1 in 4 Asian firms ‘eyeing Myanmar’

SINGAPORE – One in four Asian companies is looking to invest in Myanmar, according to a survey by a Singaporean bank.

The UOB Asian Enterprise Survey 2014 found Myanmar had emerged as one of the key investment destinations for Asian companies.

Wee Ee Cheong, deputy chairman and chief executive officer of UOB Group, said more of United Overseas Bank (UOB)’s customers were seeking opportunities in Myanmar because of the country’s large population of 60 million, untapped natural resources and strategic geographic position bordering China, India and Southeast Asia.

“Currently, a large proportion of foreign direct investment going into Myanmar is from Southeast Asia. Just as we have helped many of our customers invest in industries that are necessary to support Southeast Asia’s economic growth, we will continue in our efforts to drive strategic and long-term investments that will benefit the people and businesses of Myanmar,” Mr Wee said.

Such investments include Singapore-based Asiatech Energy’s building of a combined cycle gas-fired power plant in Mon State, Myanmar.

The power plant, once completed, will produce enough electricity to power 1.6 million households in Myanmar.

UOB was one of only nine international banks to be awarded a foreign bank licence in Myanmar in October this year, enabling the Bank to play a more active role in helping its clients with interests in the country. UOB has been in Myanmar since 1994 when it opened a Representative Office in the country.

UOB was on Tuesday named the most admired Asean enterprise for Asean centricity at the Asean Business Awards 2014.

The Asean Business Awards recognise enterprises that have contributed to the growth and development of Southeast Asia.

UOB is the only Singapore bank to be honoured at this year’s awards.

Mr Wee said UOB’s long-term commitment to its clients in Southeast Asia has seen the bank grow from a small local bank in Singapore to a regional bank present in 19 countries and territories across the world.

“UOB is honoured to be recognised as an organisation that promotes economic growth in Southeast Asia through our integrated regional franchise.

“Over the last eight decades, we have come to appreciate the many opportunities and risks that businesses must manage in this diverse region. We have applied this knowledge and experience to actively help our customers seek business opportunities across Southeast Asia that deliver long-term, sustainable growth for the region,” Mr Wee said.

To support increasing intra-regional trade and investment within Southeast Asia, UOB created an extensive and integrated network.

This has enabled it to be at the forefront of connecting individuals and businesses to regional opportunities, he said.

UOB was the first bank in Singapore to establish dedicated units to facilitate intra-regional trade.

In 2004, it established the Global Business Development Unit to help Singapore businesses expand into the region.

Since 2011, the bank has set up nine dedicated Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Advisory Units which act as a springboard for customers to tap into UOB’s banking network in Southeast Asia, as well as to access its full suite of corporate banking, commercial banking and personal banking products.

Customers also benefit from UOB’s relationships with strategic partners in the legal profession, audit services, business consultancy and key government agencies across the region.

Intra-regional trade continues to make a difference to the economies in Southeast Asia.

In 2000, 33% of goods made in Southeast Asia were traded within Asia. By 2020, UOB forecasts that this will rise to 61%.

The rise in intra-regional trade is creating new investment opportunities for Southeast Asian companies.

Source: Bangkok Post

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