Businesses more optimistic on the Myanmar investment arena compared to last year

Prospects for the Myanmar economy are looking promising despite the unrest in northern Rakhine, officials from the public and private sector said today.

Inflation pressures are expected to ease and private and public investments in infrastructure services and non-commodity sectors such as light manufacturing and hospitality are forecast to grow, said U Maung Maung Win, Deputy Minister of Planning and Finance, during his keynote speech during the 2017 Myanmar Global Myanmar Investment Forum holding in Nay Pyi Taw.

U Maung Maung Win said during a sideline interview with The Myanmar Times that the Ministry of National Planning and Finance has set an economic growth rate target of 7 percent for current fiscal year.

Investment is critical to national economic development, not just from the locals but from the international arena as well, U Maung Maung Win added. ”Myanmar government has already legislated the laws and regulations needed for smooth foreign direct investment (FDI) and the Companies Act is soon to be released. Then, FDI will rise exponentially,” he said, adding that Myanmar is targeting total FDI of US$11 billion per year within the next 13 years.

Myanmar is now putting the necessary legislation in place to facilitate its targets. The Myanmar Companies Act was drafted in order to streamline procedures and to lower the compliance costs for doing business.

The Companies Act is already passed by Upper House and it is to be waited the approval of lower house, which can be considered to have final approval by the end of 2017, U Aung Naing Oo Secretary of Myanmar Investment Commission, said.

“We estimate we can start applying the new Companies Act in earlier 2018 which can create more favorable business environment for foreign investors,” he said.

To promote further FDI, the Foreign Direct Investment Promotion Plan (FDIPP) was implemented with the assistance of the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Under the plan, a projected increase in FDI to a target amount of US$4 billion is expected, U Maung Maung Win said.

Between now and 2020, the plan aims to strengthen the economic and investment base by reducing poverty, and raising FDI to US$ 6 billion per year.

Over the longer term, the implementation of mega infrastructure projects such as roads, ports and power grids should bring FDI to US$ 8 billion per year. By 2030, total FDI is expected to reach US$11 billion on the back of further diversification and upgrading of Myanmar as a manufacturing and production base.

The FDIPP is continually updated in accordance with new investment law and regulations and will become the Myanmar Investment Promotion Plan (MIPP) in near future, U Maung Maung Win added.

“In the current fiscal year, the pledged FDI amount has already reached US$ 3.5 billion, a considerable increase compared to the same time of the previous year when FDI flow was US$ 400 million,” he said.

Melvyn Pun, CEO of Yoma Strategic, told The Myanmar Times exclusively that “when I speak with international investors and others, some people are quite worried about the fact that things are not going well. For example, maybe the government is not sure whether the economy is the most important thing.”

“From my perspective I see significant progress in the country. Laws and regulations are moving in the right direction,” he said.

For Myanmar businesses, we have a very good opportunity in next few years as the government is refocusing on the economy and frankly the economy is still growing very fast without too much foreign competition yet, Mr Pun said.

U Aung Naing Oo added that existing projects involving FDI should not be impacted by the unrest in northern Rakhine. “In Rakhine, all the FDI is focused on southern Rakhine and offshore,” he said.

He also said the forum helps to connect local and international investors and highlights what Myanmar government needs to do in terms of policies and legislation to build a favourable environment for international investors.

“The high rank government officials will have better knowhow of what international investors are demanding from the government. And we have the opportunity to contribute to the reform process of Myanmar in different sectors, helping to attract international investors to our country. The forum encourages more FDI into the country yearly,” he said.

According to the Asian Development Bank,Myanmar’s economic performance should improe, with GDP growth of 7.7 percent in 2017 and 8 percent in 2018.The world bank also forecasts that Myanmar’s economy will grow an average of 7.1 percent per year in next three years.

Source : Myanmar Times