Myanmar Update: November 9, 2018

Myanmar Update | November 9, 2018
Authors: Riley Smith, Jack Myint and Monica Chritton
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

December 10, 2018: Myanmar SME Workshop
Just prior the Council's 2018 Senior Executives Business Mission to Myanmar on December 11-13, the Council is pleased to invite Members’ participation in a one-day Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) workshop titled “Digital Transformation to Boost SME Competitiveness” in Yangon, Myanmar. This workshop will be conducted in close collaboration with the US ICT Council for Myanmar, Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), and Max Myanmar. Click here to see the workshop draft agenda. Please contact Vinsensius Kangen at vkangen@usasean.org with any questions or to express interest.

December 11, 2018 - December 13, 2018: 2018 Myanmar Business Mission
Requested meetings for the 2018 Myanmar Business Mission include: President U Win Myint, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Key Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament including Speaker of the Pyithu Hluttaw (Lower House) U T Khun Myat, Myanmar Investment Commission, and the UMFCCI. Please contact Jack Myint at jmyint@usasean.org with any questions or to express interest.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Ministry of Energy and Electricity Expects Higher Electricity Demand, Prepares Additional Supply
Due to higher expected demand for electricity this fiscal year, the Ministry of Electricity and Energy (MOEE) is increasing its power supply to 3700 MW from the 3400 MW for the current period, according to the Myanmar Times. Electricity consumption is expected to increase 19% this fiscal year, compared to the typical 15% increase seen in past years. A majority of Myanmar’s electricity currently comes from hydropower and gas-powered plants; the Government aims for the increase in the power supply to come from the gas-powered plants.

Last year, the MOEE set plans to double its electricity power capacity by 2021, and quadruple it by 2030 to meet the country’s increasing energy needs. Myanmar aims to build four plants by 2021 to increase generation capacity by 3100 MW. The plants will mostly use imported liquefied natural gas (LNG). According to the Asian Development Bank’s 2017 Myanmar Energy Consumption Surveys Report, Myanmar’s potential is “severely constrained by limited energy infrastructure”, which has resulted in the country’s lowest per capita energy consumption rates in the world. Enabling Myanmar’s power industry is integral to facilitating economic growth.

EU Considers Sanctions, While "Little U.S. Appetite" Exists for Broad Sanctions
On October 3, Reuters reported that three European Union (EU) officials have said the EU is considering placing trade sanctions on Myanmar. If imposed, the sanctions could place a particular strain on Myanmar’s clothing industry. According to Al Jazeera, the European Chamber of Commerce estimates that trade sanctions, specifically the removal of tariff-free trading with the EU under its Everything But Arms (EBA) program, would harm the livelihoods of 500,000 households and affect up to 2 million people.

Talk of imposing sanctions by the EU comes after the release of a United Nations (UN) report in August that identified “genocidal intent” as a motivation for Myanmar army operations in Rakhine state last year targeting Rohingya Muslims. Just prior to the release of the UN report, the United States, in a rare move, imposed sanctions on two whole military units, in addition to four military and police commanders, for what the Treasury Department called “violent campaigns” against Rohingya Muslims and other ethnic minority communities, “including ethnic cleansing.” (For more information on the U.N. report, see our previous update here).

However, despite the talk of sanctions by the EU, it appears that the United States is sticking with its approach of imposing targeted sanctions. The Reuters report on the EU’s consideration of potentially broad sanctions also states that “there appears to be little U.S. appetite” for re-imposing broad economic sanctions on Myanmar. A U.S. State Department investigation on the Rohingya crisis that was released after the most recent sanctions were imposed found “well-planned and coordinated” violence, but the report did not declare these to constitute genocide or crimes against humanity. Reuters previously reported that the State Department report could be used to justify further targeted sanctions or other punitive measures.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

Regional Affairs
Thailand, Singapore to push Myanmar on Rohingya repatriation
Australia slaps sanctions on Myanmar army top brass
Indian Foreign Secretary meets with State Counsellor
Bangladesh faces Catch-22 over Rohingyas
Myanmar welcomes more investment from Hong Kong
8000 Rohingyas to return to Myanmar soon, FM tells ASEM Summit

National Affairs
Voters had little awareness of by-elections: observers
Myanmar Democracy: Small Steps on a Long Journey
Myanmar's Ruling Party Wins 7 of 13 By-Election Seats
By-elections: a wakeup call for the NLD
Peace meetings including PPST suspended
Analysis: Why Did the KNU Temporarily Leave Peace Talks?
Myanmar, partners to build 1500 shelters for refugees’ return to northern Rakhine
Karenni Army Clashes With Myanmar Forces in Kayah State, Breaking Bilateral Cease-fire
Myanmar's peace hangs in the balance
Anti-corruption programme launched for school kids

Economics
FDI will take a hit if EU removes GSP: DICA
Myanmar still weak in enforcing contracts, protecting minority investors
Mandalay Region sets new maximum property price at K10 billion per acre
FATF to review Myanmar over money laundering concerns
Myanmar seeks to boost savings
Problems rise for micro-finance borrowers
Myanmar presents plan to attract over $200 billion in foreign investment
Is Myanmar still an attractive investment destination?
Cash flow problems
Getting Myanmar moving

Energy
Exploratory oil well starts work in Myanaung
US$500 million power plant set to take shape in Ahlone
Myanmar-Singapore joint venture increases capital in aviation fuel import
Mitsubishi Electric to Supply High-Voltage Switchgear and Transformers to Myanmar
Greater state-regional effort against climate change urged
Fuel-efficient cooking stoves in 22,000 households in Mandalay
Govt readies additional supply of electricity to meet demand
Myanmar To Auction Off 31 New Oil And Gas Blocks

Financial Services
Can mobile banking overcome Myanmar’s trust issues?

Food & Agriculture
Whisky mogul takes aim at foreign liquor producers over illegal imports
UNDP, Norway boost conservation of Inle Lake
Govt out to boost export potential of 15 crops
More than 2000 hectares of seized land in Mandalay returned to original owners
Poppy farmers seek comprehensive solution to illicit drug problem
Myanmar draws up agricultural development master plan for Yangon region
Govt eases cattle export controls to spur growth

Health & Life Sciences
A hard life for the disabled in the Chin hills
Malaria Cases in Myanmar See Huge Drop, Thanks to Efforts by Community Health Workers
Lung cancer on the rise in Myanmar
Mental illness: Myanmar’s hidden epidemic

ICT
Officials Still Using Telecom Law to Silence Critics Despite Amendments
Myanmar eyes e-commerce for jobs, trade and economic growth
Internet freedom rating drops in Myanmar: FEM

Infrastructure
Myanmar agrees smaller deal for China-backed port after 'debt-trap' concern
Gov’t Inks Agreement with Chinese Firm to Develop Kyaukphyu SEZ
China hopes to enhance economic corridor construction with Myanmar: CPC official
Road linking Myanmar and Thailand to be upgraded
China, Myanmar look into railway project linking Muse to Mandalay
China, Myanmar sign MoU on feasibility study of Muse-Mandalay railway
Mandalay port development project to take off early next year
Govt explores possibility of cement plant in Chin

Manufacturing
Trade sanctions? The EU needs to learn from 2003
Myanmar manufacturing PMI in contraction for 4th month

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Thailand, Singapore to push Myanmar on Rohingya repatriation Bangkok Post 24th Oct 2018
The Singapore and Thai foreign ministers will travel to Myanmar "soon" to thrash out a deal for the safe repatriation to Myanmar of the more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said Tuesday. The Asean-approved mission to Myanmar is likely to set the tone for the Asean leaders' meeting in mid-November, where the Rohingya issue is expected to top the agenda.

Australia slaps sanctions on Myanmar army top brass Bangkok Post 23rd Oct 2018
Australia on Tuesday slapped travel and financial sanctions on five top Myanmar military officers, accused of overseeing brutal violence against Rohingya Muslims by units under their command, following similar moves by the European Union and United States. More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh year, according to UN agencies, following a counter-insurgency operation launched by Myanmar's military after attacks on security posts by Rohingya militants in August last year.

Indian Foreign Secretary meets with State Counsellor Mizzima 23rd Oct 2018
The Foreign Secretary of India, Shri Vijay Gokhale, paid an official visit to Myanmar on 22 October 2018. During the visit, he called on the State Counsellor, H.E. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. All matters relating to bilateral cooperation as well as matters pertaining to international and regional matters of common interest, including developments in Rakhine State were discussed during this meeting, according to a press release from the Indian Embassy in Yangon.

Bangladesh faces Catch-22 over Rohingyas Nikkei Asian Review 22nd Oct 2018
More than a year after massive numbers of Rohingya refugees began arriving in a southeastern section of the country, Bangladesh finds itself performing a delicate balancing act.

Myanmar welcomes more investment from Hong Kong Mizzima 22nd Oct 2018
A Myanmar Investment Promotion seminar was held on October 16 at Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong. The seminar was attended by Mr. Edward Yau, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development and Officials of Hong Kong SAR Government, Members of legislative council, Members of Hong Kong Development Council and Hong Kong Productivity council and representatives of over 130 Hong Kong firms and Hong Kong based foreign businesses. This is the second Myanmar Investment Promotion Seminar held in Hong Kong this year. It demonstrates Myanmar’s interest to deepen economic ties between Myanmar and Hong Kong, according to a statement.

8000 Rohingyas to return to Myanmar soon, FM tells ASEM Summit The Nation 20th Oct 2018
Bangladesh's Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali has expressed hope that the first batch of eight thousand Rohingya people would be able to return to their original villages in Rakhine State of Myanmar soon. Citing the issue of forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals who took shelter in Bangladesh, Minister Ali expressed his gratitude to the international community for their continued support to Bangladesh for resolving this complex issue with Myanmar.

National Affairs

Voters had little awareness of by-elections: observers The Myanmar Times 8th Nov 2018
Voters, especially in rural areas, had a low level of awareness about the recently concluded by-elections the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), an international election-watch group, said yesterday. ANFREL noted during a press briefing in Yangon that in many cases voters learned about the the by-election from the candidates who would come to campaign in rural areas. It also said there was little coverage about the by-election in the national media.

Myanmar Democracy: Small Steps on a Long Journey The Asia Foundation 7th Nov 2018
For decades, Myanmar was governed by a small military elite, accused of acting solely in their own interests. The introduction of a new constitution in 2008 was a dramatic and significant development, creating 14 new state and region governments and parliaments and the promise of democratic participation by a more diverse range of actors. At its heart, democratization in Myanmar means transforming a top-down, autocratic regime into a system that is responsive to the needs and aspirations of democratic constituencies at many levels—local, regional, and national—and establishing effective mechanisms of public administration to achieve them.

Myanmar's Ruling Party Wins 7 of 13 By-Election Seats New Straits Times 5th Nov 2018
Myanmar's ruling party led by Aung San Suu Kyi won just over half the seats in by-elections to fill 13 of the 1,171 seats in national, regional and state parliaments, according to complete preliminary results. Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy took seven of the 13 seats made vacant by death or resignation. Initial results for 12 races showed it had won six seats, and the delayed result for the 13th race, for a lower house constitutency in western Chin State, gave it its seventh victory.

By-elections: a wakeup call for the NLD The Myanmar Times 5th Nov 2018
The voting went ahead peacefully, which is a good reflection on the ruling National League for Democracy, but the results should serve as a wakeup call for the country’s first democratically elected government which came into power in 2016. Out of the 13 seats contested on Saturday’s by-elections the NLD won only seven seats, far below its expectations of winning a resounding majority of the seats. It means the NLD won only 54 percent, while the rest went to the other parties.

Peace meetings including PPST suspended Mizzima Myanmar News and Insight 3rd Nov 2018
Some peace meetings including the Peace Process Steering Team (PPST) of ten ethnic armed organizations (EAOs), which are the signatories of Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), have reportedly been suspended.

Analysis: Why Did the KNU Temporarily Leave Peace Talks? The Irrawaddy 29th Oct 2018
The Karen National Union said it would temporarily suspend its participation in all ongoing peace negotiations in a letter to State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the chairperson of the National Reconciliation and Peace Center, on Saturday. The KNU said in its letter that the suspension is necessary “in order to create meaningful participation of the organization in the peace process and to seek enough time for the creation of the unified participation of the whole organization.”

Myanmar, partners to build 1500 shelters for refugees’ return to northern Rakhine The Myanmar Times 23rd Oct 2018
Over 1500 shelters for displaced people will be built in northern Rakhine State by the Myanmar government, state and regional governments, international agencies, non-governmental groups and the Indian government, said U Nyi Pu chief minister of Rakhine. The construction of almost 500 shelters had been completed, U Nyi Phyu told a press conference last week.

Karenni Army Clashes With Myanmar Forces in Kayah State, Breaking Bilateral Cease-fire Radio Free Asia 22nd Oct 2018
The Myanmar Army and an ethnic armed group in eastern Myanmar’s Kayah state have blamed each other for breaching a bilateral cease-fire agreement during a weekend clash in Hpa Saung township that left no casualties. The national army’s Light Infantry Brigade 428 clashed with soldiers from the Karenni Army, the armed wing of the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) on Oct. 20. The KNPP signed a cease-fire accord to end hostilities with the Myanmar military in March 2012. The group had signed a previous cease-fire agreement with the former military government in 1995, but that pact held up for only three months.

Myanmar's peace hangs in the balance Bangkok Post 22nd Oct 2018
Myanmar's peace process is finely balanced, after the latest round of talks failed to produce anything of substance. Sitting comfortably and very relaxed, the chairman of the Myanmar ethnic rebel group, the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), Yawd Serk was happy to offer his insights into the recent summit between the government and the leaders of the ethnic groups, which have signed the national ceasefire agreement (NCA). Reflecting on the meeting he simply said "very tense". The other ethnic leaders in attendance had a similar opinion: "high drama" according to one, on condition of anonymity.

Anti-corruption programme launched for school kids The Myanmar Times 19th Oct 2018
The Anti-Corruption Commission Myanmar on Thursday launched a campaign in schools to try to raise awareness about the importance of integrity in public service and shunning corruption. The programme, launched in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Sports, will give some 40,000 teachers’ handbooks to help them teach students about the importance of integrity. “This programme is meant for primary-level children. It will be more effective using the teachers’ handbooks because they are easy to read and understand,” said Daw Aye Aye Mu of the Anti-Corruption Commission.

Economics

FDI will take a hit if EU removes GSP: DICA The Myanmar Times 8th Nov 2018
Foreign direct investments (FDI) will suffer a blow if the EU withdraws its Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), under which Myanmar enjoys easy trade access to the world’s largest trading block. EU FDI in Myanmar as well as FDI from countries which target the EU market through the country could take a hit should the EU cancel its GSP privileges to Myanmar, said U Aung Naing Oo, Director General from Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA).

Myanmar still weak in enforcing contracts, protecting minority investors The Myanmar Times 6th Nov 2018
In the newly-released World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business rankings, Myanmar ranks 171th out of 190 economies in the overall ease of doing business, unchanged from last year’s position. It is the third consecutive year where the country fails to advance its ranking, remaining as the worst place in ASEAN to conduct business.

Mandalay Region sets new maximum property price at K10 billion per acre The Myanmar Times 6th Nov 2018
The maximum price are for those properties is in Chan Mya Tharsi, Chan Aye Tharzan, Aung Myay Tharzan, Pyi Gyi Tagon, Maha Aung Myay and Amarapura townships in the Mandalay municipal area. 

FATF to review Myanmar over money laundering concerns Frontier Myanmar 5th Nov 2018
An assessment of Myanmar’s efforts to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing has found significant weaknesses, including a failure to recognise the “serious” money laundering risks that the country faces. The Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering released the Mutual Evaluation Report on October 22, three months after it was adopted at the APG annual meeting in July. The “poor results” on the evaluation mean Myanmar will automatically be reviewed by the International Co-operation Review Group of the Financial Action Task Force, and may be placed on a black or grey list following that review.

Myanmar seeks to boost savings The Myanmar Times 5th Nov 2018
Myanmar is drafting a National Savings Mobilisation Strategy to encourage citizens to save more, Deputy Minister of Planning and Finance U Maung Maung Win said yesterday at the World Savings Day forum held in collaboration with the Yangon University of Economics, UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and GIZ.

Problems rise for micro-finance borrowers The Myanmar Times 5th Nov 2018
Microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Myanmar have lent more than K3.9 trillion to three million small-scale borrowers since the business of microfinance emerged in the country up until February this year, according to Financial Regulatory Department under the Ministry of Planning and Finance.

Myanmar presents plan to attract over $200 billion in foreign investment Investvine 2nd Nov 2018
The Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) came up with an ambitious business plan that includes a major investment promotion strategy aiming to attract more than $200 billion through “responsible and quality businesses” over the next 20 years.

Is Myanmar still an attractive investment destination? The Myanmar Times 1st Nov 2018
Despite fierce domestic and international headwinds that have threatened to blow Myanmar’s fast-growing economy off course, executives who participated in Oxford Business Group’s latest Business Barometer: Myanmar CEO Survey remain broadly confident about the investment climate in Southeast Asia’s last great frontier market.

Cash flow problems Frontier Myanmar 31st Oct 2018
Exchange rates are highly political; in Myanmar, the ups and downs of the kyat are often considered a barometer of economic performance. In a broad sense, a weak kyat should be positive for a developing country like Myanmar, supporting export growth while dampening demand for imports. But volatility is not helpful. At the time of writing the kyat had lost almost 16 percent since April 1; on September 21, that stood at 18.3 percent. These numbers are indeed cause for concern, particularly if you have debts or other obligations denominated in US dollars.

Getting Myanmar moving Bangkok Post 22nd Oct 2018
Myanmar's economic outlook is extremely bleak, say many regional experts, and local business sentiment continues to slide downward. And with foreign investment down substantially from last year, future growth is likely to fall short of government targets. This combination of negative factors has led to an increasingly fractious relationship between the country's business community and the government -- the first democratically elected administration in decades.

Energy

Exploratory oil well starts work in Myanaung The Myanmar Times 6th Nov 2018
Drilling of an exploratory well – Shwesitaw Well No 1 in IOR 7 Block in Myanaung, Hinthada District, Ayeyarwady, has started on November 4. Based on 3D seismic survey data, oil and gas prospects were found in the block which Shwesitaw Well No 1 will explore. The target depth of the well is 2450 metres.

US$500 million power plant set to take shape in Ahlone Myanmar Times 31st Oct 2018
Toyo Thai Power Myanmar Co Ltd (TPMC) plans to invest between US$350 million (K471 billion) to US$500 million to set up a liquefied natural gas (LNG) power plant, U Htet Aung Mon, general manager of TTCL Power Myanmar said.

Myanmar-Singapore joint venture increases capital in aviation fuel import Mizzima Myanmar News and Insight 26th Oct 2018
A Myanmar-Singapore joint venture company has increased its capital injection by 10.2 million U.S. dollars in aviation fuel import, storage and distribution businesses, Xinhua has reported. The National Energy Puma Aviation Services Company is shared by state-owned Myanmar Petroleum Products Enterprises and Singapore-based Puma Energy with the Myanmar enterprise company holding more stake. With an initial capital of 106.02 million U.S. dollars, the joint venture business is operating Yangon's Thanlyin Liquefied Petroleum Gas Terminal since March 2016, the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration was quoted as saying.

Mitsubishi Electric to Supply High-Voltage Switchgear and Transformers to Myanmar TD World 24th Oct 2018
Myanmar is developing its electricity infrastructure to overcome power shortages due to the country’s rapid economic growth. As of this effort, the country is urgently refurbishing and upgrading its aging substations as a high-priority measure.

Greater state-regional effort against climate change urged The Myanmar Times 23rd Oct 2018
While Myanmar has drafted policies and initiated projects to address climate change, more needs to be done at the state and regional level, said U Than Aye, retired deputy director general of the Department of Environmental Conservation. Projects have been drawn up with the aim of reducing carbon emissions and making Myanmar better able to withstand the effects of climate change while still developing the country.

Fuel-efficient cooking stoves in 22,000 households in Mandalay Myanmar Times 23rd Oct 2018
Some 22,000 households in Mandalay Region are using fuel-efficient stoves as part of a government effort to reduce the use of firewood and the resulting destruction of forests and mangroves, according to the Mandalay Forestry Department.

Govt readies additional supply of electricity to meet demand The Myanmar Times 23rd Oct 2018
The rate of increase in electricity consumption typically rises by 15 percent per year on average. This fiscal year though, demand is expected to increase by 19pc. As such, the MOEE is aiming to raise supply to 3700 megawatts during the period, from 3400MW this year.

Myanmar To Auction Off 31 New Oil And Gas Blocks Oil Price 20th Oct 2018
On August 30 the Ministry of Electricity and Energy (MoEE) announced it would be opening fresh rounds of bidding for oil and gas blocks in the first half of next year, and there are plans to launch a tender for at least one onshore block before the end of 2018.

Financial Services

Can mobile banking overcome Myanmar’s trust issues? South China Morning Post 6th Nov 2018
Myanmar’s financial system has had its share of booms and busts. A 2003 banking crisis that led to a spate of panic withdrawals and a collapse in asset prices still looms large. However, with only 10 per cent of the country’s 53.9 million population owning bank accounts, the prospects for growth are huge. Still, trust remains a critical issue.

Food & Agriculture

Whisky mogul takes aim at foreign liquor producers over illegal imports Frontier Myanmar 6th Nov 2018
Several government officials have told Frontier that Aung Moe Kyaw has complained about illicit imports of foreign spirits, which have been banned since 1995 but are easily available because of rampant smuggling. U Myint Cho, the head of the Yangon Region Consumer Affairs Department, said Aung Moe Kyaw had even brought the issue up during a discussion with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in Nay Pyi Taw in late August.

UNDP, Norway boost conservation of Inle Lake The Myanmar Times 6th Nov 2018
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the government of Norway have joined in efforts to save one of the most scenic lakes in the country, Inle Lake in Shan State. The lake, which is one of the favourite tourist destinations in the country is experiencing environmental degradation due to the combined effects of unsustainable resource use, increasing population, climate change and rapid tourism development.

Govt out to boost export potential of 15 crops The Myanmar Times 5th Nov 2018
The government is set to issue Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) certificates for 15 types of crops in a bid to boost their export potential, said U Ye Tint Tun, director general of the Department of Agriculture under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation. “We’re going to issue GAP certificates for 15 kinds of crops. We set out 16 processes that have to be followed before we issue the certification. Farmers who can implement this process will get the certificates,” he told The Myanmar Times yesterday.

More than 2000 hectares of seized land in Mandalay returned to original owners The Myanmar Times 5th Nov 2018
The Ministry of Defence has returned to its original owners more than 2000 hectares farmland in Mandalay’s Thabeikkyin and Pyi Oo Lwin townships that the military and the government seized after 1988. Up to 445 hectares out of more than 1052 hectares of farmland seized by units under the Ministry of Defence and other government agencies in Thabeikkyin Township were given back to 124 farmers on October 30 along with temporary land use certificates, said U Tint Myint Swe, the regional member of parliament for Thabeikkyin Township.

Poppy farmers seek comprehensive solution to illicit drug problem The Myanmar Times 29th Oct 2018
Myanmar poppy farmers are calling on the government to come up with a comprehensive solution to resolve the drug problem in the country and to put an end to poppy cultivation. Myanmar is the second biggest opium poppy producer in the world after Afghanistan, despite efforts to fight the scourge by the government and international agencies such as the United Nations.

Myanmar draws up agricultural development master plan for Yangon region Mizzima Myanmar News and Insight 25th Oct 2018
Myanmar has drawn up a three-year master plan (2018-2021) for development of agriculture in Yangon region and the plan will soon be implemented, Myanmar News Agency reported Wednesday.  It was disclosed by Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein at a Flower Festival held at the People's Park Tuesday. 

Govt eases cattle export controls to spur growth The Myanmar Times 23rd Oct 2018
Cattle export licences, previously issued only in Nay Pyi Taw, will now be available in border towns as well for the convenience of exporters, said Ministry of Commerce Permanent Secretary U Yan Naing Tun. “We will issue licenses in Myitkyina (Kachin State), Kyaingtong and Tachileik (Shan State) soon because exporters currently have to incur additional costs and delays when they are required to go to Nay Pyi Taw to seek approval and apply for licences,” he said at a press conference on Thursday.

Health & Life Sciences

A hard life for the disabled in the Chin hills Frontier Myanmar 6th Nov 2018
Chin has one of the highest percentages by population of disabled people in Myanmar. The 2014 census found that 2.3 million people, or 4.6 percent of the population, live with a disability in Myanmar. Of that figure, 35,669 are in Chin where they account for 7.4 percent of the population, the second highest proportion nationally after Ayeyarwady Region’s 7.6 percent.

Malaria Cases in Myanmar See Huge Drop, Thanks to Efforts by Community Health Workers Radio Free Asia 1st Nov 2018
Instances of malaria in remote and rural locations of Myanmar have fallen dramatically during a six-year period as a result of trained community health care workers providing a wider package of services along with screenings for the disease transmitted by mosquitoes in tropical regions, a study has found..

Lung cancer on the rise in Myanmar The Myanmar Times 30th Oct 2018
Over 80 percent of patients who suffer lung cancer smoke or use other tobacco products, says a senior doctor at the Yangon Speciality Hospital. “The main risk factor that causes lung cancer is smoking. Other factors such as air pollution and contaminants from heavy industry can also be causes of lung cancer,” Professor Win Naing, head of the Department of Respiratory Medicine at the 500-bed hospital, said on Friday.

Mental illness: Myanmar’s hidden epidemic Frontier Myanmar 28th Oct 2018
A report released last year by the Ministry of Health and Sports showed some modest but important improvements in health indicators. In a worrying development though the report devoted less than a page to mental health.

ICT

Officials Still Using Telecom Law to Silence Critics Despite Amendments The Irrawaddy 6th Nov 2018
Changes to the Telecommunications Law have done little to halt its use by politicians and officials to silence their critics, with 62 legal cases having been filed under Article 66 (d) of the controversial legislation since it was amended in 2017. Of those cases, 20 were filed against perceived critics by lawmakers from the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) and government officials, and one similar case was filed by the military, according to Athan, an organization that advocates for freedom of expression.

Myanmar eyes e-commerce for jobs, trade and economic growth Mizzima Myanmar News and Insight 5th Nov 2018
Government officials, donors and partners have met to consider the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)'s appraisal of how e-commerce can boost Myanmar's economy and the next steps forward. The power of e-commerce to create jobs and increase trade in Myanmar was in the spotlight on 30 October, as government officials, development partners, donors and the private sector met in the southeast Asian nation’s capital Nay Pyi Taw to discuss ways to support online business, according to a press release.

Internet freedom rating drops in Myanmar: FEM Mizzima Myanmar News and Insight 1st Nov 2018
Myanmar’s nascent internet freedom has declined in 2018 for the second year in a row under the NLD according to US-based Freedom House’s annual report launched today. Myanmar’s score deteriorated from 61 to 63 in 2017 and worsened again to 64 in 2018. Myanmar is now almost as bad as Thailand’s military government, and significantly worse than the authoritarian regime in Cambodia.

Infrastructure

Myanmar agrees smaller deal for China-backed port after 'debt-trap' concern Channel NewsAsia 8th Nov 2018
Myanmar on Thursday signed an agreement with China's state-run CITIC Group to begin work on a deep-sea port in the west of the country, after negotiations that saw the initial phase of the project scaled back over fears of a "debt trap". Myanmar Deputy Minister of Planning and Finance Set Aung said Myanmar and CITIC signed a "framework agreement" for the port in Kyauk Pyu, in conflict-hit coastal Rakhine State.

Gov’t Inks Agreement with Chinese Firm to Develop Kyaukphyu SEZ The Irrawaddy 8th Nov 2018
After many rounds of negotiations, the Myanmar government and a Chinese company have inked a framework agreement for the development of a special economic zone (SEZ) in Rakhine State. The project will offer China access to the Bay of Bengal while enhancing its regional connectivity as part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Thanks to its strategic location between three economically vibrant and dynamic markets—China, India and ASEAN—the Kyaukphyu SEZ is uniquely positioned to serve as a trade corridor connecting the three economies.

China hopes to enhance economic corridor construction with Myanmar: CPC official Xinhua 7th Nov 2018
China hopes to strengthen with Myanmar on the construction of the two countries' economic corridor under the framework of Belt and Road Initiative, head of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Song Tao said here late Tuesday. Song made the remarks when he met with Chairperson of Myanmar's National League for Democracy (NLD) and State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi in Nay Pyi Taw.

Road linking Myanmar and Thailand to be upgraded Asia Times 5th Nov 2018
A proper highway will soon connect the planned special economic zone at Dawei in southeastern Myanmar with Thailand’s road network, The Irrawaddy, a Myanmar website, reported on November 2.

China, Myanmar look into railway project linking Muse to Mandalay South China Morning Post 23rd Oct 2018
Two state-owned companies, China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group and Myanmar Railways, signed an agreement on Monday to begin the study on a proposed rail line from Muse to Mandalay. Muse – a town in Myanmar’s northeastern Shan state that borders Yunnan province in southwest China – is the biggest land route for trade between the two nations, while railway service to central Mandalay could create a transport lifeline for the country’s north.

China, Myanmar sign MoU on feasibility study of Muse-Mandalay railway Mizzima Myanmar News and Insight 23rd Oct 2018
China and Myanmar signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Monday to conduct feasibility study of a railway linking Muse, a border town in Myanmar's northeastern Shan state, with Mandalay, the country's second largest city in the north. Under the MoU, inked between China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group Co. Ltd and state-run Myanma Railways, the feasibility study will be conducted within two years covering environmental and social impact assessment.

Mandalay port development project to take off early next year The Myanmar Times 19th Oct 2018
Work on the development of Mandalay Port is set to begin early next year, says the Directorate of Water Resources and Improvement of River Systems. The project, which is aimed at improving trade and transportation along inland waterways, will be implemented with the help of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) under an agreement signed on October 3, U Aung Myo Khaing, director of the directorate, said.

Govt explores possibility of cement plant in Chin Myanmar Times 2nd Nov 2018
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MNREC) is inviting expressions of interest (EOI) from foreign and local investors to conduct detailed feasibility studies and measurement of limestone deposits before considering the setting up of a cement plant in Chin State.

Manufacturing

Trade sanctions? The EU needs to learn from 2003 Frontier Myanmar 1st Nov 2018
A great contradiction of the move by the European Union to consider withdrawing trade privileges from Myanmar as punishment for the Rohingya crisis is that it is justified by the need to protect human rights. If the EU eventually withdraws the trade privileges granted under its Generalised Scheme of Preferences – a process that will take about a year – and the sanction is applied to all exports, the garment industry will be devastated. Hundreds of thousands of workers, mainly young, single women, will be at risk of losing their jobs, and if that happens the relatives who rely on their remittances will lose a lifeline.

Myanmar manufacturing PMI in contraction for 4th month Nikkei Asian Review 1st Nov 2018
Myanmar manufacturing sector remained in contraction for the fourth straight month, even though the pace of contraction is easing, a survey showed Thursday. The Nikkei Myanmar Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, or PMI, stood at 48.0 in October, compared with 47.5 in September. A reading above 50 indicates economic expansion, while a reading below 50 points toward contraction.