sein has been appointed Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Health and Sports. Prior to this role, she led the Sport Medicine Department in the Ministry and served as President of the Sport Medicine Committee of Myanmar. Dr. Mya served as Vice President of the Myanmar Badminton Federation and was a competitive badminton player. She studied at the Yangon Institute of Medicine (1) and graduated with an MBBS in 1982. She holds a certificate of the Postgraduate Training Sports Medicine (Singapore Sports Council, Singapore) and also received the degrees of MSpMed (Master of Sports Medicine) and PhD (Sports Medicine & Shoulder) from the University of New South Wales, Australia. She has lectured medical students, doctors, MSc students, PhD students, medical personnel, and physiotherapists from the Ministry of Health, Defense Service Medical Academy, Ministry of Sports, Ministry of Education, Dagon University, Yangon and Yadanarbon University Mandalay, National Sports Federations and International Sports Federations.

Myanmar Government and United Nations Reach Agreement on Refugees

In a first step towards securing the future of the minority Muslim population in western Myanmar, the United Nations and Myanmar government signed an agreement to resettle over 700,000 Rohingya refugees. Over the course of four months, UN agencies and the Myanmar government discussed issues of citizenship and identity with the promise of the “voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable” return of the Rohingya. Both sides also agreed that the Rohingya need a stable identity as well as a clear and predictable pathway to citizenship. The UN has been granted access to northern Rakhine State, although no timeline for the deal’s execution has been set. The government will also form an “independent commission of inquiry” consisting of an “international personality” as well as national and international legal and technical experts to investigate alleged human rights violations in the northern Rakhine State. While the UN and the Myanmar government has expressed hope and positivity in the process, the Rohingya and human rights organizations have raised concerns. The deal has not yet been made public.

 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
China, Myanmar agree to maintain border stability

National Affairs
Myanmar to launch health awareness activities
Myanmar's anti-corruption commission, business organization agree to fight corruption 
Government approves seven new express delivery providers
Myanmar reforms investment commission 
Information Committee release progress report on Rakhine
State Counsellor, UN envoy meet on Rakhine crisis
Repatriation Deal With UN No Threat to Sovereignty, Minister Says
NCA signatories propose dates for peace conference, related meetings 
Citing lack of evidence, Anti-Corruption Commission rejects legal action against former minister
Credentials of new Myanmar Investment Commission chair in question
Coal Miners Given Permission to Resume Controversial Projects in Shan State

Market Development
Myanmar to allow foreign investors to trade on Yangon Stock Exchange
MIC to improve procedures for doing business in Myanmar
Myanmar promises reforms, aims to develop foreign exchange market
In trade war with US, China may import Myanmar cattle
Government to support SMEs in gaining access to technology, value-add

Customs
Myanmar to form special task forces to combat illegal trade
Thailand and Myanmar to jointly boost border trade
Hard and soft infrastructure needed to boost Myanmar trade with neighbours to the west
Chinese manufacturers eye Myanmar base as trade war escalates
China, Myanmar to sign MOU on Economic Corridor in 2018
Exporters permitted to register for customs relief under GSP

Defense & Security
Myanmar fires general who led campaign against Rohingya
Vietnam, Myanmar promote defence cooperation

Economics
Minister on a mission
Myanmar takes new measures to promote foreign investment
WB stops approving projects for Myanmar: Muhith
In Person | Director of Govt Investment Body Bullish on New Companies Law
Businesses warn govt not to backtrack on retail and wholesale reform
Kayah State's political instability creates fear among potential investors
Myanmar sets all companies to re-register in line with new companies law - Global Times
Engage to overcome Myanmar bias against Chinese investments
Guide to: Doing business in Yangon
New MIC chair promises to stay investor-friendly, says Myanmar "open for business"
UMFCCI to team up with international organisations for import substitution
Myanmar keen not to lose Kyaukpyu Port to China

Energy
Oil and gas responsible for half of Myanmar’s debt
Myanmar looks to boost alternative feedstock to meet rising energy demand
Basic Energy invests in Myanmar solar project
Relaunching Myitsone Hydropower dam could win investor confidence in Myanmar - Global Times
Ministry plans to stabilise fuel oil price
20 villages in Sagaing District get electricity
Basic Energy buys stake in 2 Thai EPC firms working on 220 MW Myanmar PV project
Yangon could consume 3,000 MW of electricity by 2021-22
A new deal for oil and gas

Financial Services
Financial inclusion makes big inroads into Myanmar
Bank accounts and debit cards for Rohingya refugees, on the books
Japan to offer grant aid to Myanmar for financial market development
Foreign investments in local banks to be reviewed by CBM

Food & Agriculture
Rice industry urges legislation to regulate supply chain
Myanmar launches new agriculture development strategy
New national agriculture strategy to drive growth, if properly implemented
Government to take action on illegal fisheries exports
Officials warn against onion speculation
Government encourages subsistence fish farming in rivers, lakes
Yangon HQ to oversee all water resources

Health & Life Sciences
Order Of Appointment: Appointment Of Deputy Minister For The Ministry Of Health And Sports | Myanmar International TV
India, China, S.Korea offer building help in Nay Pyi Taw
President issues call to action on drugs, creates tipoff centre
Health officials launch comprehensive cancer registry system for Myanmar
Drug advocacy groups urge public to help drug users
Dengue claims 18 lives in June, public urged to take precautions
Insurance for migrant workers
Child’s death leads to close watch on factory

ICT
Discontinuation of Radio Free Asia Broadcasts in Myanmar Constitutes Further Shrinking of Space for Free Expression
KDDI Brings Japanese Telecoms Technology & Know-how to Myanmar
Yangon Has 4th-Fastest 4G Speeds in East Asia, Survey Finds
Huawei and partners pave way for Asia-Pacific digitalization
Upgrading Myanmar’s internet connection

Infrastructure
Myanmar to showcase investment projects, reforms in Hong Kong’s Belt and Road forum
Better PR, infrastructure needed to woo more Korean investors
Summons filed to block Singapore Myanmar Investco's US$10.8m TPR divestment
Upgrading Myanmar’s internet access
Thai developer Amata eyes Myanmar, Laos for Chinese factories

Travel & Tourism
Myanmar’s tourism proposals offer small gestures but miss the elephant in the room
Myanmar unveils train system backed by Japan
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

China, Myanmar agree to maintain border stability - Xinhua | English.news.cn Xinhua 28th Jun 2018
BEIJING, June 28 (Xinhua) -- China and Myanmar has agreed to maintain peace and security in their border area. The agreement was made by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and U Kyaw Tint Swe, Myanmar's minister of the office of the State Counselor, during a meeting in Beijing on Thursday.

National Affairs

Myanmar to launch health awareness activities - Xinhua | English.news.cn Xinhua 5th Jul 2018
YANGON, July 4 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar authorities are planning to launch a public health awareness activity against the danger of using prohibited food, drugs and cosmetics, the official Global New Light of Myanmar reported Wednesday.

Myanmar's anti-corruption commission, business organization agree to fight corruption - Xinhua | English.news.cn Xinhua 5th Jul 2018
YANGON, July 2 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar's Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) signed a joint statement in Yangon Monday on cooperation in fighting corruption.

Government approves seven new express delivery providers The Myanmar Times 3rd Jul 2018
The registered service providers will provide postal and parcel express delivery services both domestically and internationally and will be managed by the Ministry of Transportation and Communication, according to a government notification. These include RG Express Services Co, Myanmar Zarla Distribution Co, First Courier Service Co, Hercules Logistics Co and UMG Logistics Co, which will provide delivery services domestically. 

Myanmar reforms investment commission - Xinhua | English.news.cn Xinhua 19th Jun 2018
YANGON, June 17 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar reformed its Investment Commission with 13 members and the Minister at the Office of the Government U Thaung Tun was appointed as chairman, said a government's order issued late Saturday.

Information Committee release progress report on Rakhine The Myanmar Times 14th Jun 2018
The committee, which was established by the government with the aim of achieving stability, peace and development across the country, released the report on the economic and social development of Rakhine State between January and April this year.

State Counsellor, UN envoy meet on Rakhine crisis The Myanmar Times 14th Jun 2018
This is the first trip by the special envoy since her appointment in April. The visit came after the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government last week to cooperate in the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Muslims who fled violence in northern Rakhine to Bangladesh. 

Repatriation Deal With UN No Threat to Sovereignty, Minister Says The Irrawaddy 14th Jun 2018
NAYPYITAW — The Union Minister for Labor, Immigration and Population on Wednesday moved to calm fears that the government’s invitation to United Nations agencies into the country to help deal with the Rakhine issue posed a threat to the nation’s sovereignty. The Myanmar Army, or Tatmadaw, has called for caution on cooperating with international agencies, and opposition parties including the Union Solidarity and Development Party and Arakan National Party have continuously opposed foreign intervention in the issue.

NCA signatories propose dates for peace conference, related meetings | Eleven Myanmar Eleven Myanmar 13th Jun 2018
The ethnic armed groups which are signatories to the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) sent an official letter to the Union government on June 12 proposing dates of holding the third Union Peace Conference in mid-July and related meetings, said Yebaw Myo Win, chairman of All Burma Student Democratic Front. The Peace Process Steering Team (PPST) formed with leaders of the NCA signatories held the 21st meeting in Thailand's Chiang Mai on June 11 to discuss matters related to the peace conference also called the 21st Century Panglong Conference. The meeting resolutions are included in the above letter.

Citing lack of evidence, Anti-Corruption Commission rejects legal action against former minister Frontier Myanmar 12th Jun 2018
YANGON — The Anti-Corruption Commission will not file a criminal case against former minister U Kyaw Win but has also not exonerated him of allegations of corruption. The commission began investigating Kyaw Win in early May after receiving eight complaints and submitted its report to the President’s Office on May 25. That evening, President U Win Myint accepted Kyaw Win’s resignation as minister for planning and finance.

Credentials of new Myanmar Investment Commission chair in question Frontier Myanmar 12th Jun 2018
YANGON —Minister of the Office of the Union Government U Thaung Tun has been appointed chair of the Myanmar Investment Commission, dividing opinion on whether the career diplomat has the necessary economic experience for the role. The June 5 appointment follows the resignation last month of Minister for Planning and Finance U Kyaw Win, who also chaired the investment body. It was expected that his successor at the ministry, U Soe Win, would inherit the role of MIC chair.

Coal Miners Given Permission to Resume Controversial Projects in Shan State The Irrawaddy 11th Jun 2018
The Union government has given permission to two coal-mining companies in Mongkaing Township in southern Shan State to resume operations despite opposition from local people. The two companies, Pyae Aung Hein and Hein Mitter, received permission to restart their coal-mining operations in Mongkaing after temporarily stopping work following protests by local groups.

Market Development

Myanmar to allow foreign investors to trade on Yangon Stock Exchange - Xinhua | English.news.cn Xinhua 5th Jul 2018
YANGON, July 4 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar's Yangon Stock Exchange (YSX) will soon allow foreign investors to trade on the exchange, the local Voice Daily reported Wednesday.

MIC to improve procedures for doing business in Myanmar The Myanmar Times 3rd Jul 2018
“After the top positions were changed in the MIC, the new chair set instructions to make as many relaxations in the procedures and regulations to doing business as possible within our legal framework,” U Aung Naing Oo said. Among the MIC’s priorities will be to reduce the time taken for businesses to submit proposals to the commission and for the latter also to shorten the time taken to approve the proposals and issue new business permits. 

Myanmar promises reforms, aims to develop foreign exchange market The Myanmar Times 26th Jun 2018
The move comes at a time when the country is facing a shortage of foreign currency in the domestic market, which is adding pressure on the State and Central Bank.  In Myanmar, the Central Bank is responsible for setting the daily exchange rate. It also sells a designated amount of foreign currency to local banks and authorised money changers, which limits the amount of foreign exchange available for trade in the market.

In trade war with US, China may import Myanmar cattle The Myanmar Times 26th Jun 2018
China’s beef consumption has steadily increased to 8.4 million tonnes annually, according to Beijing. China is expected to allow 14 beef-exporting countries into its domestic market, and Myanmar is most likely to be one of them. China is already in the process of establishing an abattoir near the border town of Nan Kam to check on the cattle that come from Myanmar to make sure they are healthy and fit for consumption. 

Government to support SMEs in gaining access to technology, value-add The Myanmar Times 13th Jun 2018
“In Rakhine State, for example, bamboo is cut down and directly imported to India. Most crops are exported raw. No value is added, which results in lower margins for cultivators and fewer jobs for the people,” said Daw Aye Aye Win, Director General of the Directorate of Industrial Supervision and Inspection (DISI). DISI falls under the remit of the Ministry of Industry and is responsible for helping SMEs gain access to technology, market access and financial support. DISI also conducts safety inspections at industrial workplaces.

Customs

Myanmar to form special task forces to combat illegal trade Xinhua 8th Jul 2018
Myanmar will form special task forces to curb illegal trade and will conduct surprise check with mobile teams at some main gates, the official Global New Light of Myanmar reported Sunday.

Thailand and Myanmar to jointly boost border trade Pattaya Mail 6th Jul 2018
Thailand’s Vice Minister for Commerce, Dr. Sakon Varanyuwatana, says the Thailand-Myanmar Border Economic Partnership Conference will boost border trade and relations between the two countries. The conference was held near Thailand’s Ban Nam Pu Ron and Myanmar’s Htee Kee border checkpoints. It was aimed at increasing trade activity in border areas by promoting border development and cooperation between Thailand and Myanmar. In attendance were Dr. Lei Maw, Chief Minister of Myanmar’s Taninthargyi Region, as well as representatives from public and private organizations in Kanchanaburi province. Small meetings on public-private cooperation, business matching and agreement-signing ceremonies were also being held on the sidelines of the event. Dr. Lei Maw said Myanmar’s economy is experiencing rapid growth and, therefore, the country must import construction materials, household commodities and industrial chemicals to accommodate rising domestic demand. She invited Thai businesses to build more hotels, factories and mines to accommodate the potential growth on the border, especially once road construction connecting Dawei Port and Ban Nam Pu Ron Checkpoint is completed. She also expects more investment and travel by citizens of both countries in the near future.

Hard and soft infrastructure needed to boost Myanmar trade with neighbours to the west The Myanmar Times 6th Jul 2018
India’s Ambassador to Myanmar Vikram Misri said that it is not enough to focus on building “hard infrastructure of transport corridors like roads, bridges, ports” and others to move trade forward.  “It is also important to supplement hard infrastructure with soft infrastructure like trade facilitation agreements, border infrastructure, border-crossing agreements and motor vehicle agreements that enable both passengers and cargo traffic to move between countries,” he said during a recent meeting of senior Myanmar officials, businessmen and international experts in Nay Pyi Taw.

Chinese manufacturers eye Myanmar base as trade war escalates The Myanmar Times 6th Jul 2018
Interest to set up manufacturing and production facilities in Myanmar among the Chinese has risen ever since the US this month imposed a 25 percent tariff on up to $50 billion of Chinese products, he told The Myanmar Times during the sidelines of Myanmar-Korea Investment Promotion Seminar in Yangon.

China, Myanmar to sign MOU on Economic Corridor in 2018 Ecns.cn 27th Jun 2018
China and Myanmar will soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on building the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), one of the highlight projects of the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative, according to reports by media in Myanmar.

Exporters permitted to register for customs relief under GSP The Myanmar Times 19th Jun 2018
The GSP is a US trade program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 4,800 products from 129 designated beneficiary countries and territories. The MOC last week issued rules enabling traders to register under its Registered Exporter System in order to be exempt from customs under the GSP with those countries. 

Defense & Security

Myanmar fires general who led campaign against Rohingya Washington Post 25th Jun 2018
Under pressure from Canada and the European Union, the Myanmar military on Monday dismissed a general who is alleged to have led a brutal campaign against Rohingya Muslims last year. It was an unexpected move, one that suggests the military may be prepared to accept some measure of accountability for the crisis. Even as it announced the firing of Major Gen. Maung Maung Soe, however, the military leadership stopped short of blaming him for the operations. The general, it said, displayed “weakness” in the face of militant attacks on police outposts in the country’s western Rakhine state in 2016 and 2017, according to a statement from the office of the commander in chief of defense services, Min Aung Hlaing, that was posted on Facebook.

Vietnam, Myanmar promote defence cooperation Nhan Dan 14th Jun 2018
During a working visit to Myanmar from June 8-12 of a Vietnamese military delegation led by Deputy Minister of National Defence Sen. Lieut. Gen. Tran Don, the two sides discussed measures to deepen their bilateral defence links on a par with the comprehensive cooperative partnership between the two nations.

Economics

Minister on a mission Bangkok Post 9th Jul 2018
Soe Win has been in his post for less than two months, but already there are significant signs that Myanmar's new finance minister is ready to deliver on the government's commitment to boost economic growth. The veteran financial professional is determined to revitalise economic policies and ensure they are carried out effectively, according to government insiders. The long-awaited new Companies Law will take effect next month, and the government hopes it will rejuvenate efforts to attract foreign investment. The economic committee structure that oversees policy is also being revamped.

Myanmar takes new measures to promote foreign investment Xinhua 9th Jul 2018
YANGON, July 1 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar has reformed its investment commission recently and will soon enforce a new companies law in a bid to promote foreign investment. The new Myanmar Investment Commission was reorganized with 13 members with Minister at the Office of the Government U Thaung Tun as chairman.

WB stops approving projects for Myanmar: Muhith WB stops approving projects for Myanmar: Muhith | theindependentbd.com 9th Jul 2018
The World Bank (WB) has stopped approving projects for Myanmar as part of its move to beef up pressures for taking back its Rohingya people from Bangladesh in a peaceful way, said Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday, reports BSS

In Person | Director of Govt Investment Body Bullish on New Companies Law The Irrawaddy 3rd Jul 2018
YANGON — The new Myanmar Companies Law takes effect on Aug. 1 and is intended to encourage foreign investment in Myanmar. Despite strong GDP growth, however, recent surveys suggest the business community is losing faith in the government’s economic reform agenda.

Businesses warn govt not to backtrack on retail and wholesale reform The Myanmar Times 3rd Jul 2018
AMID news that the commerce ministry might backtrack on the retail and wholesale sector reform and impose further restrictions on foreign investments, business leaders warn that any such retraction will be “extremely disappointing” and seriously derail efforts to attract foreign investments for the country. The ministry insisted that they currently have no plans for additional restrictions and that a review put in place for the reform is only intended to clarify the regulation.Information from one of the major chambers in the country reveals that the government is considering backtracking the liberalisation for the retail and wholesale sector by limiting the scope of foreign investors and/or joint-ventures (JVs) by imposing restrictions additional to those laid out in the Directive 25/2018 -- namely the substantial capital requirement and restriction on retail size.

Kayah State's political instability creates fear among potential investors Burma News International 3rd Jul 2018
“Business owners and potential investors are monitoring this. They are monitoring the period in which the NCA (nationwide ceasefire agreement) is yet to be signed. These situations create hindrances and inconveniences for the investors,” she said. The state government is drafting policies to bring mutual benefits to the public and carrying out supervisions and preventing environmental harms in order to prevent projects that will invoke objections from the public, she continued.

Myanmar sets all companies to re-register in line with new companies law - Global Times Global Times 28th Jun 2018
Myanmar has set all companies in operation in the country to re-register within six months from Aug. 1 when the new Myanmar Companies Law takes effect, according to the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) Wednesday.

Engage to overcome Myanmar bias against Chinese investments The Myanmar Times 26th Jun 2018
The IGC published the report “Public perception of Chinese investment in Myanmar and its political consequences”, co-authored by Ying Yao from Tsinghua University and Youyi Zhang from Cornell University, on June 20, which examines the general public’s perception of Chinese investment in Myanmar.  The briefs highlighted that China remains a powerful actor in Myanmar’s economy amid the country’s reforms and opening up.

Guide to: Doing business in Yangon The Business Times 25th Jun 2018
With economic reforms in place and the labour force expected to swell to 10 million by 2030, Yangon is fast becoming one of the prime cities for business in the region. According to a report by PwC, the old capital is the primary driver of Myanmar’s economic growth, accounting for 23 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product. Of the 2,233 enterprises in the country under the Myanmar Investment Law (MIL), 64 per cent are based in Yangon, and foreign enterprises comprise more than half. Manufacturing is the dominant sector for both foreign and local firms, accounting for 73 per cent of total enterprises in Yangon.

New MIC chair promises to stay investor-friendly, says Myanmar "open for business" The Myanmar Times 25th Jun 2018
The new chair, who officially replaced U Kyaw Win as head of the MIC on June 16, stressed that the body will be transparent, efficient and investor-friendly under his leadership. In his first gesture towards upholding that promise, U Thaung Tun said one of his top priorities will be to carry out the so-called MIC endorsement under the new Myanmar Investment Law. This involves setting "strict time limits" for processing business permit applications with the MIC, which will be "substantially" reduced from the current minimum of 60 days.

UMFCCI to team up with international organisations for import substitution Global New Light Of Myanmar 25th Jun 2018
The Republic of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) will cooperate with international organisations to develop import substitution, said U Ye Min Aung, vice president of UMFCCI. “Domestic products cannot keep up with imported goods. We need to track the standards, specifications, customs duty and quota plan. We will study how other countries such as Thailand, Viet Nam and China make import substitution policies. Having studied the know-how to develop import substitution in neighbouring countries, we have a plan to pursue it, focusing on the promotion of domestic production,” said U Ye Min Aung.

Myanmar keen not to lose Kyaukpyu Port to China ANI 12th Jun 2018
Singapore City [Singapore], June 12 (ANI): The Government of Myanmar is reported to be re-evaluating a Chinese investment project to develop the deep-water port of Kyaukpyu because of rising costs.

Energy

Oil and gas responsible for half of Myanmar’s debt The Myanmar Times 3rd Jul 2018
“The contribution of revenue by Myanma OIl and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) to the State is the highest at 47.5 percent. But it is also responsible for half the country’s debt. Myanmar has taken loans for many offshore projects such as pipeline construction, mostly from China,” she said. Myanmar currently owes China $850 million for the South East Asia Crude Oil Pipeline project, $ 560 million for the South East Asia Gas Pipeline and Shwe Offshore Development projects, $ 243 million for the Yadana-Yangon domestic pipeline project and $ 80 million for an onshore oil exploration project, according to debt list.

Myanmar looks to boost alternative feedstock to meet rising energy demand BorneoPost Online 30th Jun 2018
Increased investment in import and distribution capacity should help Myanmar satisfy its growing appetite for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), with the government looking to encourage usage of the fuel as part of plans to direct electricity towards industry.

Basic Energy invests in Myanmar solar project The Manila Times Online 28th Jun 2018
DE Venecia-led Basic Energy Corp. has signed a deal to acquire a 15 percent interest in two Thai firms that bagged the contract to build a 220-megawatt (MW) solar power plant project in Myanmar. The company told the Philippine Stock Exchange on Wednesday that it signed share purchase and shareholders agreements with Thailand’s Meta Corporation Public Co. Ltd. (META) for 15 percent of the outstanding capital of Vintage EPC Co. Ltd (VEPC) and VTE International Construction Co. Ltd. (VINTER). META was formerly known as Vintage Engineering Public Co. Ltd. (VTE).

Relaunching Myitsone Hydropower dam could win investor confidence in Myanmar - Global Times Global Times 19th Jun 2018
Myanmar President U Win Myint on Thursday started a visit to Thailand, where he will attend the 8th Ayeyawady-Chao Phyra Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) Summit. The summit is intended to promote regional economic integration by narrowing the development gaps among the five member countries - Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

Ministry plans to stabilise fuel oil price Eleven Myanmar 1st Jul 2018
In an attempt to control rising fuel oil prices, eight State-owned fuel filling stations will directly sell fuel at a fair price as of July 1, according to the Ministry of Electricity and Energy.

20 villages in Sagaing District get electricity Eleven Myanmar 30th Jun 2018
Under the National Electrification Plan, developed with the World Bank’s loan, Ministry of Electricity and Energy plans to electrify 20 villages in Sagaing District.

Basic Energy buys stake in 2 Thai EPC firms working on 220 MW Myanmar PV project pv magazine International 28th Jun 2018
The Myanmar Government aims to increase electricity production in the country to 30,000 MW by 2030. Philippine-listed energy developer Basic Energy has purchased a 15% stake in two Thai EPC contractors, Vintage EPC Co. Ltd (VEPC) and VTE International Construction Co. Ltd (Vinter), based on an agreement inked with their parent company, Meta Corporation, thus marking its foray into solar energy overseas. VEPC and Vinter are acting as the EPC supplier and construction service contractor, respectively, for a 220 MW solar power plant located in Minbu, in Myanmar’s Magway region. The two subsidiaries of renewable energy project developer, Meta Corporation, formerly known as Vintage Engineering Public Company Limited (VTE), were awarded EPC contracts for the first phase of the US$275 million project by Thai renewable developer, Green Earth Power (GEP) in May 2016.

Yangon could consume 3,000 MW of electricity by 2021-22 The Myanmar Times 25th Jun 2018
Yangon Region is expected to require 3,000MW of electricity by 2021-22, Daw Su Hlaing Wint, assistant manager of the Yangon Electricity Supply Corporation (YESC) said at the Electricity and Energy Expo in Yangon on June 22. That’s the amount of electricity currently being generated across Myanmar, of which Yangon now consumes just over half at 1,548MW.  In other words, Yangon will require the equivalent amount of power now being consumed by the whole country by 2021-22, representing an increase of up to 15pc per year over the next four years, Daw Su Hlaing Wint said. To meet that demand, some K1 billion worth of infrastructure, including substations and transmission lines, will be needed for each additional MW of electricity generated.

A new deal for oil and gas Frontier Myanmar 18th Jun 2018
THE GOVERNMENT is reviewing the structure of its contracts with energy companies amid warnings that the present fiscal terms are deterring investment, particularly in riskier or marginal projects. Myanmar’s high-taxing fiscal regime and low global energy prices are clearly having an impact on the sector, with energy companies having relinquished almost half of the offshore blocks awarded in a 2014 bidding round.

Financial Services

Financial inclusion makes big inroads into Myanmar The Myanmar Times 6th Jul 2018
MAP operates through a partnership between the UK-funded DaNa Facility, United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) Myanmar, and the Ministry of Planning and Finance’s Financial Regulatory Department (FRD). The financial diagnostic provides a composite profile of the access to and use of financial services nationwide, based on a comprehensive survey of 5,500 rural and urban households.

Bank accounts and debit cards for Rohingya refugees, on the books Dhaka Tribune 5th Jul 2018
Photo identity documents issued by the government, and United Nations organizations, will be accepted for Know Your Client (KYC) purposes Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune TheWorld Food Programme (WFP) is working with Rohingya refugees to open bank accounts, through which the Rohingya can receive financial support from the government and global donors. The Rohingya refugees will be given a prepaid debit card, or a mobile wallet, with which they can pay for their daily needs. The development organization continues to work with the financial service providers in close consultation with the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU). WFP Deputy Country Director Barbara Clemens told the Dhaka Tribune in an e-mail: “The proposed system of cash payments to Rohingya will work in compliance with the BFIU's attached requirements informed by the conditions set forth by the local authorities in Cox's Bazar having jurisdiction over the Rohingyas.” “We continue to work with the financial service providers in close consultation with BFIU to finalize the operational processes,” she added. Photo identity documents issued by the government, and United Nations organizations, will be accepted for Know Your Client (KYC) purposes. This practice has been introduced across the world where refugee crises have emerged, a Bangladesh Bank source said—adding that the central bank has already prepared a notice to be issued to banks shortly. But Deputy Governor and Head of Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) Abu Hena Mohammad Razee Hassan said, “We have not received any proposal from any organization on this issue.” According to WFP,  the BFIU has outlined several requirements for bank accounts for refugees. Among them are the use of photo identity documents issued by the Bangladesh government and UNHCR for KYC purposes—and that the financial services can only be provided within the geographic areas the government has designated for rehabilitation of Rohingyas. BFIU says the IDs can also be accepted for receiving wire transfers/remittances in favour of Rohingyas. Over 700,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh, and the influx, though reduced in recent weeks, continues despite Myanmar’s assurances to stop violence in Rakhine. The Bangladesh government and international agencies are giving financial support to Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar. The World Bank recently announced close to half-a-billion dollars in grant-based support to help Bangladesh address the needs of Rohingya refugees in areas including: health, education, water and sanitation, disaster risk management, and social protection. Reflecting the increasingly protracted nature of the Rohingya crisis, the World Bank Board of Directors approved a $50 million additional grant to an existing Health Sector Support Project in Bangladesh— the first in a series that could amount to as much as $480 million. In September 2017, the Bangladesh government opened a bank account to provide financial assistance to Rohingyas. It is Account Number: 33024625, “Humanitarian Assistance to the Myanmar Citizen Illegally Migrated (Rohingya)”, Sonali Bank, at the Cox's Bazar branch.

Japan to offer grant aid to Myanmar for financial market development Xinhua 18th Jun 2018
Japan will provide 5.549 billion Japanese yens' (about 50.5 million U.S. dollars') grant aid to Myanmar for the development of financial market infrastructure, Myanmar News Agency reported Friday. Notes were exchanged concerning the grant in Nay Pyi Taw Thursday between Myanmar Deputy Minister of Planning and Finance U Set Aung and Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Maruyama.

Foreign investments in local banks to be reviewed by CBM The Myanmar Times 14th Jun 2018
“According to the law, all firms are included under the 35 percent threshold. But, being financial institutions, local banks will need to submit the amount of foreign investment received and other terms to the CBM,” U Soe Thein said. “Each investment will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and approved only if appropriate,” he said.

Food & Agriculture

Rice industry urges legislation to regulate supply chain The Myanmar Times 28th Jun 2018
The Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) is advocating the legislation of a draft rice law, U Ye Min Aung, secretary of MRF, said. In March, the MRF organised a stakeholder forum for the rice sector in Nay Pyi Taw, which was attended by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. The event tackled two areas - the base price for paddy during the harvest period as well as to draft a rice bill. 

Myanmar launches new agriculture development strategy Far Eastern Agriculture 19th Jun 2018
Myanmar has launched a new agriculture development strategy (ADS) for a period of next five years, a move that aims to transform the country’s agri-development agenda Myanmar aims to boost agricultural output. (Image source: World Bank Photo Collection/Flickr)

New national agriculture strategy to drive growth, if properly implemented The Myanmar Times 12th Jun 2018
Building on the 2016 Agricultural Development Policy, MOALI, with the support of the Agricultural and Rural Development Coordination Group, drafted the five-year ADS with a corresponding investment plan.  Under the new ADS, significant production and productivity gains in agriculture and the natural resources sectors were identified as being “immense.” However, Myanmar also faces challenges including limited infrastructure in the rural areas, complex land tenure issue, low agricultural productivity and low competitiveness of agri-food products. 

Government to take action on illegal fisheries exports The Myanmar Times 2nd Jul 2018
The Department of Fisheries (DOF) has issued a start warning to illegal eel and crab exporters saying that anyone caught breaking this law would be punished to the full extent of the country’s fisheries laws. “In the past few months, we have running an education campaign and only seizing shipments when we’ve caught illegal exports,” said U Khin Ko Lay, the director general of the DOF.

Officials warn against onion speculation The Myanmar Times 2nd Jul 2018
Officials warned traders on July 21 against speculating on the onion market, in an effort to prevent further higher prices in local markets. Onion prices in the first week July abruptly skyrocketed from K300 a viss (1 viss is equal to 1.6 kilograms or 3.6 pounds) up to K1250, a rise of about 400 percent. Rumours that there will be shortages in coming months have been causing panic but the real reason for the rapid price escalation was trader speculation, a Ministry of Commerce official told The Myanmar Times.

Government encourages subsistence fish farming in rivers, lakes The Myanmar Times 18th Jun 2018
The main reason for the depletion of fish stocks in rivers and lakes is illegal fishing, including electric-shock fishing, in which batteries are used to kill or stun fish; the excessive use of pesticides; and natural disasters, said U Kyaw Moe Aung, a staff officer of the department.  “Electric-shock fishing is the worst because even those fish that survive become infertile and cannnot reproduce. The reproduction of fish is decreasing. We are now educating people to practice subsistence fish farming,” he said.

Yangon HQ to oversee all water resources The Myanmar Times 13th Jun 2018
A loan of US$18 million (K24.30 billion) from the World Bank will be used to fund construction, according to the advisory group of the NWRC. Daw Khin Ni Ni Thein, secretary of the group, said the construction project would consolidate all water management resource activities aimed at improving governance and efficiency. 

Health & Life Sciences

Order Of Appointment: Appointment Of Deputy Minister For The Ministry Of Health And Sports | Myanmar International TV MITV 6th Jul 2018
The Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Office of the President issued the Order 31/2018 dated 2nd July, signed by the president U Win Myint. In the order, it’s described that Dr. Mya Lay Sein has been appointed as the Deputy Minister for the ministry of health and sports in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the Union Government Law.

India, China, S.Korea offer building help in Nay Pyi Taw The Myanmar Times 18th Jun 2018
At present there are a total of 15 embassies that have expressed interest in building their own structures in the diplomatic zone in the administrative capital.  “India offered to build an international hospital, China an international school, and South Korea also an international hospital,” U Myint Thu said.

President issues call to action on drugs, creates tipoff centre The Myanmar Times 2nd Jul 2018
Myanmar remains the second-largest poppy producing country in the world after Afghanistan and one the top manufacturers of methamphetamine in Southeast Asia. “I want to urge you all to destroy narcotics by cooperating with the people, as narcotics have engulfed the whole of our society gradually, destroying our country’s dignity and future and the potential of our youth,” he said at a speech marking the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking held in Nay Pyi Taw. 

Health officials launch comprehensive cancer registry system for Myanmar The Myanmar Times 2nd Jul 2018
A two-day workshop was held last week in Nay Pyi Taw to start the process of establishing the registry.  Cancer specialists from Yangon, Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw and Taunggyi General Hospital and officials from Department of Non-communicable Diseases of the Ministry of Health and Sports discussed the planned database and how it will help the ministry address the problem. There is no specific data on cancer in the country, according to experts. Dr Kaung Myat Shwe, consultant in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Nay Pyi Taw General Hospital, said the data collection system would be hospital- and population-based.

Drug advocacy groups urge public to help drug users The Myanmar Times 2nd Jul 2018
The “Support. Don’t Punish” campaign was launched on Sunday in Yangon to raise awareness about the plight of drug dependents who need medical treatment and help.  It is a global campaign to call for better drug policies anchored in public health and human rights. 

Dengue claims 18 lives in June, public urged to take precautions The Myanmar Times 18th Jun 2018
The rate of dengue may increase in June and July, so people should be aware the risk of the disease, warned the department.  Dr Zaw Lin, the department’s dengue programme manager, said that the incidence of the disease is likely to increase yearly, based on their records, but noted the death rate is exhibiting a downward trend. 

Insurance for migrant workers The Myanmar Times 14th Jun 2018
Buying the insurance before going to work in Thailand, the Myanmar workers would get better compensation for workplace injury of any kind, U Peter Nyunt Maung, chair of the federation, told reporters Wednesday in Yangon. “Workers who suffered accidents on the way to Thailand didn’t use to be compensated since they hadn’t bought any insurance,” he said. Under the agreement between the two organisations, two coverage packages – life insurance and personal accident insurance – are available to workers for Kyat 30,000 (US$22)  annually, U Peter Nyunt Maung said.

Child’s death leads to close watch on factory The Myanmar Times 13th Jun 2018
In April, a child from the area died after being hospitalised and showing symptoms of lead poisoning, health officials said.  When health authorities checked 15 other children in the area, they also found symptoms of lead poisoning. U Tun Myint, head of Yangon’s Public Health Department, said the child suffered from brain fever before he died while receiving treatment at Yankin Children’s Hospital. He said the other children were hospitalised but have recovered.

ICT

Discontinuation of Radio Free Asia Broadcasts in Myanmar Constitutes Further Shrinking of Space for Free Expression PEN America 6th Jul 2018
NEW YORK—The discontinuation of Radio Free Asia’s broadcasting in Myanmar on a domestic channel constitutes a further shrinking of the space for free expression in the country, PEN America said in a statement today.

KDDI Brings Japanese Telecoms Technology & Know-how to Myanmar AsiaOne 6th Jul 2018
TOKYO, Jul 5, 2018 - (ACN Newswire) - KDDI CORPORATION is implementing telecoms business operations in Myanmar, together with Sumitomo Corporation and Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT). As smartphones come into widespread use in Myanmar, demand for social networking services (SNS), video sharing services and content use is increasing. MPT has been offering LTE+ high-speed data transmission services since May 2017, and began offering a reward program in May 2018 as part of ongoing service upgrades.

Yangon Has 4th-Fastest 4G Speeds in East Asia, Survey Finds The Irrawaddy 5th Jul 2018
YANGON — Myanmar’s commercial capital Yangon ranked fourth among East Asian cities in terms of 4G download and upload speeds in a report released by OpenSignal on Thursday.

Huawei and partners pave way for Asia-Pacific digitalization | Eleven Myanmar Eleven Myanmar 11th Jun 2018
Bangkok - Nearly 300 attendees were present on Huawei's fourth Asia-Pacific Innovation Day with hopes to explore Asia-Pacific's future in Digital Infrastructure, Economy and Ecosystem in Siam Kempinski Hotel, Bangkok.

Upgrading Myanmar’s internet connection East Asia Forum 16th Jun 2018
In 2010, internet penetration in Myanmar was less than 0.3 per cent of the population, amounting to a mere 130,000 users. By 2016 this figure had risen 100 times to 13 million citizens online, and this number continues to grow.  A World Bank-funded telecom reforms program led to the arrival of two private operators in 2013 to compete with the state-owned Myanmar Post and Telecommunications.

Infrastructure

Myanmar to showcase investment projects, reforms in Hong Kong’s Belt and Road forum Myanmar Times 2nd Jul 2018
The newly-appointed chair of Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) U Thaung Tun, who is also Union Minister at the Office of the Union Government, is going to lead a delegation to the third annual Belt and Road Summit in Hong Kong this week. Demonstrated by the major economic reforms we have implemented over the past year, the Myanmar government actively and enthusiastically encourages responsible investment in the country. The high-level delegation to Hong Kong, comprising senior policymakers as well as key actors in the private sector, is the latest example of Myanmar's commitment in this regard.

Better PR, infrastructure needed to woo more Korean investors The Myanmar Times 2nd Jul 2018
Myanmar must be more proactive and enthusiastic across its attempts to attract foreign investors, such as visiting with the countries it plans to attract investments from. It should also better communicate developments that would be of interest to investors, such as recent directives on liberalising the education and retail sectors, Lee Hyuk, Secretary General of the ASEAN-Korea Centre, told The Myanmar Times during an interview yesterday.

Summons filed to block Singapore Myanmar Investco's US$10.8m TPR divestment The Business Times 2nd Jul 2018
A JOINT venture partner of mainboard-listed Singapore Myanmar Investco (SMI) has filed an originating summons to block SMI's US$10.8 million proposed disposal of TPR Myanmar. SMI said late Wednesday night that the solicitors of Golden Infrastructure Group (GIG) had filed the summons seeking an injunction against the completion of the TRP sale to Tiger Infrastructure. GIG is a minority joint venture partner in TPR’s parent company Myanmar Infrastructure Group (MIG), a telecommunications tower business which is 97 per cent held by SMI.

Upgrading Myanmar’s internet access The Myanmar Times 2nd Jul 2018
A World Bank-funded telecom reforms programme led to the arrival of two private operators in 2013 to compete with the state-owned Myanmar Post and Telecommunications. With the arrival of a fourth operator in 2016 and the potential upgrade of some of the existing technology to LTE (providing 4G-speed internet), the country’s 22 million broadband users have reason for optimism. The country’s yet-to-be-approved telecommunications master plan sets an ambitious target to ensure high-speed internet access for 50 per cent of Myanmar’s population by 2020. When it comes to universal service, the country hopes to extend its coverage to 94.8 percent of the population by the first quarter of 2019.

Thai developer Amata eyes Myanmar, Laos for Chinese factories Nikkei Asian Review 1st Jul 2018
Amata Corp., Thailand's largest industrial estate developer, says it aims to develop more industrial estates in neighboring countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, especially Laos and Myanmar, to tap into benefits from China's Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

Travel & Tourism

Myanmar’s tourism proposals offer small gestures but miss the elephant in the room ASEAN Today 20th Jun 2018
Myanmar is on a crusade to reattract tourists. Since 2015, tourist numbers have taken a hit. Violence in the Rakhine State led to many Western tourists cancelling holiday bookings. Local operators predict fewer tourist arrivals in Myanmar this year than last year. In 2013, the Ministry for Hotels and Tourism devised a plan to attract 7.5 million tourists annually by 2020. The tourism drive centred around hotel construction. By 2015, there were 1,300 hotels, almost doubling in number from 2010.

Myanmar unveils train system backed by Japan- News - - English NHK WORLD 17th Jun 2018
A ceremony has been held in Myanmar to celebrate the introduction of a system designed to automatically control railway operations. Officials from Japan and Myanmar, including Myanmar's transport minister Thant Sin Maung and Japanese ambassador Ichiro Maruyama, took part in the event. It was held on Saturday at the central station in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city.