Myanmar Business Leaders Bullish on Future Under Suu Kyi-

TOKYO — Business leaders in Myanmar are confident in the country’s future under the National League for Democracy government headed by de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, although they say improvements in infrastructure and the banking sector are needed to assure growth.

Speaking at a Myanmar economic forum sponsored by Nikkei Inc. in Tokyo on Monday, Chit Khine, chairman of Eden Group, a conglomerate active in hotels and other businesses, said he believes the government’s top priority is to deal with recent clashes between government forces and ethnic armed groups in northern Myanmar.

“The government must continue discussions with the ethnic armed groups,” he said in his keynote speech. “This is a major challenge, but Suu Kyi has been selected by the citizens, and we have full confidence in her administration. Unless there is total peace in Myanmar, we will not be able to succeed in [the] truest sense.”

Win Win Tint, managing director of the country’s largest retailer, City Mart Holding, called for an update of corporate law to attract foreign investors to Myanmar. “It will raise our businesses to a more international standard, giving more confidence to foreign investors about investment protection and clarity on processes and procedures in businesses.”

“Many of the challenges have been addressed since the [previous] civilian government [took office] in 2011,” she said. “I’m very positive and optimistic on Myanmar. I’m confident that the NLD government will continue to undertake more reforms.”

City Mart sees e-commerce as the next business opportunity in the country. “The sector is still fragmented, but there has been a surprising boom in the telecommunication industry in the past few years,” Win said. “Now almost 80% of the population has access to the internet via the mobile network. We are definitely going to see more demand from the internet retailing space.”

While the retailer plans to enter e-commerce next year, the main challenges are logistics and payments. Because of inadequate infrastructure, the logistics industry has not developed sufficiently to cope with e-commerce, according to Win. Another problem is the country’s banking system, which handles few credit and debit card payments.

However, Than Lwin, a senior consultant with Kanbawza Bank and former deputy governor of Myanmar’s central bank, said there is a revival of trust in the banking sector.

“More people are now accustomed to maintaining bank accounts, and the proportion has risen from a mere 5% of the total population a few years ago to an estimated 15% as of now. This momentum is increasing rapidly,” he said. “With the introduction of mobile banking and payment systems, the banking sector is bound to expand [its] services.”

Zaw Zaw, executive chairman of the conglomerate Max Myanmar Group, said: “Myanmar has an immense chance from now on. Infrastructure such as bridges, roads, and airports will be enhanced, resulting in more job opportunities for locals. We will make the utmost effort. We are ready for growth.”


Source: Nikkei Asian Review


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