Myanmar Update: August 1, 2019

Myanmar Update | August 1, 2019
Authors: Riley Smith, Jack Myint, and Dim Mang
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

Sept 3-5: 2019 Business Mission to the ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM)

Sept 8-10: 2019 Business Mission to ASEAN Economic Ministers' (AEM) Meeting

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

US Imposes Travel Ban on Myanmar’s Top Military Leader

On Tuesday, July 16, the Department of State enacted sanctions on four Burmese military leaders and their families. To read the full announcement, please click here. These four individuals are Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Deputy Commander-in-Chief General Soe Win, Brigadier General Than Oo, and Brigadier General Aung Aung. Under the rules of the Department of State, these individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States due to sufficient evidence of gross human rights violations enacted by the military in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State.

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo relayed in a statement that “with this announcement, the United States is the first government to publicly take action with respect to the most senior leadership of the Burmese military” and that the State Department “designated these individuals based on credible information of these commanders’ involvement in gross violations of human rights.” The State Department specifically cited Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing’s decision to release soldiers convicted of extrajudicial killings at Inn Din, contrasting this with the journalists who wrote on these killings being jailed for more than 500 days.

These travel sanctions come after the continuing violence in Rakhine State, as well as military crackdowns on journalists and other ethnic groups. A spokesperson for the Myanmar military, Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun, responded that this travel ban won’t have much of an effect on the leaders, though “it harms the dignity [of the military].”

In addition to these sanctions, bills in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate (here and here, respectively) have been introduced to further prohibit expansion of American military assistance to Myanmar until reforms take place. This is in addition to legislative efforts to impose financial penalties on Myanmar military leaders and their affiliated entities. Furthermore on July 29, a joint letter was sent to Secretary Pompeo and Secretary Mnuchin by a bipartisan group of members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, urging the State Department to restore “sanctions against military owned enterprises” and legally designate the events in Rakhine State as crimes against humanity. The full text of the letter can be accessed here.

Union Ministers Investigated for Corruption

On July 26, Myanmar Union Minister for Industry U Khin Maung Cho was “allowed to resign” from his cabinet post amid a corruption scandal. On July 30, Union Minister for Planning and Finance U Soe Win was appointed Industry Minister, which he will hold concurrently with his existing portfolio. Additionally, the Union Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating the bank account transactions of the Union Minister for Electricity and Energy, U Win Khaing, and his Deputy Minister, U Tun Naing, as well as those of their wives.

The Industry Minister was ousted after it was found that more than 1 billion kyats (US$660,000)-worth of raw materials were purchased for state-owned pharmaceutical company, BPI, without any tender process being held. The Anti-Corruption Commission opened an investigation into the Electricity Minister and his deputy for a separate scandal, the details and nature of which have still not been made public. An official from the Minister of Electricity and Energy (MOEE) said that their department is still in the dark over the exact nature of the investigations, and that “as far as we understand, questions were asked about hydropower projects.”

This high rate of turnover in the NLD’s cabinet is not unusual, for the Industry Minister is the second Union Minister forced out by corruption allegations since the NLD came to power in 2016. Overall, 20 ministers and Chief Ministers at the state and regional levels have been sacked or opted to resign due to various reasons, citing health problems, corruption scandals, performance issues, or other unexplained reasons.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
National Affairs
In the NLD’s Cabinets, a High Rate of Turnover
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi tops PACE public-trust survey
First constitutional change bid in four years kicks off in parliament
Military Lawmakers Withdraw from Charter Amendment Debate
Union ministers come under fire for corruption
No justice reform without the Tatmadaw
US Visa Ban Unlikely to See Military Change Course
Public access to info: Planned archives law alarms civil society
U.S. Sanctions Senior Myanmar Generals Over Rohingya 'Ethnic Cleansing'
US Sanctions Hurt Military Dignity: Spokesperson
Ethnic parties merge in attempt to win 2020 election
Trademark and Geographical Indication Law (TGIL) in Myanmar: Summary and Recommendations - Intellectual Property - Myanmar
Ignoring Ethnic Parties will Hurt NLD in 2020

Customs
Myanmar Liquor Association urges stricter control over grey market
Stakeholders want temporary ban on refined-sugar imports
FDA declares imported flu vaccines sold online illegal
Myanmar to pick deep-sea port location next year
Myanmar to lift licensing requirement for some import items
Myanmar OKs almost 200 foreign investment projects in current FY

Defense & Security
India, Myanmar sign defence cooperation agreement
Grenade Found Outside NLD Office in Yangon’s Thingangyun Township
Israel to bar Myanmar officials from arms expos
Will Myanmar’s Navy Get Its First Submarine From the Indian Navy?
India, Myanmar sign MoU on defence co-operation
Myanmar Military Proposes Larger Budget for ‘Stronger’ Armed Forces

Energy
Foreigners welcome to set up retail-petroleum business
Solar power shines in Myanmar
Anti-Corruption Committee Steps Up Energy Ministry Investigation
Micro Power Plant Start-up Pursues Electrification Plan in Myanmar
Long-term energy policy needed
Renewable and nonrenewable energy in Myanmar's economic growth
Overland cross-border natural gas pipelines fuel China's energy supply
PTT will open the first station in Myanmar this year
Increase Coal Power Plants in 2030 is Myanmar’s Goal
Faster implementation of power projects needed in Chin State
Myanmar energy reform: rate hike aims to fund infrastructure investment
Solar micro-grids and energy access in Myanmar

Financial Services
Growth potential seen in microfinance sector
Usage of int’l prepaid cards in kyat not allowed: CBM
Foreign Partners Poised to Aid Growth in Myanmar’s Life Insurance Sector
Microfinance growth expected to drive higher financial inclusion
Myanmar invites foreign investment in microfinance
Govt to demand more info from prospective investors
Foreigners only able to trade after October, YSX says
Local, Foreign Insurance Cos. Readying to Sell in Myanmar
Wave Money focuses on 4G finance opportunities
Myanmar's new insurers face a tough sell

Food & Agriculture
Official calls for Lower House approval of farm amendment
Myanmar receives first shipment of U.S. bulk wheat
Myanmar hosts workshop for sustainability of diverse ecosystems
Coffee industry expands as overseas demand rises
Myanmar calls for agricultural cooperation in Bay of Bengal subregion
Farmers complain against sale of false Japanese brand harvesters

Health & Life Sciences
Myanmar committed to eliminating hepatitis - Minister
Myanmar committed to eliminating hepatitis
Act fast on swine flu
H1N1 death toll breaks 2017 record
How Myanmar became an example to the world in the battle against malaria
Villagers get diseases from waste-contaminated water
60 Yangon schools picked for health program

ICT
Myanmar Govt to Launch Satellite, Improve Communications
First ever android developers conference in Yangon
The spyware used by Arab dictators has now shown up in Myanmar
With Myanmar’s Internet Expansion, Cybercrimes Soar
Mytel fined K300m, Telenor and another telecom company warned for violations
Business groups call for Myanmar to end internet shutdown

Infrastructure
Out to improve traffic safety in Myanmar
Authorities approve Htantabin, Hlegu projects
Myanmar’s countryside is emptying and its cities bursting
Insurance, banking and electricity to see more investor interest
Five-year judicial strategic plan being implemented for speedy judicial reform
Work on City Side of Yangon-Dala Bridge to Start Next Month
Chin’s first major airport 50% complete
China-led port project inches ahead in Myanmar
Hanthawaddy Airport to link with an expressway and express railroad

Manufacturing
More foreign investments enter in production and industrial sectors: DICA
EITI applied in forestry sector for the first time
Revamping Myanmar’s garment industry
Loopholes in Myanmar’s Forest Sector Cost Govt Million in Revenue

Travel & Tourism
Govt calls for sustainable tourism investments in Tanintharyi
Myanmar’s tourism gets a boost
How Myanmar aims to stimulate investment in tourism
'Zero-dollar tourism' surges in Myanmar
Bagan to host Mekong Tourism Forum
Myanmar's president urges people to promote cultural heritage to world
Tourism Ministry remains positive as visa restrictions eased
Concerns may emerge when Bagan hotels, businesses are forced to move
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
National Affairs

In the NLD’s Cabinets, a High Rate of Turnover The Irrawaddy 30th Jul 2019
The Union government announced its latest cabinet reshuffle on Friday, with Industry Minister U Khin Maung Cho resigning his position amid a corruption scandal. The electricity minister and his deputy are currently under investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in a separate scandal. U Khin Maung Cho is the second Union minister forced out by corruption allegations since the National League for Democracy (NLD) came to power in 2016. In May last year, U Kyaw Win was sacked as finance minister while under investigation by the ACC.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi tops PACE public-trust survey The Myanmar Times 30th Jul 2019
Seventy percent of Myanmar people trust State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, or 1pc more than for President U Win Myint, according to a survey by the People’s Alliance for Credible Elections (PACE). Ko Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint, executive director of PACE, said, “Maybe the State Counsellor’s high trust rating will be an advantage for the [ruling National League of Democracy] in 2020. However, to be politically mature, people should vote for a party’s policies not for a person.”

First constitutional change bid in four years kicks off in parliament Frontier Myanmar 30th Jul 2019
The National League for Democracy’s long-standing campaign to reform the 2008 Constitution returns to the Union parliament this week, with a debate to begin on Tuesday on a report that contains nearly 4,000 proposals to amend the military-drafted charter. A total of 125 lawmakers had registered last week for what was expected to be a lively debate. These include 78 unelected MPs from the Tatmadaw, which opposes the report and the formation of the committee that composed it, claiming that they violated the constitution and parliamentary procedure.

Military Lawmakers Withdraw from Charter Amendment Debate The Irrawaddy 29th Jul 2019
Military-appointed lawmakers have withdrawn from a planned debate on proposed constitutional amendments that would restrict the military’s role in politics. “The debate is not yet about the constitutional amendment bill. Perhaps this is the reason they have withdrawn. I am not clear what other motivations they have, but they have withdrawn,” Upper House lawmaker and ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party member U Aung Kyi Nyunt told The Irrawaddy. “As [Parliament] has just opened today [after the weekend], they might have withdrawn today.”

Union ministers come under fire for corruption The Myanmar Times 26th Jul 2019
President U Win Myint has reportedly decided to replace Union Industry Minister U Khin Maung Cho for his involvement in a corruption scandal, Myanmar Times understands. This makes him the second minister to step down on counts of corruption. In May last year, U Kyaw Win relinquished his position as finance minister in the midst of a corruption investigation. Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is investigating the bank transactions related to the accounts of the Union Minister of Electricity and Energy, his deputy and their wives.

No justice reform without the Tatmadaw Frontier Myanmar 25th Jul 2019
A NEW directive from Chief Justice U Htun Htun Oo has significant implications for the judiciary. Directive 114/414 took effect on July 1 and was aimed at expediting existing cases that had faced unnecessary delays and ensuring that subsequent cases were completed within a certain period. The move came as the judiciary continues to attract criticism from a public among which very few believe that court decisions are fair and just. A rich or well-connected plaintiff can, for instance, prolong a case for as long as they want to create difficulties for a defendant.

US Visa Ban Unlikely to See Military Change Course The Irrawaddy 23rd Jul 2019
Last week, we saw the Trump administration take action against Myanmar’s top generals, barring them entry to the United States for their role in orchestrating the 2017 crackdown against Rohingya Muslims. The travel ban applies to Myanmar’s top military leader, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, his deputy, Vice Senior General Soe Win, two other senior generals and their families. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the “Trump administration is the first government to publicly take action with respect to the most senior leadership of the Burmese military.”

Public access to info: Planned archives law alarms civil society The Myanmar Times 22nd Jul 2019
Myanmar’s government is proposing a new law on storing records and archives which critics fear will restrict public access to state information. If approved by parliament, the law would make accessing information stored in the National Archives Department without permission a criminal offence, with a maximum prison sentence of three months and K200,000 fine. Advocacy group Free Expression Myanmar (FEM) warns that the government would be in complete control of deciding who can access government-held information, even with the lowest classification of confidentiality.

U.S. Sanctions Senior Myanmar Generals Over Rohingya 'Ethnic Cleansing' NPR 17th Jul 2019
The State Department said it has issued sanctions to four top military leaders in Myanmar over what it called "gross human rights violations" during the "ethnic cleansing" of the Rohingya Muslim minority. Targets of the sanctions include the military's commander in chief Min Aung Hlaing, his deputy Soe Win, Brig. Gen. Than Oo and Brig. Gen. Aung Aung. The sanctions, which were announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday, mean the leaders and their immediate families are barred from entry into the United States.

US Sanctions Hurt Military Dignity: Spokesperson The Irrawaddy 17th Jul 2019
Military spokesperson Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun said the United States’ imposition of new sanctions against Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw) chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and other senior leaders in connection with Rakhine issues ruins the image of the military. The United States announced sanctions on Tuesday against Myanmar military Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, Deputy Vice Snr-Gen Soe Win and two other senior commanders it said were responsible for the extrajudicial killings of Rohingyas in northern Rakhine State, barring them from entering the United States. The sanctions also cover the military leaders’ families.

Ethnic parties merge in attempt to win 2020 election The Myanmar Times 15th Jul 2019
Six new parties have been formed by the mergers of ethnic parties with the approval of the Union Election Commission to contest in the 2020 election. The Kachin State People’s Party has been formed by three Kachin parties, the Kayah State Democratic Party has been formed by two Kayah parties, the Karen National Democratic Party has been formed by three Karen parties, the Chin National League for Democracy has been formed by three Chin parties, the Mon Unity Party has been formed by two Mon parties, and the Inn National Development Party has been formed by two ethnic Inn parties. They said their objective is to contest all seats up for election in their respective state hluttaws.

Trademark and Geographical Indication Law (TGIL) in Myanmar: Summary and Recommendations - Intellectual Property - Myanmar Mondaq 11th Jul 2019
We have previously discussed Myanmar's new Trademark Law. It should also be noted that the same Law is also the primary legislation on the protection of geographical indications (GIs) in Myanmar. Chapter 16 (Sections 53 to 60) of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Law No. 3 of 2019, fully titled the Trademark and Geographical Indications Law (TGIL), deals exclusively with GIs, and this is our summary of its contents as well as our recommendations for those interested in registering GIs in Myanmar in under the TGIL.

Ignoring Ethnic Parties will Hurt NLD in 2020 The Irrawaddy 10th Jul 2019
The failure of Myanmar’s ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party to build healthy relationships with the country’s ethnic populations and their political parties could hurt the Daw Aung San Suu Kyi-led party in the general election next year, especially in ethnic states. Political observers have noticed the NLD’s failure to honor the wishes of indigenous people in ethnic states. Offenses include naming a bridge in Mon State after General Aung San, the country’s late independence leader and father of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, despite thousands of locals marching against it and petitioning both state and Union parliaments to reverse their decisions.

Customs

Myanmar Liquor Association urges stricter control over grey market The Myanmar Times 30th Jul 2019
The Myanmar Liquor Association (MLA) released a statement last Wednesday urging the government to tackle the grey market and implement more transparent regulations for the valuation of liquor imports. The statement also provided a clarification that MLA does not object to the importation of liquor if there is a “level playing field” for the local manufacturers.

Stakeholders want temporary ban on refined-sugar imports The Myanmar Times 29th Jul 2019
Local sugar mill owners and sugar-cane farmers are demanding that refined sugar imports be stopped and that re-export permits for the commodity not be issued after sugar prices plunged to 10-year lows. A drop in Chinese demand has not only left stocks piling up in warehouses, it has also caused refined sugar prices to fall to K960 a viss (1.6 kilogrammes), the price it was trading for in 2009. China was the largest buyer of sugar from Myanmar from 2015 until mid-2017, when it stopped importing from the country. At the peak of China’s demand in 2016, 3 million tonnes of sugar were re-exported to the country from Myanmar.

FDA declares imported flu vaccines sold online illegal The Myanmar Times 29th Jul 2019
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday announced that the Vaxigrip Tetra Injectable Suspension flu vaccines being sold online are considered illegal imported drugs and warned that public not to buy or use them. The vaccines need to be stored in a “cold chain” temperature-controlled supply chain, but there is no way to ensure the vaccines sold online are being handled properly, the FDA said. “These vaccines are not registered as imported drugs with the FDA as yet and there is no pharmaceutical importer who registered with the FDA to handle the drugs,” Director U Min Wun, head of the Yangon branch of the FDA told The Myanmar Times.

Myanmar to pick deep-sea port location next year The Myanmar Times 24th Jul 2019
“Construction of a Yangon deep-sea port is one of the projects included as second priority in the National Transport Master Plan. Work is being made and the location can be finally selected and approved within 2020,” U Aung Ye Tun, assistant secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, told The Myanmar Times. Asked about the cost and project details, he said an analysis would be conducted before construction work begins. “Only after the analysis is completed, approval will be made regarding the implementation method, that is, whether it is done by a public-private partnership model or by a loan.”

Myanmar to lift licensing requirement for some import items The Myanmar Times 19th Jul 2019
Licenses for importing some of the over 4,000 products into the country will be done away with as part of the move to facilitate trade and ensure Myanmar adheres to international trade regulations. Ministry of Commerce assistant secretary U Khin Maung Lwin said import licenses will be done away with in a move to facilitate freer trade. “Some items will be liberalized but not all. We mainly aim for trade facilitation,” he said. There were more than 10,000 items that needed licenses to be imported into the country previously but through liberalization, only around 4,000 such items still require licenses. The Ministry of Commerce will discuss with related departments as to which items will not need import licenses.

Myanmar OKs almost 200 foreign investment projects in current FY Asia Customs & Trade 17th Jul 2019
Myanmar’s foreign investments in the first nine months of its current fiscal year (FY) have reached nearly 200 projects valued at a little over US$3 billion. The Myanmar Investment Commission has approved 197 foreign investment projects in the first nine months of its current fiscal year (FY) 2018-2019, according to figures from the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration. From October 2018 to June 2019, a total of $3.16 billion worth of investments entered Myanmar from the permitted projects, reported Xinhua News. During the nine-month period, transport and communications topped the list with over $1.47 billion investments, followed by the manufacturing sector with $988.8 million, and other services with $311.9 million.

Defense & Security

India, Myanmar sign defence cooperation agreement The Economic Times 29th Jul 2019
India and Myanmar on Monday signed a defence co-operation agreement providing for boosting military engagement between the two countries. The pact was inked after Commander-in-Chief of Myanmar's Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing held extensive talks with Minister of State for Defence Shripad Yesso Naik. Hlaing, accompanied by a high-level delegation from the Myanmar Defence Services, also met Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, Chief of Army Staff General Bipi.

Grenade Found Outside NLD Office in Yangon’s Thingangyun Township The Irrawaddy 24th Jul 2019
A grenade was found outside the ruling National League for Democracy’s office in Yangon’s Thingangyun Township on Wednesday morning, just a day after a bomb scare at NLD lawmakers’ living quarters in Naypyitaw. The explosive, which was spotted outside the building by a cleaner, was later seized by police, according to a statement issued by the NLD’s Thingangyun branch. On Tuesday, Naypyitaw Police Station No. 1 received a phone call warning that a bomb had been placed in the building that serves as the living quarters for most of the NLD lawmakers.

Israel to bar Myanmar officials from arms expos Haaretz 17th Jul 2019
The Israeli government will bar military representatives from Myanmar from attending arms expositions held in Israel as long as Myanmar remains under an international arms embargo over its human rights violations, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has decided. The decision followed a Haaretz report that army officers from Myanmar, the East Asian country formerly known as Burma, had attended the Israel Defense and Homeland Security expo in Tel Aviv last month. From now on, the ministry said, requests for visas to attend arms expositions coming from the nationals of countries to which Israel refuses to sell arms will be rejected.

Will Myanmar’s Navy Get Its First Submarine From the Indian Navy? The Diplomat 30th Jul 2019
India will transfer one of its Russian-made Kilo-class diesel-electric attack submarines to the Myanmar Navy later this year, the Economic Times reported on Tuesday. The transfer will take place with Russia’s acquiescence and would be the Myanmar Navy’s first submarine when delivered. The vessel has a submerged tonnage of approximately 3,000 tons. The vessel is 72.6 meters long with a beam measurement of 9.9 meters. It is armed with the Russian 3M-54 Kalibr short-range, subsonic cruise missile, and the Type 53 torpedo.

India, Myanmar sign MoU on defence co-operation https://www.livemint.com 29th Jul 2019
India and Myanmar on Monday signed a defence co-operation agreement after the two sides held talks on a range of issues including reviewing joint exercises and training provided to Myanmar Defence Services in India, strengthening maritime security through joint surveillance and developing new infrastructure. “The talks were aimed at enhancing defence co-operation, review joint exercises and training provided to Myanmar Defence Services, strengthening maritime security by joint surveillance and capacity building, medical co-operation, pollution response and developing new infrastructure," a statement from the defence ministry said.

Myanmar Military Proposes Larger Budget for ‘Stronger’ Armed Forces The Irrawaddy 22nd Jul 2019
The Defense Ministry on Monday requested more than 3.37 trillion kyats (US$2.22 billion) for fiscal year 2019-20, which begins Oct. 1. The amount is more than 100 billion kyats more than the ministry requested for the previous fiscal year. Major-General Myint Nwe, deputy minister of defense, told Parliament on Monday that this year’s defense budget request represents an increase of 122.41 billion kyats over last year’s actual budget of 3.24 trillion kyats.

Energy

Foreigners welcome to set up retail-petroleum business The Myanmar Times 31st Jul 2019
Foreign oil and gas companies with retail operations can apply to set up their businesses in Myanmar, a senior official with the Ministry of Electricity and Energy (MOEE) told The Myanmar Times. While Myanmar remains the only member of Asean that does not allow 100 percent ownership in retail petroleum operations, it has allowed foreign oil and gas companies to cooperate with local retail petroleum operators to set up shop in the country since 2017. The government allowed private sector participation in retail petroleum operations from 2010.

Solar power shines in Myanmar The ASEAN Post 28th Jul 2019
Myanmar’s launch of its first commercial solar plant last month is a step in the right direction for a country that has yet to provide more than half of its citizens with proper access to electricity. Constructed on over 836 acres of land, an area equivalent to almost 530 football fields, the Minbu Solar Power Plant will be ASEAN’s largest solar power plant according to Thailand’s META Corporation – the project’s contractor and developer. Although the project has been hailed as ground-breaking, there is still a long way to go before Myanmar achieves its goal of 100 percent electrification by 2030.

Anti-Corruption Committee Steps Up Energy Ministry Investigation The Irrawaddy 22nd Jul 2019
The Myanmar Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has stepped up its corruption investigation of the Ministry of Electricity and Energy, seizing the minutes of intra-ministry meetings going back three years earlier this month. The Irrawaddy has found that the anti-graft body searched the ministry after unsuccessfully attempting to obtain information from the Project Appraisal and Progress Reporting Department, which is overseen by the Ministry of Planning and Finance.

Micro Power Plant Start-up Pursues Electrification Plan in Myanmar Microgrid Knowledge 18th Jul 2019
A solar energy-centered microgrid start-up — one that develops what it calls micro power systems — is bringing electrification for the first time to towns and villages in Myanmar. Gaining the support of foreign development organizations such as Norway’s Norfund, Yoma Micro Power has installed 51 off-grid micro power plants in rural Myanmar towns and villages and plans to deliver another 200 by the end of this year. They combine solar PV, battery energy storage and diesel generators for back-up power, all governed by intelligent microgrid control and management software.

Long-term energy policy needed The Star Online 11th Jul 2019
Malaysia needs a long-term energy policy to ensure the sustainability of supply and attract investments into the country. These were among the key points shared at yesterday’s energy roundtable, a public-private discussion on the future of Malaysia’s energy landscape organised by Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. Petronas president and group CEO Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin said that while oil and gas (O&G) are expected to remain as the major energy mix, the firm has been taking steps to make the push into renewable energy (RE).

Renewable and nonrenewable energy in Myanmar's economic growth EurekAlert! 23rd Jul 2019
The Republic of the Union of Myanmar is located in the western part of the Indochinese Peninsula and has a number of peculiar economic features. Green energy accounts for a considerable share of the country's energy balance. However, Myanmar is the second biggest source of greenhouse emissions among ASEAN states. The state revoked fossil fuel subsidies in 2007 to prevent its wide use, and three years later a military government was overthrown by a democratic one which attracted investments to the country. Trade liberalization and increased economic growth accelerated the production of renewable energy. Recently the growth of GDP in Myanmar has been amounting to 6.9% p.a.

Overland cross-border natural gas pipelines fuel China's energy supply Xinhua 23rd Jul 2019
China has imported 300 billion cubic meters of natural gas through the China-Central Asia pipelines and the China-Myanmar natural gas pipelines since they were put into operation, according to the China National Petroleum Corporation. As two key components of China's northwest and southwest energy transmission routes, these two pipelines have imported 51.7 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2018, up from 15.3 billion cubic meters in 2011. Estimates show that the 300 billion cubic meters of natural gas could replace about 399 million tonnes of coal, and cut 426 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and 6.6 million tonnes of sulfur dioxide. As important projects connecting infrastructures of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, construction and operation of the pipelines has created nearly 10,000 jobs and fostered the development of the petroleum industry in the participating countries, the China National Petroleum Corporation said.

PTT will open the first station in Myanmar this year Petrol Plaza 18th Jul 2019
Thai energy company PTT Oil and Retail Business (PTTOR) has made official its entry into the Myanmar market by announcing the opening of stations and the construction of fuel depots. PTTOR will open its first gas station in Myanmar by the end of year and will build tank depots for oil and LPG as well as other fuelling facilities, according to Attapol Rerkpiboom, Chairman of PTTOR.

Increase Coal Power Plants in 2030 is Myanmar’s Goal GineersNow 18th Jul 2019
Every year, Myanmar’s energy demands will gradually increase, thus the developmentof more thermalpower plants should be advanced in order to solve this issue. Thermal Power would still continue to work without relying on seasonal or environmental conditions. They proposed a master plan to solve this issue by relying on coal as a feasible energy source by 2030. Their expected output would total up to 7,940 MW or 33% of their installed capacity (23,594 MW). This is a large scale upgrade since currently; their coal energy production is at a measly 2%.

Faster implementation of power projects needed in Chin State The Myanmar Times 17th Jul 2019
The state, bordering Bangladesh and India in western Myanmar and traversed by a number of mountain ranges with fast-flowing rivers, has seen much interest from foreign investors in building hydropower plants. According to the state government, more than 30 such projects have been proposed or are undergoing feasibility studies. Companies from China, France and Norway have expressed interest in such projects.

Myanmar energy reform: rate hike aims to fund infrastructure investment Power Technology | Energy News and Market Analysis 15th Jul 2019
Myanmar has increased its electricity rates this month for both residents and businesses for the first time in five years in a move designed to fund investment in the sector and meet rising demand. Electricity rates in Myanmar have been the lowest in the ASEAN region, which in the long run appeared to be financially unsustainable. The proposal for the revised rates was put forward by the Ministry of Electricity and Energy (MOEE) and was approved by parliament in April 2019.

Solar micro-grids and energy access in Myanmar Smart Energy International 14th Jul 2019
Villages in Myanmar are taking electricity generation into their own hands, turning to solar micro-grids to power their homes. One of the solarpioneers in the country is Yoma Micro Power. It specialises in solar-powered generation and micro-grid distribution. Each of its 51 micro plants can power a small town and its surrounding areas. By the end of 2019, Yoma Micro Power plans to build 200 more solar power plants, towards a total of 2000 by 2022.

Financial Services

Growth potential seen in microfinance sector The Myanmar Times 30th Jul 2019
With a quarter of the Myanmar population living under the poverty line and as much as 87 percent hailing from rural areas, according to the World Bank, the microfinance sector has good potential to grow in Myanmar. However, providers can be more efficient in their funding if there is better financial data on borrowers. Microfinancing has grown rapidly since the country passed the Microfinance Business Law in 2011 allowing microfinancing firms to operate, with some 180 companies now serving 3.4 million clients and a total loan portfolio of K350 billion, according to the Myanmar Microfinance Association (MMFA).

Usage of int’l prepaid cards in kyat not allowed: CBM The Myanmar Times 29th Jul 2019
In a statement signed by CBM Director General Daw Myint Myint Kyi of the Accounts Department, the CBM noted that prepaid cards are being used to settle payments in Myanmar kyat at domestic shopping malls and restaurants. It told private banks that it had allowed prepaid cards from Master, Visa, UPI and JCB with a limit of US$5000 to be used as payment options by Myanmar nationals going abroad as well as foreigners in Myanmar.  However, prepaid card payments in the local currency are not allowed. 

Foreign Partners Poised to Aid Growth in Myanmar’s Life Insurance Sector The Irrawaddy 25th Jul 2019
While joint-venture proposals from foreign insurance companies are being reviewed by the country’s insurance business regulatory board, some of Myanmar’s largest insurance companies are already building bridges to leverage foreign expertise for the growth of Myanmar’s nascent insurance industry. After two years of delays, Myanmar began allowing insurance companies to operate in the country’s life insurance market for the first time in April. The Ministry of Planning and Finance—which oversees the regulatory board—has granted licenses to five foreign companies thus far: Chubb Tempest Reinsurance of the United States; Dai Ichi Life Insurance of Japan; AIA of Hong Kong; Prudential of England; and Manufacturers Life Insurance of Canada.

Microfinance growth expected to drive higher financial inclusion The Myanmar Times 24th Jul 2019
Efforts are being made to raise the rate of financial inclusion in the Myanmar. Under the Myanmar Financial Inclusion Roadmap for 2019 to 2023, authorities are working with the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) to raise the percentage of the population covered by the financial sector to 60 percent from 48pc currently, said Willian Naing, national officer at the UNCDF, during the Microfinance Success Asia event in Yangon on Tuesday. By 2023, the aim is to increase the percentage of households with access to formal bank accounts to half from a quarter currently. Over the period, more will also be done to raise formal financial inclusion for farmers to 60pc from 52pc and for employed individuals to 60pc from 51pc, Mr Naing said.

Myanmar invites foreign investment in microfinance Asia News Network 24th Jul 2019
In response to growing investors’ interest in Myanmar’s finance sector amid on-going market liberalisation, key players in the microfinance industry gathered on Tuesday at an event in Yangon, the nation’s hub of commerce. Phyu Yamin Myat, general secretary of Myanmar Microfinance Association, told the first-ever Microfinance Success Asia event in the country that foreign businesses are keen on entering this “huge market”. “Many investors are aware of the huge opportunities. Myanmar’s microfinance sector is competitively young but is growing very fast,” she said.

Govt to demand more info from prospective investors The Myanmar Times 22nd Jul 2019
The government has announced it will require more detailed documentation for investment proposals from August 1 following an investigation by The Myanmar Times into repeated transparency failures under the investment body. In a notification signed on July 18 but released on July 22, the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations announced a series of changes to the proposal form (Form 2) and endorsement application forms to both the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) at the Union level (Form 4-a) and to regional and state investment commissions (Form 4-b).

Foreigners only able to trade after October, YSX says The Myanmar Times 19th Jul 2019
Foreigners will only be able to trade shares on the Yangon Stock Exchange (YSX) after October, U Thet Tun Oo, executive manager of the bourse, told The Myanmar Times. This is in spite of the Security Exchange Commission of Myanmar (SECM) announcing on July 12 that foreigners would be allowed to trade on the YSX but without specifying the date. YSX executive manager U Thet Tun Oo told The Myanmar Times that while the SECM has agreed in principle to allow foreign participation, details still need to be ironed out and that will take about three months. The actual date for foreign participation will be announced by the YSX.

Local, Foreign Insurance Cos. Readying to Sell in Myanmar The Irrawaddy 23rd Jul 2019
Myanmar’s Ministry of Planning and Finance is set to give the go-ahead to joint ventures between local and foreign insurance companies next month. The country’s insurance business regulatory board, which is overseen by the Ministry of Planning and Finance, is currently scrutinizing companies that have submitted requests for proposals (RFP), U Zaw Naing, the board’s secretary, told The Irrawaddy. Partnering with foreign insurance firms that have opened representative offices in Myanmar, local companies such as IKBZ, AYA Myanmar Insurance and Grand Guardian Insurance will provide general insurance services and GGI, Capital Life Insurance and CB Insurance will provide life insurance service. Foreign companies will be able to hold up to a 35-percent stake in joint insurance ventures while the remaining 65 percent must be locally owned, according to U Zaw Naing.

Wave Money focuses on 4G finance opportunities Mobile World Live 23rd Jul 2019
The company, a joint venture between Telenor and Yoma Bank operating in Myanmar, isn’t looking at 5G “that closely at this stage in terms of the application of mobile money”. But Jones sees “great opportunities” to add value to its current service, for example by enabling it to offer virtual call centres, which it will explore “when those networks start to be built”. Wave Money initially offered cash transfer services based on unstructured supplementary service data (USSD, or quick codes) using SMS to deliver notifications. “And then, all of a sudden, the market just moved so quickly to 4G that we realised we had to, really, change our whole approach”. Today, agents and customers are connected via an app and, while money transfer remains at the heart of the company’s services, it is “moving heavily into ticketing” and serving an “incredible Facebook e-commerce market in Myanmar” involving several thousand transactions each month.

Myanmar's new insurers face a tough sell Frontier Myanmar 10th Jul 2019
When the government announced in January a road map for opening the nascent life and general insurance sectors to foreign companies, the move was widely applauded as an important economic reform. The potential for growth is massive; in a country of around 54 million, just 2 million people have any form of insurance cover, according to Ministry of Planning and Finance figures. Just 0.01 percent of people have life insurance and ministry figures from 2017 show that premiums amounted to just US$13 million. While third-party insurance is mandatory for vehicles, only 10 percent of the country’s roughly 600,000 cars had any additional cover in 2016.

Food & Agriculture

Official calls for Lower House approval of farm amendment The Myanmar Times 31st Jul 2019
U Hla Kyaw, deputy minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, urged the Pyithu Hluttaw (Lower House) to approve the farmland law amendment as quickly as possible. “I ask that the Bill Committee of the Pyithu Hluttaw discuss and implement the changes quickly,” he told the hluttaw on Thursday. According to the 2012 Farmland Law, 92 percent of land across the country was granted a use certificate for selling or buying, renting, transferring and right of inheritance. However, there were some difficulties in changing owner names and land use, so an amendment was submitted to the Lower House in July 2017. It has now been over two years, and the changes have still not been approved.

Myanmar receives first shipment of U.S. bulk wheat World Grain 26th Jul 2019
The first bulk grain vessel carrying U.S. wheat docked in Myanmar in mid-May. U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) representatives were present when the shipment carrying U.S. hard red spring (HRS) wheat purchased by a local flour mill arrived. The U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) began intensifying its work in Myanmar when it was announced two deep-water ports were to open in the country. “With the ability only to take container loads, U.S. wheat had to compete with less expensive supplies shipped mainly from nearly Australia,” the USW said. “Still, its political situation was changing and consumer purchasing power was growing.”

Myanmar hosts workshop for sustainability of diverse ecosystems Xinhua 23rd Jul 2019
Myanmar has hosted a workshop on teaching skills and information for carrying out community-based forest conservation in regions with different agricultural systems, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Tuesday. Led by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the government's Central Statistical Organization and local non-governmental organizations, the workshop was held in Nay Pyi Taw on Monday as part of the project to implement sustainable agricultural lands and forest resource management system for Myanmar's different ecosystems.

Coffee industry expands as overseas demand rises The Myanmar Times 22nd Jul 2019
Myanmar Coffee Association chairman U Myo Aye said the country’s specialty coffee “is getting acknowledged in the international market” while efforts have been made to sustain production in the local market, where consumption has grown. “We are trying to increase production for the export market and at the same time cultivating more coffee beans to meet local demand, which comprises the bulk of the market for domestically-produced coffee,” he said. He added that coffee production has improved especially in the last five years and the industry’s value chain from cultivation to market has also developed with technical assistance and help with market access from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Myanmar calls for agricultural cooperation in Bay of Bengal subregion Xinhua 12th Jul 2019
NAY PYI TAW, July 12 (Xinhua) -- A high ranking Myanmar agricultural official on Friday called for enhanced agricultural cooperation between member countries of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). Despite different level of development between BIMSTEC members, there exist similar challenges, and in order to eliminate poverty and enable equitable economic development for the long term, cooperation in agriculture should be enhanced, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Aung Thu told a ministerial meeting of the BIMSTEC in Nay Pyi Taw. By enhancing cooperation in agriculture-related sector, the BIMSTEC countries could achieve food and nutrition sufficiency and safeguard welfare of the growers, he said. The countries' combined gross domestic product stood 2.7 trillion U.S. dollars and the subregional group's population accounted for 22 percent of the world, he added. Project-wise discussions on agricultural cooperation between BIMSTEC countries were made at the ministerial meeting. Myanmar is assuming the leadership for agricultural sector under the BIMSTEC program which was agreed by member countries in December 2017. BIMSTEC groups Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Myanmar joined the subregional group in 1997.

Farmers complain against sale of false Japanese brand harvesters Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 10th Jul 2019
Complaint letters have been sent to state leaders and the Competition Commission calling for action against the case in which local farmers were tricked into buying China-made combine harvesters instead of Japan-made ones, said Zaw Ran from the Farmers' Network to The Daily Eleven on July 2.  Copies of the complaint went to the President, the State Counsellor, respective chief ministers and the Competition Commission. Local farmers from five regions came to Yangon on June 28 to discuss the matter with the network. The five regions are Ayeyawady, Yangon, Bago, Mandalay and Sagaing.   

Health & Life Sciences

Myanmar committed to eliminating hepatitis - Minister Mizzima Myanmar News and Insight 31st Jul 2019
Myanmar health authorities have voiced a commitment to eliminating hepatitis, saying that they will continue to collaborate with the World Hepatitis Alliance on prevention and treatment of the disease, Xinhua reported quoting the Ministry of Health and Sports on Monday. Commemorating World Hepatitis Day 2019 in Yangon on Sunday, Minister of Health and Sports Myint Htwe vowed to take action in line with this year's motto "Invest in Eliminating Hepatitis."

Myanmar committed to eliminating hepatitis Mizzima Myanmar News and Insight 30th Jul 2019
Myanmar health authorities have voiced a commitment to eliminating hepatitis, saying that they will continue to collaborate with the World Hepatitis Alliance on prevention and treatment of the disease, Xinhua reported quoting the Ministry of Health and Sports on Monday. Commemorating World Hepatitis Day 2019 in Yangon on Sunday, Minister of Health and Sports Myint Htwe vowed to take action in line with this year's motto "Invest in Eliminating Hepatitis."

Act fast on swine flu Bangkok Post 23rd Jul 2019
The emergence of an H1N1 "swine flu" epidemic with heavy fatalities in Myanmar, an immediate neighbour of ours, should put Thai health officials on red alert. There are reports that 62 people have already perished, with more than 40 deaths in Yangon alone since the outbreak started in June. As of July 19, it is reported that more than 300 patients registered at local hospitals, according to regional media reports. Out of 216 patients with influenza-like symptoms, 39 were found to have A (H1N1), 12 A (H3N2) and eight influenza B. Out of 584 severe acute respiratory infection (Sari) patients, 249 were found to have A (H1N1), 11 A (H3N2) and 11 influenza B.

H1N1 death toll breaks 2017 record The Myanmar Times 22nd Jul 2019
Ministry officials said 38 deaths were reported during the H1N1 outbreak in Myanmar in 2017, and 406 people were confirmed to have been treated at government hospitals for the virus. The deaths this year include 46 of the 169 suspected cases at government hospitals in Yangon Region, four in Ayeyarwady Region, three in Magwe Region, two in Sagaing Region, two in Kayah State, one in Bago Region, and one in Kachin State, according to the Public Health Department’s Central Epidemiology Unit. Most of the victims had chronic health problems and weak immune systems. People with a high risk of death from the disease include those who have diabetes, hypertension and respiratory problems. Most of the victims were between 15 and 65 years old.

How Myanmar became an example to the world in the battle against malaria the Guardian 18th Jul 2019
With a plastic case full of cheap medical supplies and only a few days’ training, Say Mu Phaw is on the verge of eliminating malaria from her village in south-eastern Myanmar’s Tanintharyi region. Back in 2015, her first full year as a village health worker, 16 people came down with the disease in Mi Kyaung Hlaung, where roughly 600 residents live surrounded by mosquito-ridden tropical forests. Last year, armed with latex gloves, lancets and a supply of disposable malaria testing kits, she diagnosed just one villager despite testing 250 people. Before she started work, most of her neighbours had only a vague idea of what malaria was and how to prevent it. “Now, whenever they see symptoms, they’ll approach me first rather than the other way round,” she says. Say Mu Phaw is one of thousands of volunteers across the country to have received training and supplies from foreign donors since political reforms began at the start of this decade, ushering in a flood of aid. Their efforts have helped save thousands of lives, and are fast turning Myanmar from a malaria black spot into a world leader in the fight to eliminate the disease. Across the country, almost 4,000 people died from malaria in 2010, according to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates. In 2017, the disease claimed just over 200 lives.

Villagers get diseases from waste-contaminated water The Myanmar Times 10th Jul 2019
Adults and children who rely on the river for bathing and household water because they can’t afford clean water are suffering from skin disease, according to some residents of Myo Pyin Gyi village in Amarapura township of Mandalay. “Many people are itching because of the wastewater. Those who have money can dig wells for household use and bathing, and buy drinking water, but poor people and those living along the river have to use the river water, and they are always itching,” said U Win Saung a 10-household leader in Myo Pyin Gyi. The village of more than 300 houses and about 1000 people is a half mile from the sewage pipe. In the past, residents used the river water for bathing and drinking, but the water has been undrinkable for about a decade, he said, and now two-thirds of the houses in the village have wells. The wastewater pipe goes through Nyaung Ni Bin village and discharges into the Dotehtawady above the villages of Myo Pyin Gyi, Myo Thit, Myit Nge, Nyaung Bin Sauk and Sar Toe. When the river level is low, the river gives off foul smells and there are more mosquitoes, some Myo Pyin Gyi villagers said.

60 Yangon schools picked for health program The Myanmar Times 10th Jul 2019
Yangon health authorities will work with 60 schools in the region on a health program to promote knowledge of health standards among students in the current academic year, a senior official of the Yangon Region Public Health Department has announced. “We need to accelerate the dissemination of this type of knowledge in schools. Awareness of health knowledge is very important,” Dr Daw Sandar, director of the department, said on Saturday at an advocacy meeting to strengthen promotion of health knowledge in schools. The program will focus on nine areas: health education, school environmental sanitation, school-based disease control, nutrition and food safety, medical examination, including primary oral care and dental examinations, community outreach, counselling and social support, training and research, and sports and physical activity.

ICT

Myanmar Govt to Launch Satellite, Improve Communications The Irrawaddy 31st Jul 2019
Myanmar is planning to launch its own satellite system, Myanmar Sat 2, next week; the satellite is expected to provide a better communication system across the country, according to a communications ministry engineer. Chief Engineer of the Ministry of Transport and Communications’ Information Technology and Cyber Security Department U Win Aung told the government newspaper that the satellite will provide a high-speed communication system across the country, including far-flung areas. The satellite will reinforce the capacity of communication operators particularly in mobile and internet networks, he said.

First ever android developers conference in Yangon Mizzima Myanmar News and Insight 15th Jul 2019
Each room is filled with software enthusiasts and newcomers who want to find out new information in the technology sector. They are spending their whole day catching up on cutting-edge trends in the real business world and reaching out to software developers both from local and global leading technology companies such as Google, LINE, Nexlabs and Wave Money.

The spyware used by Arab dictators has now shown up in Myanmar MIT Technology Review 10th Jul 2019
A powerful German spyware company had its hacking tools spotted in Myanmar. One of the oldest private hacking companies around found itself in the spotlight again this week. Gamma Group, a German company that sells spyware to the highest bidder, was discovered within the last year to be spying on dozens of mobile devices in different parts of the world by the Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky. Last month, Kaspersky found Gamma Group’s FinSpy malware in Myanmar. The hacking tool known as FinSpy, if successful, steals everything from text messages to emails, photos, and GPS data. It also targets secure and encrypted messengers like Signal, WhatsApp, and Telegram. Those apps, often used for their exceptional security against hackers at a distance, offer little protection against malware that’s successfully executed on a target’s phone.

With Myanmar’s Internet Expansion, Cybercrimes Soar The Irrawaddy 10th Jul 2019
As internet access in Myanmar expanded with affordable SIM cards and reliable 3G and 4G network infrastructure, between 2015 and 2018 the country recorded over 2,000 cybercrimes, according to statistics from the Home Affairs Ministry. A crime unit tasked with investigating cybercrimes was established in 2015 under the ministry, and the number of cybercrimes reported to the unit has increased year by year, said Police Colonel Nyunt Wai of the cybercrime unit. Most of the cybercrimes reported involved online fraud and online sexual violence, the police colonel said.

Mytel fined K300m, Telenor and another telecom company warned for violations Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 29th Jul 2019
Telecom International Myanmar Co Ltd (Mytel) has been fined K300 million for discipline violations,  while Telenor Myanmar Limited and Amara Communication Co Ltd have faced warnings, according to the Directorate of Telecommunications. Mytel was fined for violating the rules and disciplines included in the pricing and tariff regulatory framework. 

Business groups call for Myanmar to end internet shutdown The Myanmar Times 15th Jul 2019
Five European business groups in Yangon have signed a statement urging the Myanmar authorities to restore internet access in Rakhine and Chin states. The statement warns of the “possible reputational impact in the international community and view of Myanmar as a responsible investment destination” being wrought by the internet-shutdown.

Infrastructure

Out to improve traffic safety in Myanmar The Myanmar Times 30th Jul 2019
Anyone new to Myanmar will be cautious when crossing the roads, even when the green walk light is on. Rules are unclear, for both pedestrians and cars. Though efforts to improve safety on the roads have been made, like introducing pedestrian walkway lights and new zebra crossings, the city roads are still somewhat chaotic. All this may change, with a new Road Safety Audit (RSA) and Road Safety Inspection (RSI) system introduced in the country. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was recently signed on 13 July by the Myanmar Engineering Society, Su Foundation and Total E&P Myanmar (Yadanar CSR Programme) to initiate a review of the problems of road safety in the country.

Authorities approve Htantabin, Hlegu projects The Myanmar Times 18th Jul 2019
Members of Parliament (MPs) for the regional Hluttaw of Yangon has finally given the green light for the Htantabin and Hlegu industrial park projects to the north of Yangon city. The MPs approved both projects after Minister of Karen National Affairs Naw Pang Thinzar Myo, who is also the chair of the Yangon Region Investment Committee (YRIC), gave more details on the projects, including their backers. The Hluttaw approved both projects, part of the 11 new industrial parks proposed in 11 mostly rural townships as announced at the Yangon Investment Forum, on July 12.The projects, according to YRIC secretary U Myo Khaing Oo, are expected to start early next year.

Myanmar’s countryside is emptying and its cities bursting The Economist 13th Jul 2019
When she moved from her village to Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, Ma Thet Thet Nwe was afraid. Her husband had just died and she needed to provide for five children. She found work at a garment factory in Hlaingthaya, an industrial zone, and saved enough money to buy a one-room, bamboo house in a nearby shantytown. Now she is pleased with her lot. Two of her daughters work in garment factories, while she cares for her other children and runs a roadside café. Factory work is easy, she says with a smile—much better than toiling in the fields.

Insurance, banking and electricity to see more investor interest The Myanmar Times 11th Jul 2019
While the oil and gas industry has the seen the most interest from investors, banking and financial services, telecommunications and the manufacturing industries are expected to be the focus in the years ahead as the country’s economy grows. Data from the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) shows that since 2016, the manufacturing industries and telecommunications have seen the most interest from foreign investors. DICA data showed that the manufacturing industries have seen between US$1 billion and US$2 billion in investments per year while telecommunications have received US$2 billion per year in the last three years.

Five-year judicial strategic plan being implemented for speedy judicial reform Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 10th Jul 2019
A five-year judicial strategic plan (2018-2022) is being implemented for speedy reform of Myanmar's judicial sector, according to a work coordination meeting on the implementation of Case Management Program-CMP with regional-level judicial departments and organizations. Based on the results of CMP implemented at Hlaingthaya Township Court in Yangon Region in 2015, East District Court also implemented it on August 1, 2018. Again, the CMP is being implemented at township courts in East District, West District Court and township courts in West District beginning from July 1, said Yangon Region law officer Kyaw Swar Nyein. 

Work on City Side of Yangon-Dala Bridge to Start Next Month The Irrawaddy 26th Jul 2019
Construction on the Yangon side of the planned Yangon-Dala Bridge will begin next month, regional Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein said at a regional investment committee meeting on Wednesday. Spanning the Yangon River, the bridge—also known as the Korea-Myanmar Friendship Bridge, as it is funded by South Korea’s Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF)—will link downtown Yangon and Dala Township. The bridge is scheduled to be complete in early 2022, the chief minister said. “Work on the approach road on the Yangon side will begin next month. Construction materials have already arrived,” he said.

Chin’s first major airport 50% complete The Myanmar Times 17th Jul 2019
Surbung Airport will be the first major airport in the state when it opens in September 2020, U Ye Htut Aung, Deputy Director General of the Department of Civil Aviation, told Myanmar Times in February. Construction of the K 30 billion airport, which began in 2016-17, had originally been scheduled for completion in 2021-22. But earlier this year, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint gave instructions for construction to be completed in 2020 and for the airport to begin operating in September. 

China-led port project inches ahead in Myanmar Asia Times 15th Jul 2019
Myanmar’s US$1.3 billion Kyaukphyu deep-sea port project, a China-backed scheme under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is one small step closer to realization. CITIC Group Corporation, the Chinese state firm leading the project, started this month a legally required environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) and preliminary geological survey, the first signs of on-the-ground progress for the mega-project.

Hanthawaddy Airport to link with an expressway and express railroad Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 11th Jul 2019
The first phase of Hanthawaddy international airport project will link with an expressway and second phase will link with an express railroad, according to state owned newspaper quoting an official from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. Department for Civil Aviation (DCA) will provide about 3,600 hectares of land for the new airport project and it will be linked with a railroad network.

Manufacturing

More foreign investments enter in production and industrial sectors: DICA Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 29th Jul 2019
More foreign investments are entered in production and industrial sectors and halted in real estate and housing sectors, said Thant Sin Lwin, Director General of Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA). In last five years, most foreign investments entered into hydropower production and natural gas sectors. At the present, the increase of foreign investment in production and industrial sectors is not noticeable significantly as only small amount of foreign investments entered in those sectors.

EITI applied in forestry sector for the first time The Myanmar Times 24th Jul 2019
Myanmar’s forestry sector was included in the Myanmar Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (MEITI) report for the first time this year. Myanmar is the second country to have its forestry sector included in the EITI. Guided by the belief that a country’s natural resources belong to its citizens, the EITI is the global standard for promoting open and accountable management of its resources. It requires the disclosure of information along the extractive industry value chain from the point of extraction, to how revenues make their way through the government, and how they benefit the public.

Revamping Myanmar’s garment industry The ASEAN Post 16th Jul 2019
Myanmar’s garment industry has cemented itself as an important engine of sustainable development, with the country now the region’s latest hub for low-cost clothing. With minimum wages lower than China, Cambodia and Vietnam – all neighbouring countries with established garment manufacturing sectors of their own – Myanmar has attracted orders from international retailers such as Adidas, Gap, H&M and Marks & Spencer. Leading the country’s manufactured goods export sector, Myanmar’s garment exports rose from US$349 million in 2010 to nearly US$4.6 billion last year – making up around 10 percent of the country’s export revenues.

Loopholes in Myanmar’s Forest Sector Cost Govt Million in Revenue The Irrawaddy 11th Jul 2019
Internationally known for forestry products such as teak, timber extraction in Myanmar is lucrative. The website of the Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE) boasts that the “forestry sector in Myanmar is one of the major contributors to the national economy.” A new report from the Myanmar Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (MEITI) reveals that the forest sector earned more than US$463 million in fiscal year 2014-15 and nearly $480 million the following year, representing 0.2 percent of the country’s GDP.

Travel & Tourism

Govt calls for sustainable tourism investments in Tanintharyi The Myanmar Times 31st Jul 2019
Amid a rise in the number of Chinese tourists and so called zero-dollar tours to Myanmar in the recent months, the government is now calling for sustainable and quality investments for Tanintharyi Region’s tourism industry. U Thaung Tun, chair of the Myanmar Investment Commission and Minister of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations and U Ohn Maung, Minister of Hotels and Tourism, urged investors to go for sustainable development and quality when looking to invest in the region, located in the far south of Myanmar bordering Thailand.

Myanmar’s tourism gets a boost The ASEAN Post 26th Jul 2019
The launch of the Myanma Tourism Bank (MTB) earlier this year is the latest initiative by the Myanmar government to spur development in its growing tourism sector. Offering low interest loans to Myanmar’s tourism players, the bank started operations at its headquarters in Yangon on 6 May – with offices in the capital Nay Pyi Taw and Mandalay among those in the bank’s ambitious plan for a network of 10 branches by the end of 2019. Boasting a multitude of religious landmarks, luxury resorts and sandy beaches, Myanmar is fast gaining a reputation as an attractive tourist destination and drew in 3.55 million visitors last year.

How Myanmar aims to stimulate investment in tourism The Myanmar Times 16th Jul 2019
Myanmar is looking to capitalise on a recent tourism rebound and stimulate more investment in the sector, following efforts to improve access to credit for smaller operators. On May 6 the first branch of the Myanma Tourism Bank (MTB) opened in Yangon. This is the country’s first bank dedicated to supporting the tourism and hospitality sector. Backed by the Myanmar Tourism Federation, the bank has an initial capitalisation of MMK22bn ($14.5m), with funding provided by the lender’s 26 shareholders, all of which are from the local tourism industry. The MTB is focused on providing low-cost, long-term loans to the sector, particularly to the small- to medium-scale segment, and will offer most of the services provided by commercial banks.

'Zero-dollar tourism' surges in Myanmar South China Morning Post 29th Jul 2019
Tourist arrivals in Myanmar are on the rise despite international condemnation over its military’s systematic campaign of violence against the country's Rohingya Muslim minority. The growing debate over a tourism boycott is vexing tourists, and the Rohingya exodus obviously contributed to a downturn in the arrival of tourists from European and western countries. Hlaing Oo said the arrival of tourists from some European countries such as Germany, Italy, Spain, and Austria showed a slight increase, but acknowledged that tourist arrivals from Asian countries made up to a 90% increase in 2019. "Chinese top the list of Asian visitors," he said.

Bagan to host Mekong Tourism Forum TTR Weekly 24th Jul 2019
Myanmar has switched the 2020 venue for the annual Mekong Tourism Forum from Mandalay to the World Heritage town of Bagan. The decision to change the venue to Bagan was made by Myanmar’s Minister of Hotels and Tourism, U Ohn Maung, following meetings with travel industry leaders and the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office executive director Jens Thraenhart, last week in Nay Pyi Taw. The MTCO head told TTR Weekly various reasons prompted the change, including Bagan’s recent endorsement as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Myanmar's president urges people to promote cultural heritage to world Xinhua 24th Jul 2019
Myanmar President U Win Myint has urged people in the country to strive for promoting Myanmar's cultural heritage to the world and elevate the dignity of the country. Honoring individuals and organizations who worked for ancient city of Bagan to be named as one of the world's cultural heritage sites of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Nay Pyi Taw on Tuesday, U Win Myint also urged for more cultural sites such as Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Mrauk U in Rakhine state and Padah-Lin Cave in Taunggyi, Shan state to be named as Myanmar's world heritage sites. Management for the sustainability of Bagan's ancient heritage, prevention of natural disaster, tourism development plans and social development measures have been adopted together with a management scheme for public participation in line with the law, he said. He expected that other countries could join hands with Myanmar for the preservation of Bagan cultural heritage which will become a legacy of future generations.

Tourism Ministry remains positive as visa restrictions eased Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 10th Jul 2019
With the easing of some visa restrictions to attract more Western tourists to take effect on October 2019, Myanmar expects to receive more visitors this year, a senior official said. Aung Aye Han, deputy director general at the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, said the authorities see a bright outlook for Myanmar's tourism industry thanks to the efforts of key stakeholders. We witnessed a 24 per cent increase in tourist arrivals in the first half of this year. So we hope to receive more in the second half," he said. As of May, Myanmar received 1.84 million visitors, up 24 per cent from the same period of last year. More than 3.55 million visited the nation last year.

Concerns may emerge when Bagan hotels, businesses are forced to move The Myanmar Times 10th Jul 2019
The government and the public have to cooperate to conserve the archaeological site, including removing all hotels to a dedicated hotel zone by 2028, failing which its newfound status will be revoked, said U Arkar Kyaw, Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs and Culture. According to UNESCO rules, the distance between a pagoda and building must be 120 feet and the public cannot dig deeper than six feet underground. “In issuing those rules, UNESCO is looking at how to preserve Bagan and to ensure it does not deteriorate further from its current condition,” U Arkar Kyaw said. Removing the hotels though, could prove to be easier said than done. There are over 300 hotels in Bagan but most of them are small family businesses with only 30 to 50 rooms, according to data from Ministry of Hotels and Tourism.