|Multilateral Trade Agreements
Myanmar, S’pore Ink Investment Promotion and Protection Deal The Irrawaddy 25th Sep 2019
Myanmar inked an agreement with Singapore on Tuesday to promote and protect investment between the two countries, paving the way to boost trade relations. As of February, Singapore is Myanmar’s largest source of foreign investment. The city-state has invested more than US$22 billion (33.6 trillion kyats), nearly 30 percent of total foreign investment in Myanmar, according to August 2019 data from Myanmar’s Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA). The agreement was signed by Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations (MIFER) head U Thaung Tun and Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing in Yangon at the 7th Joint Committee of Myanmar-Singapore Ministerial Meeting.
‘Tip of the iceberg’: finance minister pledges to address illicit trade Frontier Myanmar 17th Oct 2019
THE ANTI-Illicit Trade Forum did not begin like your typical conference or workshop. When Minister for Planning and Finance U Soe Win and Auditor General U Maw Than walked through the doors of the MGallery Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw for the September 19 event organised by EuroCham, they were whisked into a side gallery rather than the VIP seats or the lectern. The minister and other senior government officials were immediately confronted by shelves of beer: more than 100 different products, in a range of colours, shapes and sizes. The beer shared something in common: all of it had been smuggled into Myanmar and was being sold openly in shops and markets.
Myanmar to benefit from ASEAN trade pact: official The Myanmar Times 8th Oct 2019
Myanmar will reap the benefits of a regional trade pact being hammered out by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), according to its secretary-general, Lim Jock Hoi. Lim said that once the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is concluded between ASEAN, Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, the region will experience more growth and development.
State Counsellor addresses 2019 Conference on Implementing Development of Universities Global New Light Of Myanmar 17th Oct 2019
The 2019 Conference on Implementing Development of Universities was held at the Myanmar International Convention Centre II in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday morning. In her speech, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said, “The government is fully and consistently implementing policies and projects that are appropriate with and essential for building a democratic federal union from various sectors. In this regard, it is required to develop outstanding experts and technicians who are the human resources of the country. Development of human resources, including the young generation, is a vital need for the future of the country. They will have to perform state duties in the future. Therefore, the government is striving for harmonious development of basic and higher education, and for promoting the country’s education up to the international level.”
Action alone is not enough in fighting corruption: Shwe Mann Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 17th Oct 2019
Taking action alone is not enough in fighting corruption, Union Betterment Party (UBP) chairman Thura Shwe Mann has commented. He made the remark in his interview conducted by The Daily Eleven over the reports that some government ministers were involved in corruption cases that happened under the National League for Democracy government. "In forming a new government, I would not say I was one of those who chose (government members). But I provided consultation. In connection with corruption cases, they were up to those concerned. The consequences of those cases are not good for individuals, organizations or the country. In fighting corruption, I don't think it will be perfect just taking action. To fight this, there are many other preventive ways," Shwe Mann said.
Japan-Myanmar Vocational Training Institute seeks first batch trainees Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 17th Oct 2019
The Japan - Myanmar Vocational Training Institute, funded by the Japanese government, will now accept the first batch of trainees,, according to the Ministry of Education. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) had signed an agreement with the government in December last year, aiming to establish Japan-Myanmar Aung San Vocational Training Institute.
NLD to replace many 2020 candidates The Myanmar Times 16th Oct 2019
“The current candidates have weaknesses. So, we have plans to replace them – not just half -maybe even beyond that,” Monywa Aung Shin said. He said most of the present candidates do not have the qualifications the party requires, therefore the NLD will select the right people for the right positions. “It is fruitless to argue over the criticisms of our current candidates,” he said. However, due to weaknesses in building party policy in 2015, members of parliament and the cabinet are having difficulties in selecting candidates for the election next year, he added.
Centralised govt stifles economic growth, says senior NLD official The Myanmar Times 11th Oct 2019
“We won’t make significant progress as long as the system is centralised, he told The Myanmar Times in an interview at his office. He said that investments and major economic and infrastructure projects have to pass through the Union government, which is causing undue delays. “An example is the investment in a solar power project,” he said. “It would be much better if the decision could be made at the regional level.” The former political prisoner and medical doctor, who is the party’s second vice chair, said the government would operate more efficiently if it was decentralised.
People's Party to mainly contest regional constituencies in 2020 general election Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 11th Oct 2019
People's Party will mainly compete in constituencies of regions in the 2020 general election while coordination will be sought from ethnic parties to contest constituencies of states, said party general secretary Ye Naing Aung. "Generally, we will put our energy into competing in the regions. We don't say we will not compete in states. We will coordinate with ethnic parties. Based on coordination, we will review," he said. Currently, ethnic parties from Kayin, Chin, Mon, Kachin and Kayah states have sought unity. The United Nationalities Alliance and Nationalities Brotherhood Federation formed with ethnic parties are still operating.
Military Criticizes NLD Govt for Neglecting Myanmar’s Security Council The Irrawaddy 30th Sep 2019
Military spokesperson Major-General Tun Tun Nyi criticized the National League for Democracy (NLD) government Saturday for having not held a single meeting of the National Defense and Security Council (NDSC) since the party took power in 2016. “Will the current government call an NSDC meeting only when a war breaks out?” asked the spokesperson during a military press conference on Saturday. “There must be regular assessments of the current situation, regular discussion, consultation and decision-making.”
Energy minister returns to work amid corruption probe confusion Frontier Myanmar 30th Sep 2019
IT WAS just over a year ago that the Anti-Corruption Commission was praising the minister for electricity and energy for his avowed determination to fight corruption. Minister U Win Khaing and deputy minister Dr Tun Naing were among 250 officials at a seminar held by the MOEE in Nay Pyi Taw on July 18, 2018, to raise awareness about tackling graft. Also at the seminar was ACC member U Han Nyunt.
Myanmar military chief seeks Muslim redemption Asia Times 24th Sep 2019
Myanmar’s internationally reviled military chief, widely accused of commanding “crimes against humanity” and “war crimes” against the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority, has evidently now discovered religious tolerance. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, and several of his deputies made a rare, if not unprecedented, late August visit to a Muslim mosque in the town of Pyinmana, close to the national capital of Naypyitaw. Two weeks later, in what some see as a sort of public relations roadshow, the military chief visited the Joon Mosque in the central city of Mandalay. Then, on September 17, in the commercial capital Yangon, he visited the Muslim Free Hospital, a local clinic established in 1937 that despite its name is actually a multicultural charity. As is customary for religious shrine visits in Myanmar and elsewhere, Min Aung Hlaing made donations of rice, oil, salt, peas and cash to the mosques, offerings that were earmarked as given by himself, his family and his deputies’ families. Less familiar, the military chief also offered up messages of tolerance, inclusion and unity to his Muslim audiences, noting at one stop that all Myanmar citizens are “living in the same land, drinking from the same source and living under the same roof.” But in a country long riven with religious and ethnic tensions, paroxysms of violence and institutionalized systems of discrimination that favor the Bamar Buddhist majority over minorities, the military leader’s mosque visits were in some sense groundbreaking. Min Aung Hlaing’s goodwill tour has not been confined to Muslim communities, but has also involved visits and donations to Hindu, Christian and Buddhist sites. In all the high-profile visits, the public messaging has been overt and the offerings optics-driven.
Myanmar enacts new copyright law to replace Myanmar Copyright Act 1914 The Business Times 5th Aug 2019
On 24 May 2019, the Copyright Law (Law) was enacted as the fourth and last intellectual property law to protect literary and artistic works. Replacing the law that was enacted in 1914, the new Law now includes updated definitions of performance, broadcasting, and includes computer programs as a work of writing. The Law specifies that “foreign works” which are created by authors who are not Myanmar citizens nor residents are protected only if they are first published in Myanmar or published in Myanmar within 30 days after their publication abroad.
Reform group demands end of military role in human rights panel The Myanmar Times 5th Aug 2019
A working group reforming the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHCR) has demanded that the defence and security services have no role in the commission. Mg Saung Kha, executive director of Athan, an organisation supporting freedom of expression, said that one of the members of the selection board reforming the MNHRC is the military-appointed minister of Home Affairs, which is a problem because many reported human rights violations are committed by the Tatmadaw (military). “Article 5b must be amended so that the selection board does not include military members. The members should not be those who are accused of committing, condoning or being responsible for human rights violations,” he said.
Expect closer ASEAN integration on trade by year end: official The Myanmar Times 2nd Aug 2019
Defense & Security
The ASW’s objective is to expedite cargo clearance and promote ASEAN economic integration by enabling the electronic exchange of border documents among ASEAN member states. During the 3rd ASEAN Media Forum in Bangkok on Monday, Lim Jock Hoi, secretary general of ASEAN, said the regional body is looking forward to implementing the project and has been working closely with businesses and other stakeholders in the ASEAN region to make sure that the initiative is on track.
Myanmar Military Abandons Truce, Citing EAOs’ Lack of Interest in Peace The Irrawaddy 23rd Sep 2019
The Myanmar military has not extended its self-imposed truce in Kachin and Shan states, saying the ethnic armed groups in the region, particularly the three active groups against whom it has been involved in increasingly intense clashes in recent months, do not seem to be interested in signing the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).
Myanmar Military Eyes More Powers for National Security Council The Irrawaddy 20th Sep 2019
Myanmar’s military and the former ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) have jointly proposed giving broader powers to the military-dominated National Defense and Security Council (NDSC), including the power to call for the dissolution of Parliament.
Interview: No End in Sight to Myanmar Military, Northern Alliance Fighting The Irrawaddy 7th Sep 2019
The ongoing clashes have become more and more worrying. Clashes have escalated since the Northern Alliance launched military operations on Aug. 15, and civilians have been hit. U Than Soe Naing, what is your view on it? Than Soe Naing: It is quite surprising that this has happened. The Tatmadaw had declared a ceasefire there for eight months, and it was desperately trying to hold peace talks. Clashes took place under such circumstances.
Myanmar: Civilians Caught in Shan State Fighting Human Rights Watch 7th Sep 2019
Myanmar’s armed forces and the three ethnic armed groups fighting in northern Shan State should safeguard civilians, Human Rights Watch said today. Renewed fighting since August 15, 2019 has resulted in the deaths of at least 17 civilians and injured 27, many of them women and children, according to the United Nations.
Myanmar navy included in US-ASEAN maritime exercises despite sanctions The Defense Post 28th Aug 2019
Myanmar’s navy will join maritime drills with the U.S. in Southeast Asia next week, a spokesperson said Wednesday, August 28, in a rare show of military cooperation despite Washington slapping sanctions on top army brass over the Rohingya crisis.
Lawmakers press to keep Myanmar sanctions in defense bill Roll Call 26th Aug 2019
Top lawmakers are using Sunday’s anniversary of the forced migration of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar to encourage defense negotiators to keep new sanctions in the annual defense policy bill.
Clearer picture Bangkok Post 30th Sep 2019
Businesses in Myanmar hail moves to improve investment transparency, but question whether they will work in practice. The Myanmar government has begun a major overhaul of its procurement and contract procedures in an effort to strengthen the transparency and competitiveness of major development projects. The changes will revolutionise the way infrastructure programmes are selected, planned and funded, say their supporters. They will not only cover government-funded projects, but will also include private initiatives, joint ventures and public-private partnerships.
Growing Myanmar’s gig economy The Myanmar Times 2nd Aug 2019
Across Asia, contract and freelance positions in firms from start-ups to large conglomerates are becoming more commonplace. While still novel in Myanmar, the so-called “gig” economy is expanding as companies turn more cautious when hiring. Meanwhile, workers are opting for the freedom to maintain a better work-life balance or opportunity to earn from diversified sources of income. A 2019 global Deloitte survey of over 13,000 millennials found almost half of respondents believe gig workers earn as much as those in full-time jobs and the same number think gig workers have a better work-life balance. In Asia Pacific, eight in 10 talent managers hire or use gig workers, according to a 2018 report from KellyOCG.
Thai, Burmese Companies Begin Controversial Mong Kok Coal Mining Project Burma News International 17th Oct 2019
Thai and Burmese companies have begun exploratory digging in preparation to jointly operate a coal mine in the Mong Kok area of eastern Shan State’s Mong Hsat Township. Sahakol Equipment, a Thai mining contractor, and Golden Lake Co., Ltd, of Burma, signed a memorandum of understanding in July to run the mine together. Heavy equipment has already been sent to the mining site, locals said.
Offshore Myanmar Platform FEED Goes to Doris, Hyundai Rigzone 16th Oct 2019
South Korea-based POSCO International has awarded DORIS Engineering and Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) the front-end engineering design (FEED) contract for the Shwe Project Phase 3 development offshore Myanmar, DORIS reported Wednesday.
Hsipaw Locals Stop Dam Company From Entering Village Burma News International 15th Oct 2019
Locals in northern Shan State’s Hsipaw Township say that they are ready to stand against a planned hydropower dam on the Nam Ma River because of its potential impact on their livelihoods and environment. The Yangon-based Unienergy Co. Ltd. plans to build a dam at the junction of the Nam Ma and Nam Paung rivers near Hseng Liang village in Hsipaw Township. Company representatives went to the area on October 10 to discuss the highly contested project with villagers, who blocked them from entering their village and in turn protested the dam. “If they build a hydropower dam, orange farms and many trees which are nearby the river will be gone underwater,” Sai Thein Myint, who lives in the Nam Ma area, told NMG. “Many local people who are living on the banks of Nam Ma River will have to relocate their homes. I am sure these houses will be underwater after the completion of the dam construction.”
Myanmar’s draft oil and gas bill jeopardises next bidding round The Myanmar Times 14th Oct 2019
Time is running out for the Ministry of Electricity and Energy to launch the round by the end of the year, having initially planned to start the process in the first half of 2019. The government published the revised text of the draft oil and gas law for public consultation in August with the aim of reforming the legal framework and replacing the 1957 petroleum resources act. But the association representing oil and gas investors has highlighted its objections to parliament in a letter, of which The Myanmar Times has seen extracts.
Spending on electricity tops budget for the first time The Myanmar Times 10th Oct 2019
The government is expected to spend a total of K35.2 trillion between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020, registering a wider deficit of K6.7 trillion, or 5.7 percent of GDP, for the period. “The budget deficit is expected to widen as government spending will increase this year,” said Daw Thida Tun, director general at the Budget Department under the Ministry of Planning and Finance (MOPF). “A higher proportion of the Budget has been allocated to the energy and electricity sector for the benefit of the public” she added. Parliament approved funds of over K8 trillion for the Ministry of Electricity and Energy (MOEE) in fiscal 2019-20, which is up by more than 28pc compared to the K6.2 trillion received by the ministry in the previous fiscal year.
Constructing product pipeline between India and Myanmar to transport petroleum: Assam industry minister The Economic Times 5th Oct 2019
Assam industry minister Chandra Mohan Patwary said that a product pipeline will be constructed between India and Myanmar to transport petroleum product from Northeast India to Myanmar. IIM Kolkata will assist Assam government in obtaining geographical indication for Assam tea. Patwary said capacity of two refineries Numaligarh Refinery and Bongaigaon RefineryNSE 0.00 % is augmented following which Indian export petroleum products will be exported to Myanmar. “The work for Barauni in Bihar to Guwahati in Assam pipeline has started by GAIL India Limited. The project will require over Rs 6,000 crore investment.”
Electricity price hike fuels demand for solar power in Myanmar Frontier Myanmar 27th Sep 2019
The government had just announced a big electricity price increase from July 1, and businesses and households were nervously trying to calculate how much their bills would jump. But for Seth, the CEO of Mandalay Yoma Solar Energy, the price rise made his company’s rooftop solar systems much more financially attractive. And he wanted people to know about it.
Nuclear company under fire for dam project in Burma The Ferret 3rd Sep 2019
EDF Group is one of 38 firms named by human rights group, Burma Campaign UK, for business contracts in Burma, also known as Myanmar. The firms are said to be linked to internal conflict and a Burmese military accused of genocide.
Civil society groups urge halt to dam plans for Tanintharyi River Frontier Myanmar 9th Aug 2019
Plans to build dams on the Tanintharyi River would affect about 32,000 people in communities that have never been adequately consulted, according to a report by three Karen civil society groups that calls for a halt to the projects. The report says there are 18 memorandums of understanding to build dams on the river, but “local communities have received no information on their location, size or status”. It calls on the Tanintharyi regional government to provide full information to affected communities and civil society about the planned dams, which it says could also have a catastrophic impact on aquatic ecosystems and vast pristine forests, and pose a threat to the peace process.
Lower tax rates, higher liquidity expected to boost property market The Myanmar Times 16th Oct 2019
One reason demand will rise is as a result of a reduction in tax rates on previously undeclared income, which is expected to encourage those who have not declared all their income in the past to do so. This should bring liquidity back into the formal economy, leading to opportunities for investors to channel their money into real estate at a time when supply in Yangon and other major cities in Myanmar has spiked with more completed units now on the market. It will also encourage existing home owners who had purchased properties under different names in the past to officially correct or update any ownership details for future tax purposes.
Yangon’s ‘new city’ to begin land compensation process The Myanmar Times 11th Oct 2019
According to the previous agreement, landowners will retain 80 percent of the original land located within the project area with the remaining 20pc being compensated in Kyeemyindaing township. Phase 1 of that project covered 18,390 acres of farmlands and the government returned 1514 acres of developed land to 187 farmers within Kyeemyindaing township. “Resettlement procedure took many months as it needs step by step cooperation of various departments,” said New Yangon Development Company’s CEO Serge Pun. The lot drawing for the compensation land in Kyeemyindaing township began in early September. Temporary land transfer orders and land permits have been issued on October 8.
Myanmar looks to legalize its informal economy | Article Asia Times 9th Oct 2019
Myanmar aims to mobilize funds hidden in its vast informal economy through a tax amnesty, a controversial bid to galvanize new investment and business activity in the nation’s stalling economy. The “reduced tax rates for undeclared income” scheme, part of the recently approved Union Tax Law, entered into force this month, slashing prevailing 15-30% tax rates to as low as 3%. Under the amnesty, an individual with undisclosed income of up to 100 million kyat (US$66,000) will be taxed just 3%. The rate climbs to 5% for between 100 million and 300 million kyat ($200,000) in undeclared earnings, 10% for between 300 million and 3 billion kyat ($2 million), and 30% for any income above 3 billion kyat.
Myanmar: Govt aims to exempt insurance sector from competition law Asia Insurance Review 30th Sep 2019
The Myanmar government is seeking through legislation to exclude the insurance sector from the competition law, in a move seen as protecting the state-owned insurer Myanma Insurance. The protection will be provided through the Insurance Business Law, a draft of which was seen by The Myanmar Times. This proposed law reads, “The Competition Law shall not apply to insurance products and rates approved by IBRB [Insurance Business Regulatory Board].”
Myanmar banks feel the heat Bangkok Post 23rd Sep 2019
Food & Agriculture
The fragile state of Myanmar's banking industry remains a problem for the government as it strives to liberalise the financial sector and create a genuine market-based economy. A mini-run on local banks earlier this month underscored how shaky public confidence is. The trouble began with a comment to parliament by a deputy governor of the Central Bank of Myanmar, who said businesses should settle their outstanding loans or the central bank would be forced to take regulatory action. Some depositors started to withdraw funds, and speculators jumped into the fray. That caused the local currency to fall dramatically against the US dollar and sent local gold prices soaring.
Myanmar Govt Backs Minimum Price for Rice Amid Weak Market The Irrawaddy 16th Oct 2019
The Myanmar government has fixed the minimum price for rice at 500,000 kyats for 100 baskets of paddy (US$327.30 for about 2.09 tons) in a bid to establish a fair market and fair prices for paddy farmers.
Myanmar coffee producers seek to expand export markets The Myanmar Times 9th Oct 2019
Over the past five years, US-funded agriculture programs have helped some 40,000 farmers improve production levels and establish new export markets for local produce, US Ambassador Scot Marciel said. Moving forward, strong producer and exporter associations such as Myanmar Coffee Association, Myanmar Fruit, Flower and Vegetable Producers and Exporters Association and the Sesame Farmer Development Association will carry on the work of helping farmers sustain production levels and penetrate new markets. However, the US will still continue to invest over $17 million each year as part of its government’s Feed the Future Initiative. With Myanmar agriculture products such as coffee now available in the US, coffee exporters are now focusing on expanding to other markets such as Europe as well as Canada, Japan and Korea, U Myo Aye, chair of Myanmar Coffee Association at the Myanmar Coffee Fair 2019 held in Mandalay this week.
Myanmar Drafts Law for Development of Animal Husbandry and Pisciculture Myanmar Business Today 16th Oct 2019
Myanmar is now drafting a law to improve the quality of animal husbandry and pisciculture in Myanmar in order to meet international standards. The law will cover various aspects of animal husbandry such as developing a plan for the deterrence of infectious diseases like swine flue, providing land for commercial livestock breeders, and creating pasturage.
Broad Coalition to Ramp Up Food Safety in Myanmar The Irrawaddy 11th Sep 2019
YANGON—Myanmar’s food safety advocacy groups plan to bring around 400 stakeholders from the food industry together to discuss food safety issues and challenges in the country. Myanmar Innovative Life Sciences (MILS), Myanmar Consumers Union and Food Science and Technology Association (FoSTA Myanmar) told the media at a press conference on Wednesday that they will organize a Food Safety Forum on Sept. 28 at Yangon University. The forum will bring together producers from the agriculture, livestock, fishing, dairy, bakery, water, beverage and fast food industries as well as government officials, experts and parliamentarians, according to organizers.
Workers Protest Lack of Fishing Rights in Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Region The Irrawaddy 10th Sep 2019
PATHEIN, Irrawaddy Region—Fishery workers in Kyonepyaw and Lemyethna townships in Irrawaddy Region staged a protest against the regional agriculture minister on Monday in Pathein, the regional capital, over what they claim is an unfair distribution of fishing rights. In a longstanding practice that dates back to the colonial period, the rights to fish in lakes in Myanmar are auctioned off by the government to private businessmen on a yearly basis. Wealthy fishery owners have long monopolized the fishing lakes, with poor laborers generally working for a daily wage. But in recent years, fishery workers have formed cooperatives and started bidding for rights. This has been widely supported by local communities, as the increased income helps to improve living standards.
Lawmaker to Propose Bill Legalizing Hemp Cultivation in Myanmar The Irrawaddy 3rd Sep 2019
A lawmaker will submit to the Lower House of Myanmar’s national legislature a proposal to amend the country’s antinarcotics law to allow the legal cultivation of hemp, which is treated as marijuana under existing laws. “I believe I will be able to submit [the proposed amendment] to the bill committee before the current parliamentary session ends. And I will be able to submit the bill when the next parliamentary session starts,” said National League for Democracy lawmaker U Yan Lin, who is also the chairman of the Lower House Agriculture, Livestock and Rural Development Committee.
African Swine Suspected in Eastern Myanmar The Irrawaddy 7th Aug 2019
Health & Life Sciences
More than 2,000 pigs have been culled in Mong La Special Region 4’s Silu and Maing Ma regions in the eastern Shan State of Myanmar as of Wednesday, after nearly 500 pigs died from what is suspected to be the African swine fever earlier this month. “We are currently doing contagious pig disease control in the region,” said U Kyi Myint, secretary of the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA). He told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that this year’s incident is the largest they’ve seen. Previous incidences reportedly saw between 400 and 500 pigs die, at which point pigs were culled and buried to prevent the disease’s further spread.
Ministry hands out vitamins to pregnant women The Myanmar Times 10th Oct 2019
“We are distributing 240,000 bottles of prenatal vitamins to all regions and states. Each pregnant woman will be given a bottle, which contains 180 capsules, and they have to take them for six months,” he said on Wednesday on the sidelines of a national meeting on nutrition promotion. When they (pregnant women) come to rural health departments or township hospitals for pregnancy checkups, we will give them prenatal vitamins,” he added. The vitamins, which were donated by a foreign organisation, will be distributed to about 1 million pregnant women across the country in the next six months. This is part of a five-year national nutrition plan being implemented by the government with the help of international aid agencies.
Health program to improve youth wellbeing in six Yangon townships The Myanmar Times 8th Oct 2019
Plan International Myanmar and AstraZeneca will work closely with key stakeholders to educate young people on the risk factors associated with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, diabetes, heart and respiratory disease. “NCD has always been a problem throughout the globe, and a growing problem in Asia and Myanmar. Risk factors for NCDs include tobacco, alcohol, diet, physical inactivity and the environment,” said Dr. Kyaw Kan Kaung, Director of Non-Communicable Disease Control Unit from the Department of Public Health. The project was started on January 2019 and continues to December 2021.
A green solution to a plastic problem The Myanmar Times 2nd Aug 2019
A new natural product made by environmental products provider Zero Plastic Myanmar will soon be introduced on the market, said Ko Kyaw Kyaw Htike, founder of Zero Plastic Myanmar. The new product is a simple carrying handle for takeaway cups made from the by-product of jute production that will do away with the need for plastic bags. “Jute is an incredible plant fibre that is used to make twine, rope, matting, and sacks, among other things. However, during the production of jute products, just two layers of the plant are used while the third is discarded. We are using the discarded fibre to make the takeaway handles,” Ko Kyaw Kyaw Htike said.
Thai Life insurance company enters Myanmar Mizzima Myanmar News and Insight 27th Aug 2019
Thai Life Insurance has struck a deal to take a 35% stake in Citizen Business Insurance (CB Insurance), becoming the first Asean insurer to enter Myanmar's insurance field, according to the Bangkok Post. Penetrating Myanmar's insurance market aligns with the company's strategy to expand operations to other countries in ASEAN, Chai Chaiyawan, president of Thai Life Insurance said in a statement. This partnership will give CB Insurance a competitive advantage by leveraging Thai Life's actuarial and managerial expertise, as well as product distribution channel development, which has proven to be successful in Thailand, Chai Chaiyawan noted.
MPT cleared to launch mobile finance offering in Myanmar Developing Telecoms 17th Oct 2019
Myanmar’s state-run operator MPT has been granted a mobile financial services licence by the country’s central bank after a lengthy approval process. The market leading operator first announced its planned MPT Money service in March 2018, and has been awaiting the green light ever since. The service is aimed at accelerating Myanmar’s digital economy by fostering greater financial inclusion. MPT’s managing director U Khin Maung Tun said that the service would be launching very soon, providing secure and quick access to banking services supported by a nationwide network of financial agents.
Tech Could Help Myanmar Smash Sex Taboos as Rapes Rise The Irrawaddy 17th Oct 2019
Technology could help Myanmar fight a rise in rape cases, said an award-winning entrepreneur who is using augmented reality (AR) to bring sex education to the socially conservative country. The rape in May of a 3-year-old girl at a private nursery in Naypyitaw has sparked outrage, prompting thousands to take to the streets to demand justice and highlighting a paucity of sex education in the country. It came as the overall number of rape cases in Myanmar surged from 1,100 cases in 2016 to more than 1,500 in 2018, nearly two-thirds involving a child, according to local media quoting government data.
Myanmar's great tech switch is chance to become part of world's web Nikkei Asian Review 15th Oct 2019
On October 1, Myanmar's State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi officially launched one of the biggest technological changes in the country's history: its computers and websites would start using Unicode, a kind of universal script containing characters from most of the world's written languages.
Myanmar launches Unicode standard to expedite e-government plan Global New Light Of Myanmar 1st Oct 2019
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, patron of the e-Government Steering Committee, delivered an address at the official launching ceremony of Myanmar Unicode migration yesterday morning. First, the Project K Group sang the Myanmar Unicode theme song after which the Myanmar Unicode migration process video was screened. The inauguration of Myanmar Unicode migration took place with the slogan of ‘Let’s Migrate All Together to Myanmar Unicode Standard System’ which were written on the screens of tablets for the individual words ‘Myanmar’ by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, ‘Unicode’ by Union Minister for Transport and Communications U Thant Sin Maung, ‘Standard System’ by Member of National Standard Council Member and Deputy Minister for Education U Win Maw Tun, ‘All’ by Union Minister for Union Government Office U Min Thu, ‘All Together’ by Member of Myanmar Language Commission Dr Myint Kyi, ‘Migration’ by Myanmar Computer Federation Chairman U Min Zeyar Hlaing, and ‘Let’s’ by Patron of Myanmar Computer Federation U Thein Oo. in Myanmar language on LED board.
Myanmar’s Second Biggest City Receives Smart City Award 2019 The Irrawaddy 29th Aug 2019
In the midst of a high-tech makeover to become a genuine smart city, Myanmar’s historic royal capital Mandalay—more than 160 years old—received the Smart City Award 2019 at a Bangkok summit attended by 24 countries including Japan, India, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. “We have been effectively changing municipal services by using technology, and these changes have progressed rapidly in a short period of time. This is the main reason we received the award,” U Ye Myat Thu, Mandalay’s smart city officer and Mandalay City Development Committee (MCDC) member, told The Irrawaddy.
Beware Myanmar’s New Information War The Diplomat 8th Aug 2019
An internet blackout imposed by Myanmar’s government in parts of conflict-ridden Rakhine and Chin states has now been in place for nearly two months. It’s raising deep concerns about the safety of civilians in a region where researchers have already documented gross human rights violations by the military. The measure also harks back to the tight control of information under junta rule and is the latest in a long line of attacks on free speech. It’s “a matter of great concern to our organizations as it should be to all of the millions of internet users in Myanmar,” said Yangon-based campaign group Free Expression Myanmar of the shutdown that took effect on June 21.
Group wants to teach public how to stay safe online The Myanmar Times 8th Oct 2019
U Mike Phone Myint, secretary of the Myanmar Information Security Association, said the campaign was launched in Yangon last week to teach people how to safely use e-commerce, such as online payments and shopping, among others. Under the theme, Stop, Think, Connect, Myanmar will be the first country to hold the campaign in Southeast Asia with the aim of becoming the first Cyber-Readiness Institute Champion.
Change to Unicode expected to boost e-government plan The Myanmar Times 3rd Oct 2019
“The reason for the delays is that the online application system is weak and people lack skills and knowledge. This has delayed the transition to Unicode by the entire nation,” she said at a ceremony to launch Myanmar’s migration to Unicode in Nay Pyi Taw on Tuesday. The transition to Unicode, an international encoding standard for use with different languages and scripts, is an important part of the E-Government Master Plan. Myanmar was ranked 157th in the e-government development index in 2018, a 12-point increase from 169th in 2016.
Govt to focus on supporting growth of digital economy, telecoms infrastructure The Myanmar Times 19th Sep 2019
Deputy Director General of Posts and Telecommunications U Than Thun Aung said this in his speech during the Myanmar Connect 2019 Conference on Tuesday. U Than Thun Aung said regulatory areas that will be the focus next year to support digital economy include regulation balancing, customer stratification, consumer protection, cyber security, support for the digital economy, regional integration, and social media and spam.
Armed with smartphones, Myanmar e-sports players battle power outages Borneo Bulletin Online 1st Sep 2019
Myanmar’s video gaming scene is mushrooming, but frequent power cuts are holding players back in the emerging democracy. More than 60 per cent of people in Myanmar still live without reliable electricity after a political transition in 2010 that sought to pull in foreign investment after decades of junta rule. Mobile penetration stood at just seven per cent in 2012, but demand has skyrocketed and the figure now sits at more than 80 per cent. Players competing on mobiles can stay logged on when local grids go dark.
Loikaw Invites Tender Applications for Video Surveillance System Myanmar Business Today 12th Aug 2019
As part of Kayah States ambitious plan to transform Loikaw into a smart city, the state government is now inviting local tech firms to submit tender applications to implement a CCTV surveillance system in the State Capital. The state government refers the initiative as ‘AI Video Surveillance System’ and will implement the system it in three phases.
In Myanmar, 5G in Yangon, 7-week web blackout in restive Rakhine South China Morning Post 10th Aug 2019
Myanmar ’s military-backed telecoms firm Mytel this week revealed the country had carried out its first successful test of 5G services in Yangon – but elsewhere in the nation an estimated 1 million people were entering their seventh consecutive week without the internet. Residents of nine townships across western Rakhine and Chin states have been without web access since June 21.
Military-Backed Mytel Announces Successful Test of 5G Service The Irrawaddy 5th Aug 2019
Mytel, the telecom venture between the Myanmar and Vietnamese militaries, and the fourth telecom operator to be established in the country, has tested Myanmar’s first 5G service using technology developed by China’s Huawei. According to Mytel, Huawei’s 5G NR technology will provide significantly increased capacity, lower latency (or delays in sending data) and faster download and upload speeds to its 15 million users across Myanmar in the near future.
Royal capital to 'smart city': Myanmar's Mandalay gets high-tech makeover, sparks 'spy' fears | Malay Mail Malay Mail 4th Aug 2019
Once a seat of kings, the city of Mandalay in northern Myanmar has seen turbulent chapters in its 162-year history — the fall of Burma's last royal dynasty and decades of colonial rule. Now, officials are attempting to transform the former royal capital into Myanmar's first “smart city.” In a country where officials still largely labour with pen and ink, surrounded by stacks of mouldering papers, authorities in Mandalay are tapping social media and new technologies such as artificial intelligence software and drones to revamp a lethargic bureaucracy.
Construction of four-lane road to Thilawa will complete in December Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 17th Oct 2019
With the aim to be secure transportation access to the Thilawa Special Economic Zone from Yangon, the construction of four-lane road linking from Thanlyin Bridge to Thilawa will be completed in December, according to JICA Myanmar Office. The JICA Myanmar Office also said that No.3 Thanlyin Bridge (Bago River Crossing Bridge) was being constructed. Those constructions are being funded with the loan from the Japanese Government.
Mandalay to spend K5.3b to prevent riverbank erosion in major rivers The Myanmar Times 17th Oct 2019
The measures to prevent riverbank erosion will be carried out in 20 villages along the Ayeyarwady River, Panlaung River, Chaung Ma Gyi Creek and Dokhtawady River, which flow across eight townships in the region, U Toe Aung, the department’s director, said. He added that preliminary work is being done in preparation for the project. “The current in the rivers changes a lot. Areas where we did surveys last year have changed due to this year’s floods. So we are conducting surveys now and will draw up prevention designs depending on potential findings,” he told The Myanmar Times.
Gov’t to Build Bridge over Pun River in Hpasoung Township Burma News International 17th Oct 2019
Burma’s Union government says it plans to build a bridge over the Pun River in Karenni (Kayah) State’s Hpasoung Township during the next fiscal year. The subject of the bridge, which has been under discussion for some time, was raised by Nang Htwe Thu, the MP for Hpasoung Township, during a session of the lower house of parliament in Naypyidaw last week. “This bridge will benefit local people in the area. It will protect ethnic minority people, improve living standards and provide better transportation,” Nang Htwe Thu told Kantarawaddy Times after raising the issue in parliament on September 18.
Mandalay-Muse rail project delayed due to unrest in project area Mizzima 12th Oct 2019
Ministry of Transport (Upper Myanmar) Deputy General Manager and Joint Feasibility Committee for Mandalay-Muse electric locomotive rail project secretary (1) Htay Hlaing told Mizzima that their work for an environment impact assessment was delayed by unrest and instability in the Muse-Hseni-Kutkai area. “We have to consult with Environment Conservation Department for completion of this assessment work as the project area has disturbances and conflicts,” Htay Hlaing said. For this project, survey and soil test work have been done in the period from 31 December 2018 to 10 May 2019 and currently Ever Green Tech Environmental services and Training Co. Ltd. are conducting environment impact assessment work.
Deal to Be Signed for BRI-Related Economic Zone in Myanmar's Kachin State The Irrawaddy 7th Oct 2019
The Kachin State government is planning to sign an agreement next month on the establishment of a China-backed economic zone, paving the way for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project. Under the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) agreement, which is also a part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s grand BRI vision, Kachin State signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Yunnan Tengchong Heng Yong Investment Company (YTHIC) in May 2018 for implementation of the Myitkyina Economic Development Zone.
Picking up speed on Yangon’s Circular Railway Frontier Myanmar 30th Sep 2019
A RIDE on Yangon’s Circular Railway offers a fascinating if bumpy tour around the commercial capital in the company of passengers from all walks of life, including commuters, vendors and beggars. The 46-kilometre line, with 38 stops, also provides a glimpse of the daily lives of the city’s residents during a round-trip that passes through satellite towns and suburbs, some very poor, that takes about three hours. The round-trip fare for Myanmar is K100 and foreigners pay K300. The Circular Railway began operating in 1954. For most of its 65 years, improvements to service have been slow. U Zaw Lwin, the traffic manager of the Circular Railway, told Frontier that 13 of the 21 trains on the route are more than 50 years old. The few improvements to carriages include the replacement of old, broken wooden seats with those made of fibreglass.
Myanmar to use US$1 billion loan for infrastructure projects The Myanmar Times 9th Sep 2019
On September 3, Union Minister for Investment and Foreign Economic Relations U Thaung Tun and South Korea’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Ms Kang Kyung-wha signed the framework agreement under which South Korea will provide US$1 billion to Myanmar for an economic development cooperation fund (EDCF) during a visit by South Korean President Moon Jae to Myanmar.
Myanmar to start Yangon sky train project in 2020 Xinhua 5th Aug 2019
Myanmar planned to implement a sky train project in the commercial city of Yangon starting 2020, according to the Ministry of Transport and Communications Monday. The over 1-billion-U.S. dollar project, which includes 13 stations, is expected to be completed by 2027. The project, which is also called the Yangon Urban Mass Rapid Transit, will connect the eastern and western parts of Yangon. The 18-km sky train project will start from Hlaingthaya township Station, run along the Yangon-Pathein road, cross over Hlaing River in the south of Bayinnaung Bridge and then run from Okkyin Station along the Parami Road before reaching Tokyaung Kalay Station.
Myanmar, Thailand accelerate plans to link, electrify Dawei SEZ The Myanmar Times 7th Oct 2019
Basic infrastructure such as roads connecting the SEZ to Thailand and necessities like electricity will be prioritised and carried out simultaneously with as little delay in between as possible, said U Tun Naing, Deputy Minister for Ministry of Electricity and Energy and chair of the Dawei Special Economic Zone Management Committee.
Renewed conflict in Myanmar slows China's Belt and Road projects Nikkei Asian Review 6th Oct 2019
A recent decision by the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, not to extend a cease-fire aimed at ethnic armed organizations excluded from a nationwide peace agreement puts the country's Belt and Road projects in further limbo.
Five-year plan for BRI projects in Myanmar The Myanmar Times 27th Sep 2019
Negotiations to draw up the plan were held in Nay Pyi Taw on Monday, the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations announced.
Myanmar to upgrade grid with S.Korea loan Power Transformer News 10th Sep 2019
Myanmar has announced it is to spend around $130 million in loans from South Korea to improve its national grid.
MR suspends rail services in Ygn-Mawlamyaing-Yay-Dawei railroad Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 13th Aug 2019
Myanma Railways (MR) suspended its services in Yangon-Mawlamyaing-Yay-Dawei railroad due to heavy rain and damaged rail tracks, sources said. Rail services in Yangon-Bagan railroad cannot reach its destination as a bridge on the railroad was damaged on August 10 and travellers can only go to Kyaukpadaung from Yangon. Moreover, the rain was heavy and caused damages in Yangon-Mawlamyaing-Yay-Dawei railroad and the MR suspended rail services on the railroad from August 9.
Analysis | Megaprojects a Double-Edged Sword for Myanmar The Irrawaddy 9th Aug 2019
Currently, Beijing seeks to extend mega-infrastructure projects into Myanmar under the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), part of its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The 1,700-km CMEC runs from Kunming to Mandalay, then east to Yangon and west to the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in western Rakhine State. Within Japan’s grand plan, Myanmar sits on two major economic corridors: the East-West Economic Corridor connecting Vietnam’s Dong Ha City with Yangon’s Thilawa SEZ via Cambodia and Thailand, and the Southern Economic Corridor connecting central Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand to the Dawei SEZ in southeastern Myanmar.
Automobiles to roll off new assembly line in Mandalay The Myanmar Times 2nd Aug 2019
Travel & Tourism
Myanmar has been importing car parts and assembling them for years, but now Chinese cars will be produced here for the first time, at Myotha industrial zone in Ngazun township, Mandalay Region. Shining Star Group of Kunming, China, established Gold AYA Motor International Co Ltd to make automobiles in Myanmar in 2017. The plant on more than 20 acres of land in Myotha industrial zone will manufacture high quality vehicles to be sold at reasonable prices, according to the company, with the ultimate goal of labelling them “made in Myanmar.”
Myanmar, Nepal sign MoUs on culture, tourism Xinhua 17th Oct 2019
Myanmar and Nepal signed two memorandums of understanding (MoU) Thursday on cooperation in culture and tourism. The MoUs were signed at the Presidential Palace in Nay Pyi Taw by Myanmar Minister of Religious Affairs and Culture U Aung Ko and Minister of International Cooperation U Kyaw Tin respectively with Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali in the presence of Myanmar's State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari.
Myanmar offers visas-on-arrival to six new countries Breaking Travel News 17th Oct 2019
The Myanmar government has introduced new regulations to facilitate easier access for tourists. Tourists from six countries - Australia, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and Switzerland - can now enter Myanmar with a visa-on-arrival at Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw airports. Passport holders of those do not need pre-approval to travel, and can apply for a visa when they arrive, which will be granted instantly. The fee for the visa on arrival is US$50.
Moving into the Myanmar market Bangkok Post 23rd Sep 2019
Centara Hotels and Resorts has joined forces with KMA Group in a bid to expand into Myanmar's growing tourism market. Centara yesterday signed a 10-year agreement with KMA, one of Myanmar's largest conglomerates, to operate Centara KMA Resort Inle Lake. Centara Hotels and Resorts has 75 hotel properties and aims to operate 134 in total under its five-year strategic plan.
‘Provide packages to promote Myanmar as tourist destination’ The New Indian Express 11th Oct 2019
Though India, particularly Tamil Nadu, shares a similar heritage and culture with Myanmar, tourists from here are very low due to lack of proper air connectivity, said Moe Kyaw Aung, Myanmar Ambassador to India, on Thursday. Speaking at the Indo-Myanmar meeting on Tourism-2019, organised by Tamil Nadu Tour Travel and Hospitality Association (TTTHA) here on Thursday, Moe Kyaw Aung said, “There are no many direct flights from India, especially from Chennai. This is one of the big hurdles for promoting Myanmar tourism among Indians”. “I encourage tour operators from here to provide good packages to these tourists to promote Myanmar tourism. Though, India shares similar culture and heritage with Myanmar, in terms of tourist arrival in Myanmar, India stands 10th place,” he said.
Public Video Contest Aims to Boost Myanmar Tourism The Irrawaddy 10th Oct 2019
In the past two years, the number of tourists visiting Myanmar has dropped, so CCI France Myanmar, the French chamber of commerce, has formed a partnership with the Myanmar Tourism Marketing Association to launch the #CometoMyanmar video contest to promote the country as a tourist destination. The competition is only open to Myanmar nationals and participants have to shoot a three-minute video showing what makes Myanmar attractive. The selected videos will be used overseas to promote Myanmar as a tourist destination.
Myanmar extends visa-on-arrival access to six more countries Business Traveller 8th Oct 2019
Visitors from Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Russia can now enter Myanmar with a visa on arrival. According to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism of Myanmar, holders of ordinary passports issued from the six countries mentioned above arriving at Yangon International Airport, Mandalay International Airport or Nay Pyi Taw International Airport can apply for a visa on arrival for tourism purposes for “one year probation period” starting from October 1 this year. The fee for the visa on arrival, grated for tourism purposes only, is US$50. The duration of stay in Myanmar is 30 days.
Nationals of six more countries granted visa-on-arrival into Myanmar The Nation Thailand 5th Oct 2019
The Myanmar government has introduced new regulations to facilitate easier access for foreign tourists as another step towards opening up the country to the world . Started from October 1, tourists from six countries (Australia, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and Switzerland) can enter Myanmar on visa-on-arrival (VOA) at Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw International Airports.
Myanmar recruits actor to push tourism TTR Weekly 24th Sep 2019
Myanmar’s popular actor and model, Paing Takhon, will act as a tourism ambassador to boost travel from Thailand to Myanmar. The appointment lasts one year, effective from 21 September, when the Myanmar Tourism Marketing Association together with the Myanmar Tourism Federation, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the actor. He will front promotions that capitalise on his popularity in Thailand where he is rapidly gaining popularity with a teenage fan base boosted by Thai Television channels and magazines.