Foreign investor interest in Myanmar education, retail sectors on the rise: DICA

Myanmar’s recently liberalised education and retail sectors has drawn interest from foreign investors.

Education service providers from Singapore, Australia and New Zealand have shown substantial interest to invest in Myanmar’s education sector, said U Than Aung Kyaw, Deputy Director General at the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA).

Since the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) opened up the Myanmar education sector to foreign investors, companies and service providers from the education sector, particularly in those countries, now want to expand their service offerings in Myanmar, U Than Aung Kyaw told The Myanmar Times.

The MIC announced on April 20 that Myanmar would permit foreigners to make full capital investments in private schools and other educational institutions in the country.

While opening up the sector to foreign direct investments represents a big step forward for Myanmar, challenges remain for investors wanting to do business in the country. These include the cost of property, human resource issues and the lack of infrastructure.

“But one of the biggest issues for investors is the regulatory environment, which is still unclear and prone to change,” said Eugene Quah, CEO & Founder of Edulink, an education services provider in Myanmar. “This makes it difficult to attract reputable, high-quality education investors and partners.”

Mr Quah expects things to improve in the months ahead though. “The government has demonstrated that it is interested in addressing this issue and is taking steps to make Myanmar more attractive to high-quality education providers,” he added.

Kaplan Myanmar University College, a subsidiary of US education program provider Kaplan Inc, is among the early movers. The service provider will open its campus in Yangon this Thursday.

Retail interest

Foreign investor interest in Myanmar’s retail sector is rising too. “Japan and Thailand are interested to bring in supermarkets and department stores to Myanmar after the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) opened up the sector to full foreign investment,” U Than Aung Kyaw said

The Japanese already have a presence in the local retail scene. In 2016, Japanese department store chain Aeon and its local partner together established Aeon Orange in Yangon.

“We hope that Korean investors will also invest wholesale and retail industry in Myanmar, U Than Aung Kyaw added.

The MOC on May 9 authorised 100 percent foreign-owned companies as well as joint ventures between international and domestic investors to carry out retail and wholesale businesses in the country.

Source: Myanmar Times

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