Myanmar Update: July 26, 2018

Myanmar Update | July 27, 2018
Authors: Matt Solomon, Jack Myint, Annah Bachman
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

August 1: Roundtable with Ambassador Scot Marciel: Please join us for a roundtable discussion with The Hon. Scot Marciel, U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar during his official consultation visit to Washington. Ambassador Marciel will provide a brief update on recent political and economic developments in Myanmar and the future trajectory of US-Myanmar bilateral relations. Key topics of discussion will include: changes in Myanmar's economic leadership, implementation of the Myanmar Companies Law (which will take effect on August 1), developments in Myanmar's peace process, and potential U.S. sanctions towards Myanmar. The Ambassador will also accommodate a Q&A session on topics of interest raised by members. Please contact Jack Myint at jmyint@usasean.org with any questions. 

August 2: ASEAN Ambassadors' Golf Tournament

THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Companies Law to Take Effect August 1

On August 1, the Myanmar Companies Law 2017 and its full implementing rules will take effect. The Myanmar Companies Act is much anticipated as it will allow foreign investors to acquire up to 35% of shares in a locally owned Myanmar company, trade on the Yangon Stock Exchange (YSX), and complete the entire company registration process online, thus surpassing bureaucratic red tape and inefficiency. Under the previous Myanmar Companies Act of 1914, foreign companies cannot own a single share in locally owned Myanmar companies, and foreigners cannot own stock in companies listed on the YSX. With the emergence of the new Myanmar Companies Law, it is expected that foreign mergers and acquisitions in Myanmar will increase substantially. To access the Myanmar Companies Law, please click here. The implementing rules to the Myanmar Companies Law, which were released on July 23, can be accessed here. To access an op-ed co-authored by Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) Secretary U Aung Naing Oo on the purpose of the new law, please click here.

Central Bank Governor To Remain for Another Five-Year Term

On July 26, President U Win Myint nominated incumbent Central Bank Governor U Kyaw Kyaw Maung, whose term was set to expire on July 31, for another five-year term. The nomination is expected to pass parliamentary approval soon. U Kyaw Kyaw Maung was nominated by former President U Thein Sein to the governorship in 2013, a role he had already served for ten years from 1997-2007. He is the only cabinet-level equivalent in the NLD Administration who hailed from the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) government in that same position. Some lawmakers were quick to point out that being a member of the “old guard,” U Kyaw Kyaw Maung may not be well-positioned to drive fast and effective change in liberalizing Myanmar’s financial sector. Others were more optimistic, suggesting that the Governor’s depth of experience will offer stability and predictability.

Foreign Investment Opportunities in Mining and Oil and Gas Sectors

Myanmar’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conversation (MNREC) has announced the approval of foreign investment in mining operations across the country. U Khin Latt Kyi, director general of MNREC’s mining department has stated that 519 mining sites have been inspected and the mining sector will be open to foreign investors after having been closed since 2016.

After the passage of the amendments to the Myanmar Mines Law 1994 via the enactment of Law No. 72/2015 in December 2015 (the "Mines Law Amendments"), the MNREC passed the Myanmar Mines Rules under Notification No. 13/2018 in February 2018 (the "Mines Rules"), repealing all previous mining rules. To access a comprehensive overview of the Mines Law Amendment and the Mines Rules, please click here. On July 9, Australian mineral miner PanAust became the first foreign company to be awarded three new licenses under the new Mines Rules for the prospecting and exploration of gold and copper in Myanmar. Currently, five foreign mineral companies have obtained licenses to explore for copper, graphite, zinc, coal, tin, and tungsten in Myanmar. They include China’s Sichuan Chaundi Mining and Southern Nonferrous Metal, Australia’s Asia Pacific Mining, Thailand’s Lumpoondum Mining and, most recently, PanAust.

On July 20, the Myanmar Ministry of Electricity and Energy (MOEE) announced that tender rounds for 13 available offshore oil and gas areas will be initiated by the end of 2018 and will be open to foreign companies. There are currently 53 onshore blocks and 51 offshore blocks in Myanmar. Of those, exploration and production (E&P) is being conducted at 35 onshore and 38 offshore blocks. Unlike before, foreign oil and gas companies will no longer be required to partner with local firms to submit bids; it will now be voluntary. The MOEE announcement added that local oil and gas firms that wish to partner with foreign firms are encouraged to raise their standards and go through an extensive review and registration process in order to be eligible for such E&P partnerships.

U.S. Imposes Visa Sanctions on Myanmar Over Refusal to Accept Deportees

On July 9, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) imposed visa sanctions on high-ranking officials from Laos and Myanmar due to a “lack of cooperation” on deportations, specifically by delaying or denying the return of citizens who had been given orders of removal from the United States. These individuals have past criminal records, but several came to the U.S. as refugees. It is estimated that there are over 4,600 Laotians and over 600 individuals from Myanmar that have orders of removal. A DHS press release states that the DHS has made significant efforts to negotiate with Myanmar and Laos, but both countries continued to delay the acceptance of deportees ordered to be removed from the United States. The sanctions may be expanded to a wider population until the DHS determines that cooperation on removals has improved to an acceptable level. Below are the sanctions, as of now, imposed by the DHS:

Myanmar: As of July 9, 2018, the U.S. Embassy in Myanmar has discontinued the issuance of all B1 and B2 nonimmigrant visas for current officials at the Director General level and above from the Myanmar Ministries of Labor, Immigration, and Population (MOLIP) and Home Affairs (MOHA), and their immediate family members, with limited exceptions.

Laos: As of July 9, 2018, the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane, Laos, has discontinued the issuance of all B1, B2, and B1/B2 nonimmigrant visas for current officials at the Director General level and above from the Lao Ministry of Public Security (MPS) as well as their immediate families; and all A3 and G5 nonimmigrant visas to individuals employed by Lao government officials, with limited exceptions.

Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not issued an official statement regarding the situation.

 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
What’s Next for China-Myanmar Security Relations?
Over 1000 workers return from Thailand
Myanmar To Follow Malaysia, Will Ask China To Downsize Port Project Under Its One Belt One Road Initiative

National Affairs
President nominates Central Bank governor for another term
Third Panglong: was it a success?
Govt Peace Commission starts meetings with armed ethnic groups
Key member resigns from Myanmar advisory panel on Rakhine
Linking Myanmar’s peace process and OBOR
Panglong keeps hopes alive in Myanmar
KNPP to hold another negotiation with Gov’t in August on signing the NCA
First United Nations office opens in Nay Pyi Taw
Myanmar peace process makes little progress

Market Development
Ethnic businesses urged to achieve peace through economic development
Foreigners can buy shares at YSX in August
New rules for private schools
New Chair of Kyaukphyu SEZ Wary of Chinese Loans
Myanmar permits local and foreign investment in mining

Customs
A dozen customs officials charged after bribery complaint
Falling kyat value hurting trade, widens deficit
Chinese demand for Myanmar cotton could surge on trade war with US

Defense & Security
12 Tatmadaw Troops, 1 RCSS Soldier Killed in 4 Days of Fighting in Mong Kung

Economics
Myanmar exports to the US surpass imports in first two months
Myanmar permits 24 more investment - Xinhua | English.news.cn
Yangon firm “implements” Bago industrial park without known EIA
Govt racks up larger debt, but more is local
Textiles a key focus of trade push between Myanmar and Taiwan
Myanmar’s regional trade hits US$2.25 billion
In Person | New, Improved Deal on China-Backed Kyaukphyu SEZ Due Soon: Deputy Minister
Myanmar’s economic future hinges on reforming state-owned enterprises
Myanmar steps towards debt trap
Govt Approves Sites For 3 New Economic Zones Along China Border

Energy
PTTEP urges Myanmar to start gas power plant project
Myanmar discusses enhancement of bilateral cooperation and relations with Lao
China’s ambitious plans to power Southeast Asia
Myanmar joins International Solar Alliance

Financial Services
Retailers flag need to regulate e-commerce industry

Food & Agriculture
Edible crops not allowed to be genetically modified
Agri-sector to receive boost
Projects being drawn to establish agri-zones in Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw 
Govt calls for private sector invest-ments to manage food safety issues

Health & Life Sciences
Progress towards universal health coverage in Myanmar
Govt will enforce rule to provide instructions for products
Govt ministries unite to take national nutrition plan forward
Doctors, Vendors in Bitter Battle for Space at Yangon People's Hospital
After delay, Disability Rights rules and regulations published
VP calls for continuous health campaigns for mothers, children
Government ‘hasn’t relaxed death penalty’
Myanmar to send workers to Japan to care for the elderly
Providing international standard healthcare services in Myanmar
Medical council looking into death of patient

ICT
Telenor plans digital tech course for 100,000 students
Facebook Unveils New Strategy to Remove Hate Speech, Fake News

Travel & Tourism
Taiwan boosts tourism cooperation with Myanmar
Myanmar grants free visa allowances to Asian visitors
Myanmar's aviation industry stalls as third airline suspends operations
AirAsia Launches Low-Fare Route from Yangon to Chiang Mai
Vietjet offers tickets priced at 0 VND at Myanmar tourism expo
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

What’s Next for China-Myanmar Security Relations? The Diplomat 26th Jul 2018
A closer look at areas that both sides have been looking at within this aspect of ties. Last week, China and Myanmar convened the latest iteration of a bilateral security meeting. Though this was just one of a series of growing interactions that has been underway between the two countries over the past few years, it once again put the focus on Beijing’s role in the Southeast Asian state and the opportunities and challenges for both sides on the security aspect of their relations.

Over 1000 workers return from Thailand The Myanmar Times 26th Jul 2018
According to a statement by Myanmar’s Ministry of Home Affairs, 724 Myanmar workers returned on Sunday and 1029 returned on Monday and Tuesday.  However, “no migrant workers from Myanmar have been arrested and repatriated,” U San Maung Oo, labour attaché at the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, told The Myanmar Times on Wednesday.

Myanmar To Follow Malaysia, Will Ask China To Downsize Port Project Under Its One Belt One Road Initiative Swarajyamag 26th Jul 2018
Amid growing backlash against China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Myanmar has said it will ask Beijing to downsize the special economic zone project it is working on in the country’s Rakhine state, Nikkei reports. China is building a special zone in Kyaukpyu, located on Myanmar’s Indian Ocean coast, at a cost of $10 billion. The project includes a 1,000-hectare industrial park and a port, which once complete will be the country’s largest.

National Affairs

President nominates Central Bank governor for another term Frontier Myanmar 26th Jul 2018
YANGON—President U Win Myint has nominated Central Bank Governor U Kyaw Kyaw Maung for another five-year term, in a move that is likely to disappoint those hoping for a change in leadership at the bank. The president informed parliament of the nomination this morning and lawmakers are expected to approve it in the coming days. Kyaw Kyaw Maung’s five-year term was due to expire on July 31. Under the 2013 Central Bank Law, the governor can serve two consecutive terms. 

Third Panglong: was it a success? The Myanmar Times 26th Jul 2018
In her closing remarks, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi called the outcome of the conference a milestone, adding that the signing of the second part of the accord “is an indication that our conference has not stopped or turned back, but is progressing forward [despite] difficulties.”   Still, there are doubts whether the outcome had resolved the armed conflict along the country’s borders. In fact, many of the 14 points agreed on, such as gender equality, are already contained in the 2008 Constitution.

Govt Peace Commission starts meetings with armed ethnic groups The Myanmar Times 25th Jul 2018
The government’s Peace Commission held separate meetings with the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO) and the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army (RCSS/SSA) in Chiang Mai, Thailand, days after the end of the conference on July 16. The meetings aimed to enhance trust between the government and armed ethnic groups through the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), said representatives who attended the meeting on Friday.

Key member resigns from Myanmar advisory panel on Rakhine Frontier Myanmar 25th Jul 2018
YANGON — A key member of an international advisory panel on Rakhine State has resigned, telling AFP on Saturday that the Daw Aung San Suu Kyi-appointed board risks becoming “part of the problem” in a conflict that forced some 700,000 people, mostly Rohingya Muslims, to flee. Retired Thai lawmaker and ambassador Mr Kobsak Chutikul was secretary for the panel hand-picked by civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi to advise her government on how to handle the aftermath of a military campaign that drove the minority out of the country.

Linking Myanmar’s peace process and OBOR Shan Herald Agency for New [English] 18th Jul 2018
The stagnation of Myanmar’s ongoing peace process is well known, which has started out in 2011 by the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP)-led Thein Sein regime. The peace process is taken over by the National League for Democracy (NLD) government headed  by Aung San Suu Kyi in 2016, following her party’s landslide election victory in November 2015. But heightened  military offensives by Tatmadaw or Myanmar Army in ethnic states, particularly in Shan and Kachin States, and disagreements over how to go about to conduct the peace negotiation process have contributed to the lack of progress that ushered in the stagnation.

Panglong keeps hopes alive in Myanmar The Nation 17th Jul 2018
Talking to people is better than firing guns at them. The third session of the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference concluded on Monday with the adoption of 14 more basic principles that are designed to bring about peace and reconciliation in Myanmar. The roadmap is broadening and growing more detailed, but it also reveals how much further there is to go. The goal is marked, but the path to it is difficult. 

KNPP to hold another negotiation with Gov’t in August on signing the NCA Burma News International 17th Jul 2018
Although the KNPP negotiated with the Peace Commission in Naypyidaw on July 12, the plan for signing the NCA has been pushed back due to differences of opinion. “We are still on the NCA path. We are still negotiating for the signing of the NCA,” said Shwe Myo Thant. The KNPP will be close to signing the NCA if they are able to reach an agreement in the negotiation.

First United Nations office opens in Nay Pyi Taw The Myanmar Times 17th Jul 2018
According to the department, the new office comes at a significant moment as the General Assembly recently approved a UN reform that aims to strengthen the organisation’s ability to effectively support governments and people in need.

Myanmar peace process makes little progress- News - - English NHK WORLD 16th Jul 2018
A 3rd meeting aimed at ending civil war between ethnic minority militants and Myanmar government forces has ended without much progress. The 6-day meeting, led by Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, ended on Monday in the capital Naypyidaw. She met 10 ethnic militias that had signed a ceasefire accord with the government.

Market Development

Ethnic businesses urged to achieve peace through economic development The Myanmar Times 25th Jul 2018
“There are 135 ethnicities in Myanmar. We want the association to support all the ethnic people and promote peace through economic advancement and growth,” said U Yaw Set, chair of the MEEA. The objectives of the MEEA are to ensure sustainability of growth among ethnic entrepreneurs across the nation and help them promote their businesses through connecting with other ethnic businesses as well as local and foreign investors. 

Foreigners can buy shares at YSX in August | Eleven Myanmar Eleven Myanmar 24th Jul 2018
From August, foreigners can start buying shares at Yangon Stock Exchange (YSX), said Aung Naing Oo, Director-General of Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) at an event to clarify the Myanmar Companies Law 2017 and company procedures, at Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry on July 23.

New rules for private schools Frontier Myanmar 17th Jul 2018
ON AN AFTERNOON in late May, uniformed children are enjoying their lunch break. Some play football while others rest in shaded areas of the Yangon campus. To most observers this looks like an international school – but in the eyes of the government it is a business like any other. Instead of being overseen by the Ministry of Education, it’s registered as a company with the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration. Although Myanmar already has a Private School Registration Law, it only applies to those that teach the national curriculum.

New Chair of Kyaukphyu SEZ Wary of Chinese Loans The Irrawaddy 17th Jul 2018
YANGON — Myanmar will endeavor to take on no loans from China to complete the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) but would offer the developer no sovereign guarantees to mitigate risk if it does, said the project’s new chairman, seeking to allay fears of a debt trap. Sean Turnell, an economic adviser to State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has called the expense of the $7.5-billion project “crazy” and “absurd” and warned of a repeat of Sri Lanka’s experience.

Myanmar permits local and foreign investment in mining Mining Technology 16th Jul 2018
Myanmar’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC) has announced that local and foreign investment in mining operations in the country will be permitted, following an assessment of the industry’s environmental impacts.

Customs

A dozen customs officials charged after bribery complaint The Myanmar Times 26th Jul 2018
The commission on Monday said the allegations against the customs officials under the Ministry of Planning and Finance were true. They were charged under Section 56/63 of the 2013 Anti-Corruption Commission law. Since taking office as president, U Win Myint announced that he will effectively crack down on corrupt government officials.

Falling kyat value hurting trade, widens deficit The Myanmar Times 26th Jul 2018
While the dearer exchange rate will likely have an impact on imports and inflation as petrol, raw materials and consumer goods become more expensive, exporters should stand to gain. Yet, businesses involved in exporting say this isn’t the case. One reason is businesses must import require materials to add value to the finished product, so the higher value of the dollar eats into production costs anyway, said U Hnin Oo, vice chair of the Myanmar Shrimp Association.

Chinese demand for Myanmar cotton could surge on trade war with US The Myanmar Times 26th Jul 2018
China has imported cotton from the US for the past 10 years. Last month though, US President Donald Trump imposed $50 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese imports, which includes agriculture. That sparked the ongoing trade war between the two countries, with China retaliating by slapping tariffs on agriculture imports from the US. Now, China is interested in importing Myanmar cotton, said U Aung Myint, secretary of the Cotton Product Merchant and Manufacturers Association. “Despite being able to also import cotton from India as an alternative to the US, China has offered to buy from Myanmar instead because we do not charge import duties on cotton yet,” he said.

Defense & Security

12 Tatmadaw Troops, 1 RCSS Soldier Killed in 4 Days of Fighting in Mong Kung The Irrawaddy 13th Jul 2018
MON STATE — Twelve Myanmar Army troops and one Restoration Council of Shan State soldier have been killed in this week’s armed clashes in Mong Kung Township, according to separate reports from the organization and an aligned media outlet on Friday. An undisclosed number of RCSS troops have been injured, according to a spokesperson for the group. Four days of fighting in Mong Kung have also forced hundreds of ethnic Shan to flee their villages, according to local sources.

Economics

Myanmar exports to the US surpass imports in first two months Mizzima 26th Jul 2018
Myanmar’s exports to the United States surpassed imports in the first two months of the six-month interim period (April to September) prior to the 2018-2019 fiscal year. Myanmar’s trade with the United States was worth US$172.5 million, with exports worth $112 million and imports worth $60.4 million, according to statistics provided by the commerce ministry.

Myanmar permits 24 more investment - Xinhua | English.news.cn Xinhua 26th Jul 2018
YANGON, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar Investment Commission has recently permitted 24 more investments, creating over 11,200 job opportunities, the official Global New Light of Myanmar reported Saturday.

Yangon firm “implements” Bago industrial park without known EIA The Myanmar Times 26th Jul 2018
Bago’s regional government has released its investment report for the last two years on July 20. A domestic investment involving K1 billion was approved in 2016-17 and four others involving K319 billion in 2017-18. In 2017-18, the approved total investment amount soared owing to the Hantharwady industrial park proposal, which accounts for K222 billion (US$545 million), which is developed by Hantharwady Development Public Company.

Govt racks up larger debt, but more is local The Myanmar Times 26th Jul 2018
That’s more than half the K11.7 in debt racked up by U Thein Sein’s former administration during its entire five-year term.  However, while U Thein Sein’s Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) government borrowed pretty much equally from both domestic and foreign sources, around three quarters of the NLD’s debt is internal. This includes debt owed to the Central Bank and local banks that subscribe to government bonds and bills.

Textiles a key focus of trade push between Myanmar and Taiwan The Nation 25th Jul 2018
Myo Thet, vice president of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), said the agreements would help boost bilateral economic ties, reflecting Taiwan’s pledge to support Myanmar with capacity building and technical assistance in core sectors including textile and food processing.  The agreements were signed at the event on Tuesday with the Chinese National Federation of Industries.

Myanmar’s regional trade hits US$2.25 billion Mizzima 24th Jul 2018
Regional trade between Myanmar and its ASEAN neighbours through sea routes and border gates amounted to US$2.25 billion in the first two months of the six-month interim period prior to the 2018-2019 fiscal year, state media reported.

In Person | New, Improved Deal on China-Backed Kyaukphyu SEZ Due Soon: Deputy Minister The Irrawaddy 23rd Jul 2018
YANGON — Since the 2015 elections that swept the National League for Democracy (NLD) to power, the government has been negotiating with the China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC) to raise Myanmar’s stake in the Kyaukphyu SEZ in Rakhine State. The shareholders agreement CITIC struck with the previous government, under President Thein Sein, just before the election gives the Chinese developer an 85 percent stake in the project and Myanmar the rest. Critics of the project have raised concerns that the deal could land Myanmar in a debt trap with China.

Myanmar’s economic future hinges on reforming state-owned enterprises The Myanmar Times 17th Jul 2018
Yet these entities have remained “black boxes”, with their activities and finances shrouded in secrecy. Over the past two years, the Renaissance Institute and the Natural Resource Governance Institute have worked with the Ministry of Planning and Finance to identify concrete steps that the government can take to improve SOE performance and rationalise their finances. Through our research on natural resource SOEs, such as the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) and Myanmar Gems Enterprise (MGE), we have discovered some remarkable facts.

Myanmar steps towards debt trap Asean Economist 15th Jul 2018
Myanmar plans to reduce the cost of the Chinese-backed Kyaukpyu special economic zone and port, cap its external debt load and avoid repeating the debts of Sri Lanka’s Hambantota development, according to a lobby group. But heavy debts might be an inevitable consequence of spending billions on a project that appears to be far more advantageous to Beijing than Nay Pyi Taw. 

Govt Approves Sites For 3 New Economic Zones Along China Border The Irrawaddy 13th Jul 2018
YANGON — The government approved sites for three “economic cooperation zones” in Kachin and Shan states along Myanmar’s border with China on Thursday as part of Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, according to the chief minister of Kachin State.

Energy

PTTEP urges Myanmar to start gas power plant project The Myanmar Times 26th Jul 2018
If the project goes forward, it will be handled by PTTEP International Co Yangon Branch, the company’s wholly owned subsidiary in Myanmar. Piya Sukhumpanumet, general manager of PTTEP International, said the plan is to partner up with sister firm Global Power Synergy Plc (GPSC) on the project.

Myanmar discusses enhancement of bilateral cooperation and relations with Lao | Eleven Myanmar Eleven Myanmar 25th Jul 2018
Kyaw Tin, Minister for International Cooperation, received Saleumxay Kommasith, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nay Pyi Taw on July 24. At the meeting, they discussed matters relating to the enhancement of bilateral cooperation and implementation of MoU on cooperation in electric power sector.

China’s ambitious plans to power Southeast Asia The Nation 23rd Jul 2018
Meanwhile countries such as Thailand have energy shortfalls while energy-rich countries such as Laos need to sell their surplus. China believes it can help solve these problems through developing a power grid infrastructure managed by its state-owned company China Southern Power Grid (CSG). Already CSG is working with Laos to develop that country’s electricity infrastructure and it plans to create a regional power grid that will link China, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia.

Myanmar joins International Solar Alliance Jagranjosh.com 20th Jul 2018
Myanmar on July 19, 2018 joined the India-initiated International Solar Alliance (ISA), thus, becoming the 68th signatory to the Framework Agreement of the ISA that aims for optimum utilisation of solar energy. Myanmar Minister for International Cooperation, Kyaw Tin handed over the ISA Framework Agreement to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during a bilateral meeting on this year's Delhi Dialogue.

Financial Services

Retailers flag need to regulate e-commerce industry The Myanmar Times 26th Jul 2018
Retailers say that while a rising number of consumers are now purchasing goods from individuals and businesses online, many have no legal recourse when the products they receive are damaged or simply not what they ordered. As such, regulations should be put in place to protect consumers. The association suggested making it compulsory for e-commerce platforms and the businesses or individuals using such platforms to trade to pre-register. 

Food & Agriculture

Edible crops not allowed to be genetically modified The Myanmar Times 26th Jul 2018
Currently, the National Seeds Committee which is chaired by deputy minister U HlaKyaw holds monthly meetings for issuing certificates to newly modified seeds. “We have examined crops to see if they are genetically modified or not. At present, edible crops haven’t been allowed for genetic modification,” Dr Ye Tint Tun said on July 18.

Agri-sector to receive boost The Myanmar Times 26th Jul 2018
The strategy covers productivity, competitiveness and governance. Annual budget allocations are K490 billion in 2018-19, K580 billion in 2019-20, K670 billion in 2020-21, K700 in 2021-22 and K680 billion in 2022-23. 52.7pc will be used for productivity, covering projects for irrigation, water resources, research, education, crop cultivation, livestock and fisheries, resilience to climate change. 33pc will be used for improving competitiveness, such as rural infrastructure, community development, value chain development and food safety. For good governance, 10.6pc of total investment will be allocated. Governance will cover planning, coordination, communication and policy making.

Projects being drawn to establish agri-zones in Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw | Eleven Myanmar Eleven Myanmar 20th Jul 2018
Projects are being drawn to establish agricultural zones in Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw in order to manufacture agro-based products and finished goods, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation. In Myanmar's agricultural development strategy and investment programme, the ministry has pledged to establish such agricultural zones in the agricultural assistance plan stage (2) of Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS).

Govt calls for private sector invest-ments to manage food safety issues The Myanmar Times 19th Jul 2018
“There is a role for the private sector in encouraging the supply and usage of safe quantities of inputs pesticides and veterinary drugs, raising awareness and providing education and training for farmers and enterprises along the food supply chain,” he said.

Health & Life Sciences

Progress towards universal health coverage in Myanmar The Lancet 26th Jul 2018
The Article1 by Su Myat Han and colleagues in The Lancet Global Health is, perhaps, the first public, quantitative analysis of national health care and health financing indicators in Myanmar and provides a valuable starting point for further analysis of the country's health system and health policies. This cross-sectional study was based on data from surveys done in 2010 and 2016, provides a potential baseline for further monitoring and measurement of progress, and identifies priority areas that need to be addressed. To provide context for the analysis and interpretation of these data, the authors have included a brief update on country-level health financing and health service capacity indicators. However, further descriptive information about the policy and institutional framework for universal health coverage (UHC) in Myanmar would strengthen the analysis.

Govt will enforce rule to provide instructions for products The Myanmar Times 18th Jul 2018
This is in adherence to the 2014 Consumer Protection Law, which states that businesses must provide information and a guide on how their products should be consumed or used. This must be provided in Myanmar language while other languages may also be included, the committee said.   The required information includes usage instructions such as the right dosage for medicines and a proper how-to-use manual for electronics and other tools and gadgets. It must also include details on where the product is manufactured, according to the committee’s announcement. .  Businesses will have six months to comply with the official notification, once it is released. No date was given as to when this will take place.

Govt ministries unite to take national nutrition plan forward The Myanmar Times 18th Jul 2018
He said government ministries will cooperate to accelerate and optimise the National Plan of Action on Nutrition, which aims to reduce malnutrition over the next five years.  Beside Health and Sports, the ministries involved are Education; Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement; and Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation. “We used to directly contribute to the nutritional programme such as by distributing medicine for anaemia, but now we will cooperate with other ministries to reach our target of reducing malnutrition among people through more indirect ways, such as education,” Dr Lwin Mar Hlaing told The Myanmar Times.

Doctors, Vendors in Bitter Battle for Space at Yangon People's Hospital The Irrawaddy 17th Jul 2018
Hospital officials say the hawkers and vendors pose a serious problem to their operations and hurt the image of the 2,000-bed facility, which sits in a 35-acre compound in downtown Yangon. “They not only litter but also relieve themselves in and outside the patient wards. And they also hang their clothes all over the place. So the hospital doesn’t look good at all,” said Dr. Thein Myint, who heads the hospital’s gastrointestinal department. The hospital has 27 special departments with three operating theaters. It receives approximately 1,800 inpatients daily and has more than 2,000 staff including doctors and nurses.

After delay, Disability Rights rules and regulations published The Myanmar Times 16th Jul 2018
The rules and regulations were released by the ministry in December 2017, more than two years after the law was enacted. However, it took over six months more to release them in booklet form. “The rules of the Disability Rights Law were drawn up in full cooperation with disability associations and disabled people, Deputy Social Welfare Minister U Soe Aung said at their launch on July 6. “The regulations describe in detail methods that are easily implemented, what the law stipulates, and their systematic enforcement,” U Soe Aung said.

VP calls for continuous health campaigns for mothers, children The Myanmar Times 16th Jul 2018
“Public awareness campaigns on healthcare for women and children must be done continuously to reduce the infantile mortality rate,” he said during a ceremony to mark World Population Day on Wednesday in Nay Pyi Taw. About 2700 mothers die every year in Myanmar. Deaths caused by complications during an abortion constitute 12 percent of the total, making it the third highest health hazard.

Government ‘hasn’t relaxed death penalty’ The Myanmar Times 16th Jul 2018
Since the National League for Democracy (NLD) came to power in 2016, of the 66 criminals who have received death sentences, 33 are appealing their sentences, he said. Although death penalties are still handed out by courts in Myanmar, no prisoners have been executed since 1988. 

Myanmar to send workers to Japan to care for the elderly The Myanmar Times 16th Jul 2018
The workers will be sent via members of the Myanmar Overseas Employment Agencies Federation, according to officials of the federation and the Labour Ministry. “We have finished discussions with the ministry regarding their policies for sending the workers,” U Peter Nyunt Maung, president of the federation, told The Myanmar Times this week.

Providing international standard healthcare services in Myanmar The Myanmar Times 16th Jul 2018
How did you come up with the idea to build the hospital in Myanmar where healthcare facilities and referral centers from famous hospitals have increased over the years? The original idea came from a group of Myanmar Professors who would like to cooperate with one famous local investor to build a new hospital in Yangon with international standard. Fortunately, Thailand based Thonburi Healthcare Group who has been expanding investment in many countries was also looking for a potential joint venture, thus why.

Medical council looking into death of patient The Myanmar Times 16th Jul 2018
Dr Wai Myint, associate secretary of the Myanmar Medical Council, said on July 9: “We are looking into the case now and cannot say anything beyond that as the investigation is ongoing.” U Thin Myint, the father of the deceased, lodged a complaint with the council on June 21 following the death of his daughter in a private hospital in Yangon.

ICT

Telenor plans digital tech course for 100,000 students The Myanmar Times 26th Jul 2018
“In the next year, we plan to expand this project and we expect to train about 100,000 students,” he said at a ceremony marking the end of Telenor Myanmar’s summer technology and internet courses in Nay Pyi Taw on Saturday.  Telenor Myanmar has provided information and communication technology training to about 25,000 middle school and high school students throughout the nation.

Facebook Unveils New Strategy to Remove Hate Speech, Fake News The Irrawaddy 20th Jul 2018
YANGON — Facebook is preparing to roll out a new strategy to take down fake content that could incite violence in Myanmar, a company spokesperson said on Wednesday. Under the new policy, the company will work with local civil society groups to identify misinformation, and when a post is found to include false claims that could provoke unrest, it will be removed from the social media platform.

Travel & Tourism

Taiwan boosts tourism cooperation with Myanma... Taiwan News 26th Jul 2018
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – In an attempt to attract a larger number of tourists from Myanmar, Taiwan's Tourism Bureau organized the first overseas tourism workshop in the Southeast Asian nation. In a press release issued on July 20, the Tourism Bureau stated that the number of tourists coming from Myanmar has seen a significant increase of 58 percent from January to May of this year, which is a result of the New Southbound Policy's simplified visa application for Southeast Asian tourists.

Myanmar grants free visa allowances to Asian visitors The Myanmar Times 26th Jul 2018
The developments comes after local tourism has taken a hit from dwindling visitors from the West, who have scaled down travel to Myanmar in view of the refugee crisis in Rakhine. It also coincides with the enforcement of the new Myanmar Companies Law on August 1, which will enable foreign investors to own up to 30 percent in the shares of local companies and grant investors up to 7 years of tax free operations.

Myanmar's aviation industry stalls as third airline suspends operations Nikkei Asian Review 26th Jul 2018
YANGON/TOKYO -- Myanmar's airline industry, touted as the last frontier in Asia, already appears caught in a downdraft as a third domestic carrier says it will ground operations. "Operating in Myanmar's aviation sector has become increasingly challenging," FMI Air said in a statement Monday. The company decided to suspend activities, citing the fiercely competitive market.

AirAsia Launches Low-Fare Route from Yangon to Chiang Mai The Irrawaddy 23rd Jul 2018
YANGON — AirAsia has unveiled a new route from Yangon to Chiang Mai, with flights to the northern Thai destination due to start on Aug. 11. The airline will operate the flight three times a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Vietjet offers tickets priced at 0 VND at Myanmar tourism expo vietnamplus.vn 19th Jul 2018
HCM City (VNA) – Low cost carrier Vietjet will offer hundreds of tickets priced at 0 VND along with many exciting activities at its booth at the Myanmar International Tourism Expo 2018 from July 20 to July 22 at Tatmadaw Exhibition Hall (Yangon).