US firms interested in Myanmar’s digital economy

The US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) led a business mission to Myanmar in which they held a meeting with the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) to strengthen trade and investments in the country. The USABC is an advocacy organisation for American corporations operating within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Alexander Feldman, USABC chief, led a delegation of businesses to meet Yangon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein, representatives at the Directorate of investment and company administration (DICA) and the UMFCCI, as well as government officials.

USABC met UMFCCI to discuss various sectors, including manufacturing, insurance, banking, legal services, power supply, medicine, IT, food production, cosmetic, automotive and oil and gas.

UMFCCI members explained the current economic development in Myanmar and the market opportunities.

U Maung Maung Lay, vice president of UMFCCI, said that there’s a good chance for American firms to penetrate Myanmar and he welcomes those companies because “they are reliable and accountable.”

The business mission includes Abbot, AIG, Baker McKenzie, Chevron, Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, Ford, GE, GM, Jhpiego, Kimberly-Clark, Microsoft and Visa.

U Wai Phyo, another vice president of UMFCCI, said that companies are interested in Myanmar’s digital economy.

Myanmar needs to put in place business-friendly regulations in order to strengthen investor confidence and attract more foreign investments, U Zaw Moe Khine, chair and CEO of Pacific AA Motor Ltd, the official dealer of Chevrolet in the country, said.

Approved FDI from the US in Myanmar lags behind many Asian and European countries.

According to information from DICA in terms of approved FDI, Singapore invested US$1711 million in Myanmar while China invested $841 million, the Netherlands invested $519 million, the UK invested $204 million and the US invested $128 million during the fiscal year 2017-18 fiscal year, as of October this year.

Additionally, American businesses are also wary of the Rakhine conflict which has plunged part of the country into a humanitarian crisis.

On October 19, shareholder activists at Chevron Corp pressed the US oil major to discuss an August 31 letter they had sent to the company asking it to consider cutting ties with “governments complicit in genocide,” Reuters reported. The shareholders have asked Chevron to pressure the Myanmar government for a solution for the crisis.

Chevron Myanmar subsidiary, Unocal Myanmar Offshore Co, has projects that include a minority interest in natural gas production and a pipeline, according to the company’s website. Reuters quoted the activist shareholders as saying that they are “growing increasingly concerned over the lack of a constructive response from Chevron” on their requests since the letter was sent.

Source : Myanmar Times

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