Myanmar president lands in Delhi for Modi’s swearing-in as PM: Why India values ties with Myanmar | India News Times Now Now 30th May 2019
The relationship between India and Myanmar may not have always been a smooth-sailing one, but over the last few years India has made efforts to improve ties with its neighbouring country with which it shares a 1,600 km-long border. Myanmar is regarded as a key partner for India in its battle to end insurgency in India's Northeast. As Myanmar is the only Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) country with which India shares a border, the neighbouring country assumes more significance as India's gateway to South East Asia, and an important factor in the Modi government’s ‘Act East’ policy.
Pressure won’t work to resolve Rakhine: Japan The Myanmar Times 30th May 2019
“If sanctions and applying pressure could solve the Rakhine issue, Japanese government would take action by doing so. Actually, it will make that issue more complicated,” Mr Maruyama said, adding that Japan acknowledges and supports the efforts of Myanmar to resolve the issue. The ambassador urged the international community to recognise the attempts made by Myanmar’s government to address the issue. He added that, at the same time, Myanmar needs to work with the UN to resolve the problem. When the NLD government took office in 2016, Japan pledged to provide US$8 billion in official development assistance over five years and has so far provided US$ 5 billion.
US and Japan should be strategic partners in Myanmar, report says The Myanmar Times 29th May 2019
“We believe it is both vital and feasible for the United States and Japan to simultaneously advance both their economic and human rights objectives in Myanmar,” said a report published by two think tanks, Washington DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Tokyo-based the Asia Pacific Initiative (API). The study “The Article II Mandate Forging a Stronger Economic Alliance between the United States and Japan” proposes strategies the two countries can implement to improve their economic partnership in third countries and further align shared interests, and includes Myanmar as a case-study. “By strengthening infrastructure, human capacity, and governance practices, Myanmar will become a stronger, more democratic, more stable nation, better able to negotiate relations with large neighbours, such as China, on its own terms,” it concluded.
Trade between Myanmar, Thailand at optimal levels: official The Myanmar Times 22nd May 2019
Among the main goods exported to Thailand are car parts and components, which are used to assemble vehicles at Thai car factories and later exported. Myanmar also exports natural gas, meat, natural resources, aquaculture products, vegetables, timber and other wood products to its neighbour. Meanwhile, it imports edible oil, soft drinks, metals, agricultural wars, carpets, car parts, cosmetics, skincare products, wheat, instant foods and plastic products from Thailand. Last year, Myanmar exports to Thailand rose by over 20 percent compared to the year before. During the period, trade volumes between Myanmar and Thailand totaled some 70 billion baht (K3.3 trillion), according to Khun Pakainay Leng-Ee.
A strategic partnership with benefits for China and Myanmar The Myanmar Times 17th May 2019
The country is likely to see an economic rise due to abundant low-cost labour compared to other countries in the region. Myanmar has suffered from international sanctions for years, as well as severe import restrictions imposed by the former junta. Many economists say there is likely to be huge economic growth in Myanmar after joining China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The Belt and Road initiative or the New Silk Road is a modern initiative put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, which aims to expand China’s transport and communication network and connect China with many of the world’s economies under the umbrella of “joint profit”. This initiative is cross-border and not limited to the Asian region, reaching many geographically distant countries.
ASEAN, Myanmar to work together to ease Rakhine tensions The Myanmar Times 29th May 2019
U Toe Oung, adviser to the agency’s chair, said the measures would be implemented as soon as possible, depending on the situation on the ground. “We hope to begin the practical measures quickly,” he said, without providing any details. Senior officials of ASEAN, key ministries and Rakhine State met on Monday in Nay Pyi Taw. The two sides agreed to implement high-impact projects that would immediately benefit communities, and a capacity-building programme for the ASEAN-Emergency Response and Assessment Team based in Myanmar to support the repatriation of refugees.
Yangon Sangha Council Cancels Meeting with Firebrand Monk The Irrawaddy 29th May 2019
The Yangon Region Sangha (Clerical) Council has postponed a scheduled meeting with ultranationalist Buddhist monk U Wirathu, who is currently the subject of an arrest warrant, at the last minute, according to the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture. The regional Sangha Council had summoned U Wirathu to its office to warn him against getting involved in secular affairs. The meeting was initially scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday. In a letter to the monk dated May 22, the council said the state clerical authority, the State Sangha Maha Nayaka, had instructed it to summon him over recent comments he made at a rally in downtown Yangon held to oppose efforts to amend Article 59(f) of the Constitution and calling for Article 261 to be amended.
Govt launches new payment system for injured workers The Myanmar Times 29th May 2019
The new system is being tested in Hlaing Tharyar township in Yangon Region and Pyigyitagun township in Mandalay, where most of the country’s factories are located. The International Labour Organization (ILO) and non-governmental group Vision Zero Funds (VSF) are providing support for the pilot programme. “We want workers who have registered for insurance to be provided with their payments effectively and quickly. We want to eliminate any delays in the department’s processes,” said U Maung Maung Aye, director general of the ministry. The ministry launched the pilot project over the weekend.
Union Gov’t Office Minister Unveils Reform Plan for GAD The Irrawaddy 23rd May 2019
U Min Thu, minister for the Office of the Union Government, has unveiled the ministry’s reform plan for the General Administration Department (GAD), which includes revisions of the department’s staff manuals and code of conduct, and the curriculum of the Institute of Development Administration. Four months after the military transferred control of the department to the Ministry of the Office of the Union Government, the minister held a meeting on Wednesday with GAD staff in the Naypyitaw Union Territory, which contains the capital of Myanmar.
Corporate Governance Code to be ready next year: minister The Myanmar Times 16th May 2019
A draft report on the code by the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA), Securities and Exchange Commission of Myanmar (SECM) and Organisation for Economic Co-operative and Development (OECD) is expected to be ready this year. An MOU to draft an official Corporate Governance Code was signed in November last year with the aim of improving corporate governance standards in Myanmar, which, in turn, will support the further development of the country’s capital markets. “We will need a strong framework to effect strong corporate governance standards for Myanmar companies. A Corporate Governance Code which conforms with the current conditions of Myanmar is expected to be ready in 2020,” said U Aung Naing Oo.
NLD says officials need more time to grant media freedom The Myanmar Times 14th May 2019
U Zaw Myint Maung, NLD vice chair and chief minister of Mandalay Region, said even if the leadership supports press freedom and the right to information, it will take time for bureaucrats to get used to granting access to the media. He said government agencies do not make abrupt changes due to fears that it could cause trouble, so they just maintain their old practices. “Based on three and a half years in office, I can say they still have worries,” he said. “When questions are raised, they do not like to answer them because they are afraid of making mistakes.” U Zaw Myint Maung said local officials do not have any experience in dealing with the media, so they are afraid.
OHCHR | UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar urges financial isolation of Myanmar military United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner 14th May 2019
The UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (FFM) urged the international community on Tuesday to cut off all financial and other support to Myanmar’s military, saying its commanders need to be isolated and brought before a credible court to answer charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. FFM Chairperson Marzuki Darusman said the measures were needed because Myanmar has not done enough to resolve the nation’s conflicts and protect human rights, including those of over a million ethnic Rohingya civilians who have been forced into exile. “There has been no movement toward a resolution of the crisis,” Darusman said at the conclusion of a 10-day visit to Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. “The situation is at a total standstill.”
The National League for Democracy's power fail Frontier Myanmar 13th May 2019
Widespread blackouts have returned to Yangon for the first time in several years. In recent weeks, many township-level electricity distribution offices have been forced to introduce scheduled outages to cope, with supply falling far below demand. The ostensible reason is the lack of water in the country’s hydropower dams, which produce around half its electricity. But the real problem is the National League for Democracy government’s failure to bring enough new power generation capacity online.
Advanced income tax on imports, exports reinstated after one year The Myanmar Times 22nd May 2019
Defense & Security
This voids a previous notification issued on January 22, 2018 exempting companies under the self-assessment system (SAS) from the 2pc AIT. The move “is likely to mean greater tax costs, even in the short term, for exporters that are under the large taxpayers office and medium tax office 1,” said Thomas Chan, Partner, Tax and Regulatory at KPMG Myanmar. U Min Htut, director general at the Internal Revenue Department (IRD), said the 2pc AIT exemption had been revoked after some traders were found to be exporting goods at the border using the names of companies under the SAS to take advantage of the exemption.
Vietnam, Myanmar to expand cooperation in defence, anti-crime | Borneo Bulletin Online Borneo Bulletin 13th May 2019
Vietnam and Myanmar agreed last Saturday to expand cooperation to potential spheres, including navy, military medicine, defence industry, logistics, search and rescue, and fighting crimes related to national and regional security. The consensus was reached in Hanoi last Saturday when Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc met with Myanmar President U Win Myint, who is in Vietnam to attend the United Nations Day of Vesak celebration, Vietnam News Agency reported. The two leaders also agreed to promote negotiations for the early signing of a memorandum of understanding on mutual assistance on anti-criminal matters.
IRD to introduce Income tax bill to parliament The Myanmar Times 30th May 2019
He said the new legislation will modernise the rules and “effectively cover” different parts of the economy, catching up with international standards. The old income tax law was enacted since 1974, hence the law is no longer up to date and not in line with international standards. U Min Htut added the department is ready to submit the new law to the parliament once the tax management bill, which is currently sitting in Pyidaungsu Hluttaw since 2018, is approved. The tax management bill seeks to reorganise the various tax laws, from commercial tax law, income tax law, specific goods tax law, and union taxation law. The purpose is to allow taxpayers to follow the regulations more easily.
Businesses collaborate to launch new loan facility for landowners The Myanmar Times 30th May 2019
The company is aiming to grant loans to those who don’t have enough capital to construct luxury buildings, high-rise buildings, hotels, warehouses, and other buildings on land they own, said U Nay Min Thu, managing director of iMyanmarHouse.com. Designed in collaboration with KBZ Bank and Myanmar Art Construction and Development Co Ltd, the loan is said to be the first of its kind in the country. KBZ bank will issue loans to the applicants on the condition the building work is done by Myanmar Art Construction & Development. iMyanmarHouse.com will vet the documents for the loans and ensure the buildings are completed, said U Nay Min Thu.
Germany keen to raise investment and trade in Myanmar The Myanmar Times 28th May 2019
Mr Hoos added that German businesses are also keen to invest in the Myanmar energy and agriculture sectors, adding to the US$32 million worth of investments by four other German businesses in Myanmar to-date, according to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration. The largest investment by a Germany company in Myanmar is Metro Wholesale, which has channeled approximately US$10 million into its business operations in the country.
Economic development not enough to solve Rakhine crisis – UNHCR chief The Myanmar Times 28th May 2019
“The state is very poor. I think development is good for Rakhine, but it has to be inclusive, otherwise it will be damaging,” he told The Myanmar Times in an interview on Friday at the end of his five-day visit to the country. “If development includes and benefits all communities, I welcome it.” However, Grandi said the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine could not be resolved by economic development alone. The issue of citizenship, which is tied to freedom of movement, must also be effectively addressed. Citizenship and freedom of movement was one of the recommendations of the Kofi Annan-led Rakhine advisory commission. Grandi said freedom of movement is very important so that people can go about their daily chores, go to their farms or go fishing, children can go to school, and sick people can access health services.
Myanmar-EU Economic Forum to return on June 5 The Myanmar Times 17th May 2019
Over two days, Myanmar and European business communities will be brought together, with more than 500 guests expected to be present at this high-profile event. As an annual event, the Myanmar-EU Economic Forum aims to discuss the current business climate, as well as what has been achieved by the extensive work of our advocacy groups. The purpose of this unique and diverse gathering of high-level government officials, leading private sector representatives, key experts from international organisations and leading academics is to share knowledge and play an active part in the advancement of Myanmar.
Infographic: A Look Inside Yangon’s 80 Projects for Economic Growth The Irrawaddy 17th May 2019
Major infrastructure projects slated for Yangon featured heavily at the second Invest Myanmar Summit held in January, wooing foreign direct investment to the city which some 8.2 million people call home. The Yangon regional government showcased a total of 80 projects in the Yangon Project Bank, saying they would enhance the living standards of lower-income citizens, and raise the level of income of middle- and high-income citizens. According to the Yangon government, the project bank is in line with the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (MSDP) drawn up the National League for Democracy (NLD) government with the aim of achieving “genuine, inclusive and transformational” economic growth.
Myanmar gears up investment promotion with ‘bold' plan The Nation 16th May 2019
Aung Naing Oo, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations, said at a workshop on Thursday that Myanmar aims to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) worth US$5.8 billion this year. “We have received nearly US$2.5 billion so far, and are trying hard to attract big projects in the second half of this year,” he said, adding the foreign investment inflow is expected to reach nearly the same as that of last year. Launched in October last year, MIPP aims to receive US$200 billion from FDI over the next two decades. The three-phase plan aims to encourage domestic and foreign businesses to invest in labour-intensive industries, he said.
Foreign Firms Face Scrutiny as UN Looks to Isolate Myanmar Generals VOA 16th May 2019
Multinational companies doing business with Myanmar’s military have so far shrugged off calls from activists to cut ties despite ongoing efforts to have the country’s top generals prosecuted for genocide. Even big brand names such as Western Union that stand to suffer reputational damage in the wake of outrage over mass killings in Rakhine state in 2017 have stuck with their military-owned business partners. But now U.N. investigators are upping the pressure, calling for the country’s military to be totally isolated and promising to probe its sources of funding while nudging states to impose further sanctions.
Country’s business leaders speak at Myanmar Times economic forum The Myanmar Times 14th May 2019
The event gathered investors, executives, managers, policymakers and researchers to look at what lies ahead for Myanmar’s economy. It was made possible by the generous support of M Tower, Eneos, Marga Group, Bata and Tun Commercial Bank. Special thanks is extended to the five business leaders on the panel: Aung Htun, deputy chair, Myanmar Investment Holdings; Serge Pun, executive chair, Yoma Strategic and First Myanmar Investment Co; Than Lwin, senior consultant, KBZ Bank; Peter Beynon, country chair, Jardine Matheson in Myanmar and Cambodia; and Alok Verma, acting chief executive officer, Ooredoo Myanmar.
Singapore surpasses China as Myanmar’s biggest investor The Myanmar Times 13th May 2019
At a meeting on streamlining investment in Nay Pyi Taw last week, U Aung Naing Oo, the ministry’s permanent secretary, said, “The top investor in Myanmar through December 2018 was China, but Singapore has overtaken it since January.” The other top investors were Thailand, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Japan, India, France, the United States, Indonesia and Canada. U Aung Naing Oo said that some investors from Singapore may not be Singaporean but are based in the island-nation. Many companies investing in Myanmar from Singapore are multinationals that set up regional headquarters in the Lion City.
Myanmar state counselor calls for working with private sector to achieve development goals - Xinhua | English.news.cn Xinhua 12th May 2019
Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi has called for working together with the private sector to achieve the country's development goals, while ensuring the maintenance of a responsible and sustainable business environment. In her video message on the occasion of the Yangon Region Investment Forum 2019, which began on Friday, Aung San Suu Kyi affirmed her belief in the power of collaboration to achieve the development goals, encouraging investors to consider public-private partnership (PPP) mechanisms.
Companies to commence exploratory drilling in 2019 and 2020 The Myanmar Times 30th May 2019
This is the next phase after seismic surveys and testing operations were carried out over the past five years under the terms of the Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) between the companies and the government. It includes both onshore and offshore drilling. Around 20 oil and gas companies, including Thailand’s PTTEP, Italy’s ENI, South Korea’s Daewoo and Australia’s Woodside Energy have commenced drilling and other geological and seismic activities in Myanmar so far this year. “The companies have reached the drilling phase under the contract. Should they decide that it is not commercially viable to move on to production after drilling has been conducted, they can choose not to continue with the contract,” said U Min Min Oo, assistant secretary of the MOEE.
Myanmar's fuel market: from fanfare to standstill Frontier Myanmar 28th May 2019
IN JULY 2017, Frontier reported on the longstanding frustration among drivers in Myanmar at the poor quality of fuel sold at local stations. Just a few months earlier, the Myanmar Investment Commission had abolished a requirement that foreign investors in the sector partner with the Ministry of Energy and Electricity. The larger local players were already aligning with foreign partners. “The long fuel lines at the few private stations with a good reputation could soon be a thing of the past,” we wrote. Almost two years later, though, there has been almost no perceptible change: few foreign brands, the same old complaints from drivers about price and quality. But a long-closed, profitable market has supposedly opened up, so why have investors mostly stayed away? Although there is no single answer, it’s certainly not lack of interest. Back in mid-2017, Shell, Total, PTT and CNPC among others were all said to be in the middle of talks with potential partners.
ENI to start oil exploration process in Magwe this year The Myanmar Times 24th May 2019
Exploration work will start between November and December, it said. The block sits across 320,000 acres and ENI is allowed a six-year exploration period. Eni won the bid to explore at RSF-5 in 2014 and signed an agreement with the government and Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise in 2015. ENI owns a 90 percent stake in the RSF-5 block while local company Myanmar Petroleum Exploration and Production owns 10pc. An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)for the proposed drilling project at block RSF-5 will be conducted by ENI submitted to the Environmental Conservation Department. Results will be announced to the public next month, according to the company.
Investment opportunities available in Chin State power, transportation sectors: chief minister The Myanmar Times 24th May 2019
Owing to its difficult and mountainous terrain, Chin State is one of the poorest states in Myanmar with the least investment. Yet, it is also the most scenic In Chin, the most successful sectors are hotels and tourism because of the scenery and attractions such as Nat Ma Taung National Park, Reeds Lake and Kanpatlat township, which is home to the famed Mount Victoria. “Chin State is also a very peaceful state. Chin people even take delight in offering visitors the food they have. They are a very united people and enjoy their traditional dances. Local as well as foreign businesses are invited to invest in any sector they desire in Chin State. As there are currently not many investments there yet, it’s a good time for investors to gain the first mover advantage in Chin,” Salai Lian Luai told The Myanmar Times during an exclusive interview in Mandalay, where he visited this week. There are many infrastructure requirements. The hilly terrain is very suitable for hydropower projects. Big companies are coming to do it. I invite both local and foreign investors to come and carry out field studies and invest. So far, we have found 27 places in which 30-megawatt projects can be carried out. There are also several locations on the Manipur River where 300-megawatt and 600-megawatt hydropower projects are feasible. A total of ten companies from India, Norway, China, the Netherlands and Japan have already conduced feasibility studies and we have signed six MOUs with the likes of the Union Government, Power China Company, Norway Power Company and other local companies.
1,300 Villages to Receive Solar-Generated Electricity in FY2019-20 The Irrawaddy 24th May 2019
Over 1,300 villages in rural areas of five regions will get access to electricity through solar power in fiscal 2019-20 as part of the National Electrification Project (NEP), according to the Ministry of Electricity and Energy. The ministry will team up with the Rural Development Department overseen by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation to supply solar power, according to the deputy permanent secretary of the Electricity and Energy Ministry, U Htay Aung. He said fees collected from villagers will cover 20 percent of the cost, with the government financing the rest from the proceeds of solar-power generation.
Residents urge govt to call off coal project in Tanintharyi The Myanmar Times 15th May 2019
Residents of Ban Chaung in Dawei district said that while the project has been suspended since 2017, piles of coal waste from the project have been burning since 2015, and they are suffering from breathing the foul smoke. The open pit coal mine on 60 acres in Kun Chaung Gyi village was suspended due to residents’ protests. Over 100 villagers gathered on Saturday near the project site to commemorate the suspension of the project and to urge the authorities to extinguish the fire. They also asked authorities to call off the project permanently. “If the project restarts, Ban Chaung and Myittar will be damaged, so I ask you to close the coal mine permanently,” Ka Htaung Ni village leader Saw Tin Oo said.
Myanmar to borrow more than 1.4 billion baht for more electricity The Myanmar Times 15th May 2019
With this loan, the Ministry of Electricity and Energy will make sure that Yangon’s power distribution system is improved and the frequency of power shortages reduced, said deputy minister U Tun Naing. The project term is from 2020 to 2022 and power plants and transmission lines will be built and upgraded in North Dagon, North Okkalapa and Shwepaukkan in Yangon. Currently, many townships in Yangon are experiencing blackouts every day. The interest rate for the loan is 1.5 percent per year and the loan term is 30 years. According to the agreement, 50pc of the contract’s value must be used for buying products and services from Thailand under an official tender system.
Gov’t to Buy Electricity from China to Cover Shortfall The Irrawaddy 14th May 2019
The Myanmar government plans to buy 1,000 MW of electricity from a Chinese state-owned enterprise to meet an expected electricity shortage over the next two years. Myanmar, which already has Southeast Asia’s lowest rate of access to electricity, has recently been plagued by regular power blackouts due to water shortages at hydropower plants following severe heat across the country. Hydropower remains Myanmar’s main source of electricity, followed by natural gas and coal. According to the Ministry of Electricity and Energy (MOEE), the country faced a 400 MW power shortage as of April. This is expected to rise to 1,588 MW by 2020.
More FDI expected in power sector in five years The Myanmar Times 13th May 2019
With just 40 percent of all households enjoying access to electricity as at September 2017, which is amongst the lowest in Asia, the research firm said. With power cuts still taking place often during the summer months, major impediment to economic development, and the government is aiming for full electrification by 2030. In Myanmar, almost half of all uncompleted projects in the pipeline, valued at US$1 billion, are related to the power sector. This, although aligned with the government’s aim for full electrification by 2030, indicates that the country is likely to fall short of capacity requirements.
Solar-powered plant in Magway starts its operation soon Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 23rd May 2019
The solar-powered plant being built in Magway Region will start producing 20 MW at the end of this month, said Myint Zaw, Magway Region Minister for Electricity and Energy. At the beginning, most of power are expected to go to Rakhine State. The Ks-190-per unit price is still high. The biggest solar-powered plant in Myanmar is built on a 800-acre land in between Zeeaing and Laypin village on the left side of Minbu-Ann road. As a first phase, the power plant will produce 40 MW, using about 150,000 solar panels. The power plant will produce 170 MW—three 40-MW power grids and one 50-MW power grid.
Over 23 million cubic feet of gas distributed daily for CNG buses Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 21st May 2019
The onshore oil fields distribute over 23 million cubic feet of gas daily for use in CNG passenger buses, said Tin Maung Oo, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Electricity and Energy. He said 28,299 motor vehicles across Myanmar had been converted into CNG ones. Within the third year of the government's term, Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise produced 3.32 million barrels crude oil and over 623,000 million cubic feet of natural gas from 86 onshore and offshore oil and gas fields, according to the Ministry of Electricity and Energy. During the same period, 40 new onshore fields were dug—23 by Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise and 17 by companies—producing 2.31 million barrels of crude oil and 19,019 million cubic feet of gas.
Myanmar state counselor stresses utmost effort to increase power production Xinhua 18th May 2019
Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi has stressed the need to make utmost effort to increase electricity production, saying that the government has set up new infrastructure for the power system including installation of new cable lines and opening of new sub-power stations. She expected that about 50 percent of the country's electricity demand will be fulfilled before the end of this year, which will be up from 30 percent in 2016. Myanmar is meeting just under 50 percent of its electricity demand which is one of the major requirements for the development of the country. She added that power and transport are crucial for the country's development and if the people get access to good transportation and electrification, their social-economic life will improve quickly.
Power production declines by over 250 MW in four months Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 7th May 2019
Within four months, the country’s highest power production output has declined by over 250 MW, according to the figures from the Ministry of Electricity and Energy. The highest power production was 3,303.9 MW on January 7 this year. The ministry produced 3,078 MW on May 5, down 255.9 MW. Yangon Region consumes 1,282 MW or 41 per cent of the total power consumption, Mandalay Region, 516.2 MW or over 16 per cent, Nay Pyi Taw Council Area, 161 MW or five per cent and other regions and states, 1,214.7 MW or over 39 per cent. The current power production is about 3,800 MW. Plan is under way to produce an additional 3,000 MW in the next three years, said Union Minister for Electricity and Energy on March 16. Under the National Electricity Plan (NEP), Myanmar has set a goal of electrifying the whole country by 2030.
Business | Gov’t Seeks Green Light from Parliament to Join BRI Tax Scheme as Observer The Irrawaddy 29th May 2019
President U Win Myint has sought Parliament’s approval to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that would give Myanmar observer status in a multilateral tax cooperation mechanism established under Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative. The BRI Tax Administration Cooperation Mechanism, also known as BRITACOM, aims to facilitate cross-border trade, investment and projects for enterprises and countries along the BRI’s routes by helping to resolve tax disputes and barriers. “We will have a chance to improve tax management proficiency,” Deputy Planning and Finance Minister U Maung Maung Win told Parliament on Wednesday.
Finacle to power Myanmar-based GTB's digital banking plan IBS Intelligence 22nd May 2019
Myanmar-based commercial bank Global Treasure Bank (GTB) has successfully implemented Infosys Finacle’s Core Banking Solution in order to fuel its retail and corporate operations across the country, enhance customer experience and, expand its product portfolio. U KoKo Aung, CEO, Global Treasure Bank, said, “For over two decades, GTB has stayed true to our mission of comprehensive economic development of Myanmar through reliable, inclusive and convenient banking services. Today, to continue to abide by this commitment in an increasingly complex regulatory and competitive environment, we felt the need for a modern platform to power our banking strategy. We believe our investment in Finacle’s industry-leading platform, will help deepen our customer relationships through scalable, innovative and contextual banking experience.”
Central bank issues warning against cryptocurrency trading The Myanmar Times 20th May 2019
To contain the risks, the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) earlier this month announced that it does not recognize cryptocurrencies as an official currency and that financial institutions in Myanmar are not allowed to accept or facilitate transactions involving digital currencies. Cryptocurrency valuations have been volatile since they began trading in recent years. On April 1, the price of one bitcoin jumped 18 percent to US$4,900 in just 24 hours and closed the month at US$5200.
Myanmar Legal Alert: Central Bank of Myanmar Clarifies That It Does Not Recognize Cryptocurrency as Legal Tender DFDL 3rd May 2019
Food & Agriculture
The Central Bank of Myanmar (“CBM”) in its most recent announcement on 3 May 2019 finally clarified that it does not recognize digital currencies such as cryptocurrency as legal tender. In the announcement, the CBM went further in stating that transactions and exchanges (including through online platforms such as Facebook) involving digital currencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Perfect Money and other currencies of a similar nature are not recognized as legally permissible transactions.While they have not clarified what the risks are yet, they have stated that since digital currency is not recognized as legal currency, any person using or rendering services in relation to digital currencies including cryptocurrency (personally or through the internet) runs the risk of breaching relevant regulations.
Taste for Western Diet Reshapes Trade in Myanmar Bloomberg 21st May 2019
Health & Life Sciences
The arrival of a large cargo of American wheat at Myanmar’s newly opened port signals its leap into the global grain trade as the country’s demand for Western food rises. The bulk carrier New Journey offloaded 22,000 metric tons of U.S. dark northern spring wheat last week at the International Bulk Terminal Thilawa near the capital city of Yangon, which has a planned capacity to import 1 million tons a year. While Myanmar has been buying smaller containers of grains, this may be the first time it has purchased the commodity in such large amounts at one go.
Promoting eco-awareness amid rapid urban growth The Myanmar Times 28th May 2019
Cities where people migrate to work and live are getting overcrowded. By 2030, the urban population in the region is projected to increase from about 270 million to 373 million people. The fast and furious rate of growth is wreaking havoc on local environments. A large portion of city infrastructure systems, such as transportation, government buildings and manufacturing zones, are planned and built in inappropriate locations. Examples are not hard to find in Thailand. For instance, rice plains in Ayutthaya, the ancient capital city of Thailand, have been designated as industrial estates, leading the area to become more prone to flooding.
Hospital steps up efforts to help blood disorder patients The Myanmar Times 3rd May 2019
Yangon Children’s Hospital is performing up to 30 blood transfusions a day in an effort to help young patients suffering from the congenital blood disease Thalassaemia. Dr Aye Aye Khaing, head of the hospital’s Haematology and Oncology Unit, said the transfusions are being performed on an outpatient basis in her unit.
Health care just a click away The Myanmar Times 2nd May 2019
Most people who have a good command of English can easily search for health information using Google, but it can be difficult for someone who doesn’t understand English, especially in countries like Myanmar. Hello Sayarwon may have found a solution to that problem by harnessing technology and the internet to make health information available to all people in Myanmar. “The public will get a lot of benefit from a digital health care portal in Myanmar. We want to help people get the most trustworthy health care information online and to help them better understand how to live happier and healthier lives,” said U Thurein Hlaing Win, operations director of Hello Sayarwon.
Spurned by the West, Embraced by Myanmar The Irrawaddy 27th May 2019
As the U.S. government hit it with severe sanctions in its escalating trade spat with China, Myanmar government officials showed their eager embrace of Chinese tech giant Huawei, pledging to allow the controversial company to help build the Myanmar’s communication network. The pledge was made on Friday at the Myanmar Indoor Coverage Digitalization Summit 2019, jointly organized by the Federation of Myanmar Engineering Societies (Fed. MES) and Huawei and attended by officials from the Ministry of Construction, the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Fed. MEM. Despite the U.S cutting relations with Huawei over national security concerns, Deputy Director General of the Posts and Telecommunications Department, Ministry of Transport and Communications U Soe Naing praised Huawei for its “support and trusted network solutions for Myanmar’s communication network development.”
What Industry 4.0 Demands of Myanmar The Irrawaddy 24th May 2019
It is of primary importance, Myanmar Minister of Industry U Khin Maung Cho told the more than 100 gathered at the Novotel Yangon Max hotel Friday morning for the Industry 4.0 in Myanmar conference, to create an inclusive digital economy. Industry 4.0—a term with a fluid definition but that generally refers to commercial and industrial advances in automation and digital connectivity, and their resulting social and economic impacts—will “affect more than just manufacturing,” U Khin Maung Cho said. “We have to develop our country to match with the other countries surrounding Myanmar.”
Google ban on Huawei a potential problem for Myanmar: users The Myanmar Times 22nd May 2019
The company will immediately lose access to updates to Google’s Android operating system. Future versions of Huawei smartphones that run on Android will also lose access to popular services, including the Google Play Store, Gmail, Google Maps and YouTube apps. New designs of Huawei smartphones are set to lose access to some Google apps. Existing Huawei smart phones will continue to have access to Google-related apps, but future Huawei tablets and mobile handsets will not be certified by Google. The move comes after US President Donald Trump added Huawei to a list of companies that US firms cannot trade with unless they have a licence, amid an escalating trade war between the two countries.
Ooredoo Myanmar signs 5G agreement with ZTE Telecomasia 16th May 2019
Ooredoo Myanmar has signed an agreement with ZTE to collaborate on 5G network deployment as part of the operator's network modernization program. The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding that will cover Ooredoo Myanmar's 5G evolution from trials through to commercial deployment. During the first stage of the partnership, Ooredoo Myanmar and ZTE will evaluate potential test environments for Ooredoo's 5G network. The network tests will be used to evaluate the performance of the 5G network ahead of commercial deployments.
Opportunities emerge as fixed broadband market heats up The Myanmar Times 30th May 2019
As subscription numbers soar in Myanmar, internet users are demanding faster connection speeds to support greater volumes of content, such as high-quality videos and live streaming. That opens up opportunities for ISPs, particularly in fixed broadband, U Thein Than Toe said. “Internet subscription prices are falling. For example, the installation charge was nearly K300,000 in the past, but now there is no installation charge and we offer users cheap prices via promotions,” he said.
Ooredoo Prepared, Seeks Approval to Bring 5G to Myanmar Myanmar Business Today 30th May 2019
Ooredoo Myanmar has announced that once it gets approval and licenses from the government, it will build and provide 5G services here. To do this, it announced a partnership with ZTE Corporation, as it signed a Memorandum of Understanding [MoU] to collaborate on 5G development in this country. The two companies will jointly test the new 5G network in some townships of Yangon and Mandalay, and then hope to expand the 5G service across the country.
Urbanisation to drive expansion of indoor network Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 29th May 2019
With morepeople moving to major cities for better opportunities, Myanmar is planning to improve the quality of its indoor network coverage as part of preparing for the fifth generation of wireless technology (5G), officials say. Soe Naing, deputy director-general of the Posts and Telecommunications Department, told the recent Myanmar Indoor Coverage Digitalisation Summit 2019 that the country would focus on improving the indoor experience of users, given that more than 70 per cent of the traffic occurs indoors, especially in urban areas.
Myanmar Reaches High with Satellite Plan Myanmar Business Today 24th May 2019
Myanmar will start implementing a long-term project to launch its own Earth Observation Satellite in Fis-cal Year (FY) 2020, according to the Ministry of Transport and Communication. "Hokkaido University [Japan] and Myanmar Aerospace Engineering University are collaborating in order to launch an Earth Observation Satellite (EOS) in the third phase of Myanmar’s satellite plan," said U Win Khant, the permanent secretary of Ministry of Transport and Communication.
Initial technical report on Muse-Mandalay railway project submitted The Myanmar Times 30th May 2019
China Railway Eryuan Engineering Co (CREEC) submitted the report, which is based on a ground survey along Muse-Mandalay highway road and which includes results from a soil analysis test as well as suggested routes, said U Htaung Shan Khan, general manager of Administration and Planning for Myanma Railways. China-backed CREEC conducted ground survey works in the last week of December, 2018. The technical report was carried out during the first four months of the year. Officials of CREEC and Myanma Railways inspected the ground along proposed routes for the Muse-Mandalay railway project. They also held public meetings with the authorities, residents and township’s elders of Kyaukme, Lashio and Muse, where the railway might pass through. However, the report will be complete only when an environmental impact assessment, social impact assessment and the project’s commercial and financial viability are conducted.
Bago opens UN-backed, UK-funded road The Myanmar Times 22nd May 2019
The concrete road - which costs K172,880,000 - connects Kawa township and Kha May Gyi village tract and is part of the Kawa-Tha Pyu road. It is expected to benefit more than 20,000 people from 12 villages with improved access to health, education and work because of the connection to the Yangon-Bago main road. More than 250 female garment factory workers commute daily to factories in Bago by this road. The inauguration ceremony, held in Kawa township on May 21, was attended among others by Bago Region Chief Minister U Win Thein, regional finance minister U Nyunt Shwe, British Ambassador Dan Chugg, and UNDP Myanmar Resident Representative Peter Batchelor. U Win Thein said: “The concrete road project is an example of good democratic practice. Bago Region Government would like to extend such kind of practice to the remaining townships of the region in collaboration with UNDP and UK Aid”.
First Shanghai-Yangon direct flight to open in July SHINE 22nd May 2019
Shanghai-based airlines are competing with each other to open direct flights to popular destinations in Southeast Asia to cap the rising travel demands. Shanghai-based airlines are competing with each other to open direct flights to popular destinations in Southeast Asia to cap the rising travel demands amid the Belt and Road Initiative. Spring Airlines announced on Tuesday to open the first direct flight between Shanghai and Yangon in Myanmar from July 1. The budget carrier will operate four flights weekly that take five hours in a one-way journey, half of the time taken by existing transfer flights. China Eastern will also open a direct link between Shanghai and Rangoon around July with three return flights every week.
Feasibility study on Mandalay-Muse railway in process The Myanmar Times 15th May 2019
A feasibility study for a proposed US$9 billion railway linking Mandalay to Muse is being conducted, said U Ba Myint, managing director of Myanma Railways, which comes under the Ministry of Transport and Communications. “We estimate that it [the railway project] will cost about US$8.9billion,” he said at a press conference in Nay Pyi Taw on May 13. A Memorandum of Understanding to study the feasibility of the project was signed between Myanma Railways and China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group in October last year. The railway, which is expected to be a single line, will be 421 kilometers long. Trains will run at the speed of 160 km per hour, resulting in total travel time of 3 hours from Mandalay to Muse.
Govt still keen to build international airport in Bago The Myanmar Times 15th May 2019
“As Hantharwaddy is an essential airport, we’ve been trying hard to get construction started. We are seeking help from Japan to manage the construction of aircraft runways,” U Win Khant said during a press conference detailing the government’s performance in its third year in power, on May 13. U Aung Ye Tun, assistant permanent secretary of the same ministry, said negotiations with Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism are ongoing. A tender for the construction of the US$1.5 billion airport was first launched in 2012. The project was awarded to a consortium comprising Japan’s JGC Corporation, Singapore-listed Yongnam Holdings and Singapore’s Changi Airports International.
Emerging dynamics of the China-Myanmar economic corridor ORF 15th May 2019
At the second Chinese Belt and Road Forum (BRF) attended by Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in April 2019, three MoUs were signed to strengthen cooperation on the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) integral to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This was the latest in a series of MoUs reached between China and Myanmar on the CMEC in recent years. Myanmar’s increasing dependence on China in dealing with internal and external challenges and Beijing’s ability to leverage Naypyidaw’s strategic compulsions to its advantage has been a defining featuring of the current bilateral relationship. China has been extending political and financial support to the Myanmar government in managing the country’s ethnic conflicts along their shared borderlands and protecting it at the United Nations for atrocities against the Rohingyas.
Gov’t Spells Out Conditions for Signing BRI Deals with China The Irrawaddy 30th May 2019
A senior Myanmar official revealed that the government has drawn up a set of conditions for signing memorandums of understanding (MOUs) related to Beijing’s grand infrastructure projects in the country in order to avoid falling into a “debt trap” with China and to ensure the projects benefit both countries. The conditions include acquiring international financing and opening the tender process to non-Chinese companies. It is the first time a government official has spoken about this issue since September, when Myanmar signed an MOU with China agreeing to establish the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) as part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Mon Unity Party Calls for Probe of 1-Billion-Kyat Road Contract The Irrawaddy 28th May 2019
The founding members of the Mon Unity Party (MUP) have asked the Union and Mon State governments, as well as the state parliament, what action they plan to take in the case of a 1-billion-kyat road project that was offered without a tender process. They accused the state’s chief minister of abusing his power to offer the project to a favored company. In a statement issued yesterday the MUP, a new party comprising former members of existing parties, said the issue threatened to harm public confidence in the state government, and cautioned that the rule of law in the region was put at risk by the absence of checks and balances between the parliament and the state government, adding that the issue had resulted in an increase in clashes in the legislature.
Toyota to build factory in Myanmar The Japan News 28th May 2019
Myanmar has a population of about 50 million people, on par with South Korea and Spain. It is also a young nation, with an average age of 27.9. While it is one of the poorest countries in Asia, it has seen strong economic growth recently and is expected to grow at annual rates of 6 to 7 percent. The plant would be located in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (see below) on the outskirts of Yangon and would assemble pickup trucks through so-called knockdown production, in which parts imported from Japan and other nearby nations are put together at the new plant. An official announcement could come before the end of the month, with construction on the plant to start this year. Toyota Motor Corp. is planning to build an automobile factory in Myanmar, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
Domestic steel demand projected to surge The Myanmar Times 17th May 2019
U Myint Swe said this during a talk on the development of Myanmar’s iron and steel manufacturing sector organised by Danieli in Mandalay. He said there is a big gap between the quantity of domestic production and potential demand. “The World Steel Association’s projection’s for our country’s show market demand will rise to about three million tonnes by next year and continue to surge to about five million tonnes in 2025. So there is a big gap between production and demand. To close the gap, local manufacturing sector really needs to develop. The steel industry has a major role in developing the economy of a country. Our domestic steel industry will need to develop for the Myanmnar’s industrial development,” said U Myint Swe.
New policy aims to raise number of new cars on the road The Myanmar Times 15th May 2019
Travel & Tourism
Under the new policy, the usage of left-hand drive vehicles will be promoted for road safety purposes. Control measures on imports of used right-hand drive vehicles, which now dominate the market, will also be implemented. Meanwhile, tax incentives will be given to car makers with local assembly and production plants that meet international standards. Over the longer term, the country will aim to build up its auto-parts manufacturing industries to serve overseas markets. This is expected to help increase the usage of new left-hand drive vehicles in the economy by 4 percent, or 200,000 new vehicles, in the first five years and to 400,000 vehicles in next five. Over the longer term, the ministry is targeting a total of 1.2 million new vehicles.
Myanmar Legal Alert: New Gambling Law Permits Casinos to Operate in Myanmar DFDL 10th May 2019
Following several discussions on significant changes being proposed in Myanmar in relation to the gambling landscape, the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (Myanmar parliament) finally enacted The Gambling Law on 7 May 2019. The enactment of the GL heralds positive news for investors looking to invest in the “casino” business as the legal avenues for operating such establishments have finally been opened. The previous Gambling Law of 1986 placed a blanket ban on all forms of gambling across Myanmar.