MOU opens doors to Myanmar for more Singapore firms

SINGAPORE — Homegrown transport and logistics firm Bok Seng Group signed an agreement with Myanmar’s Ayeyar Hinthar Group earlier this year to develop a one-stop logistics hub in the Pathein Industrial City — the region’s first large-scale industrial park.

Bok Seng is one of the growing number of Singapore businesses seeking to expand into the emerging market of Myanmar.

Yesterday, trade development agency International Enterprise (IE) Singapore inked an agreement with the Myanmar Investment Commission to strengthen economic relations between the two countries.

The signing was witnessed by Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang and Myanmar’s Union Minister for Planning and Finance Kyaw Win, on the sidelines of the 6th Singapore-Myanmar Joint Ministerial Working Committee meeting.

As of end March 2017, Singapore was Myanmar’s top foreign investor, with investments amounting to US$4.3 billion (S$5.9 billion), said IE Singapore.

According to the Asian Development Bank, Myanmar’s gross domestic product grew at a rate of 6.4 per cent in 2016, and is forecast to reach 7.7 per cent this year.

With an eye to help more Singapore companies explore business opportunities in the emerging economy, Mr Tan Soon Kim, IE Singapore’s assistant CEO said that while “teething challenges are present”, the government of Myanmar has made a concerted effort “to create a conducive business environment for foreign investors”.

One positive sign is the newly-passed investment law, which “shows the government’s commitment to promote investments,” said Mr Tan.

As Myanmar’s key cities develop, IE Singapore has been working closely with Singapore companies across all sectors, in particular in the provision of urban solutions, transport and logistics, utilities and professional services.

For example, local food and beverage chain BreadTalk has negotiated its franchise model with Myanmar conglomerate Shwe Taung.

Its first stall in the country opened in Shwe Taung’s landmark Junction City mall, occupying a prime space on the ground floor.

In March, Surbana Jurong signed an agreement with Myanmar’s building industry representative, the Myanmar Construction Entrepreneurs Association, to develop low-cost and affordable housing.

Mr Lee Leong Seng, Surbana Jurong’s general manager, Myanmar, said: “We have 70 projects since we entered the market in 2013 and with Surbana Jurong’s expanded capabilities and strong partnerships forged, the team and I look forward to new opportunities in new and existing markets that will propel the Myanmar business to the next level.”

Source: Today