Developing Myanmar is on the lookout for foreign enterprises and investors
The rapid development of Myanmar is opening up a wealth of business opportunities. The emerging economy of South-East Asia strives to raise its profile in the eyes of both the international community and enterprises. For example, it is hoped that Yangon, the country’s largest city, will take its place among modern international metropoli, an aspiration reflected in ambitious projects.
Yangon’s recent development plan combines a wide range of objectives relating to urban development, transport arrangements and trade links. The region’s political leadership is especially interested in increasing relations with foreign investors.
Finpro’s Myanmar Growth Market Program and other Team Finland actors are following the opportunities opening up to Finnish enterprises through the project from close range. The expectation is that opportunities will surface in various sectors, such as the fields of urban planning and construction, logistics, and the energy and environmental sectors.
Interesting plans in these particular sectors are, among others, the third airport in Yangon region, the new deep-water harbour accommodating larger merchant ships as well as separate special economic zones for the city, of which one of the most significant is planned specifically in connection with the new deep-water harbour.
The purpose is to take advantage of Myanmar’s favourable position and connect the deep-water harbour and the possible airport to the ‘economic corridors’ canalising the markets of China and other major trading partners, such as India.
If successful, the nation may at best become a significant international trade hub.
In addition, Yangon aims to modernise the existing trade parks and to build a whole new town, New City, in the immediate vicinity of Yangon.
Although the plans are still in their infancy, Myanmar’s political leadership clearly wants to attract the attention of foreign enterprises and investors through its opening. Local legislative work, for its part, aims to promote the formation of a clearer and more effective business environment.
This is reflected, for example, in the wording of a new investment law. In addition, an updated company law is under work. It is also worth noting that the European Union is currently negotiating on an investment protection agreement with Myanmar.
What’s more, reform of the banking sector, which had been proceeding slowly, appears to be accelerating, and efforts to address corruption are more emphatic than before. These projects are coherent elements of the aim of the country’s Government to ease foreign investment.
It should also be mentioned that the United States has decided to lift its last trade sanctions on Myanmar.
When all the variables are added together, Myanmar can be expected to present numerous attractive business opportunities.
The author is head of office in the Diplomatic Mission of Finland in Yangon.