Transport and energy access barriers to Myeik industrialisation

The city in Tanintharyi Region amounts to far more than the gateway to over 800 islands of the archipelago. Access to energy and transport infrastructure remain the biggest barrier for industrialisation to take off in the city and its hinterland.

The latest Colliers International report stated that Myeik has made great strides over the past ten years developing its potential for fishing and agriculture value-added industries. This progress was achieved despite poor transportation linking the city to the rest of the country and to Thailand and without connection to the electricity grid.

According to Tony Picon, vice chair of Colliers International Myanmar, Myeik businesses have developed some significant aqua-culture activities as well as fish processing and other value-added industries. However, there is still a long way to go and thus the city boasts enormous potential.

“According to businesspeople in Myeik, around 90 percent of the fish caught along the long Tanintharyi coastline is offloaded in Thailand, where all the value-added activities take place such as processing and key is cold storage,” Mr Picon said.

At present, Myeik is powered by diesel-powered electric generators. The generators produce more consistent power supply but they come at an enormous cost. Mr Picon stressed that high cost of electricity makes it very difficult for industrial development to take place. Myeik is ready to benefit from a proper grid connection or its own power plant in the future.

“They have an industrial zone all ready and waiting for the day when cheaper electricity is available plus better road connectivity to Yangon and Thailand.

“You hear about import substitution being mentioned as a priority and, in Myeik, you realise with these improvements it can really become a reality,” Mr Picon explained, who listed fish, rubber and palm oil as some of the resources which can provide the raw material for value-added industries.

The town itself has become a jumping off point for visitors taking day trips to the nearby Myeik Archipelago and as one of the main commercial cities in Tanintharyi Region for business visitors.

The growth in hotel room supply occurred from 2013 to 2016 with nearly three quarters of the current 400 rooms being supplied during those three years. Most of the rooms now occupy the three to four-star category.

According to Colliers International, the development of resorts in the archipelago will help drive demand in Myeik per se. A sizable number of visitors will find the resorts too expensive for their budgets and will choose to stay in the town and take island hopping day trips, but they will still look for nice places to stay. The city also boasts some fine colonial architecture attracting visitors to the city in its own right.

The retail sector is limited to two shopping centres with very limited foreign brands evident and most retail activity occurs in traditional stores and wet markets. While most people live in landed properties, a new condominium development called Sea View Condo has been planned to the north of the city near Myeik Shopping Centre, comprising 12 towers.

Mr Picon added that after a visit to the city, visitors can feel a strong sense of optimism and belief in the country. Generally, the report is optimistic about the prospects of Myeik.

Source: Myanmar Times