By THE NATION
The seminar brought together experts and top Myanmar state officials to provide new perspectives and in-depth information related to the potential in economics, emerging business opportunities, as well as new economic development plans to create more confidence for investors.
Thai Ambassador to Myanmar Suphatra Srimaitreephithak said this seminar has been organised for the fourth time to exchange knowledge, experiences and detailed information related to trade and investment in Myanmar, as well as to offer investors a chance to engage with those directing the policies of the country. She said it also aimed to update investors on current consumer behaviour trends.
Also present at the seminar was adviser to Thailand’s Foreign Ministry, Chaisri Anaman, who presided over the opening ceremony, while a special keynote address on “Investment Opportunities in Myanmar for Thai Investors” was delivered by Thaung Tun, Myanmar’s Union Minister for the Office of the Union Government and Investment and Foreign Economic Relations Ministry.
The event also included a special discussion on “Doing Business Responsibly” led by Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, former secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development and former director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Also on the agenda were Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan, as well as the Project Bank Development Plan for Myanmar, Investment Opportunities in Electricity and Energy, updates on information on new laws that are offering retail and wholesale opportunities for foreign companies, and opportunities and methods in expanding bases of production into Myanmar.
The World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 ranking – which takes into consideration the ease of starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit for businesses, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency – has placed Myanmar at 171 out of 190 countries. However, Myanmar aims to make it to the top 100 by 2020-2021 and to the top 40 by 2035-2036.
In terms of foreign direct investment (FDI), the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) approved investment worth US$2.49 trillion (Bt76.5 trillion) from October 2018 to May 2019. Singapore, meanwhile, leads the pack with $1.6 trillion in foreign investments already in place, followed by China and Hong Kong. Thailand comes in fourth with a value of $118.63 million.
The industries that foreign investors have given most priority to in Myanmar during the first half of this year are commerce and communications, manufacturing, energy, hotel and tourism, and real estate.
Sorasak Keeratichokechaikul, president of the Thai Business Association of Myanmar (TBAM) added that the association has received support from the Thai embassy, as well as from prominent Thai banks and businesses that have invested in Myanmar in organising this year’s “Myanmar Insight”. Last year, over 600 Thai business operators joined the event from a variety of industries. TBAM reaffirmed its readiness to support and advise any Thai business interested in investing in Myanmar.
The value of Thailand-Myanmar trade in the first five months of this year stands at $3.2 trillion, marking an increase of 12.43 per cent from the same period last year. Thai exports to Myanmar were worth $188.32 billion, while imports stood at $1.3 trillion. Thailand’s exports include fuel, beverages, metal and metal products, chemicals, machinery, cars, and rice, to name a few. Products that Thailand imports includes natural gas, metal ores, animal meat for consumption, plant products and fruit.
Myanmar has great potential and capacity for business and investment since it is strategically positioned between the two large markets of China and India. Myanmar also benefits from having a large working-age population. Its strategic position as a regional and inter-regional hub is further strengthened by its inclusion in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Thailand and Myanmar are Natural Strategic Partners, especially with the Thai government’s policies supporting business and investment in Myanmar, all with the shared goal of creating sustainable development for the future.