Japanese investors eye retail sector investments in Myanmar

Wholesalers and retailers from Japan, Thailand and South Korea met with the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) to discuss investments in the Myanmar retail sector, said U Yan Naing Tun, director general of the Department of Trade under MOC.

Among the companies was Japanese retailer Aeon Co, which invested in the Myanmar retail sector under a joint venture – Aeon Orange Company – with local partner Creation Myanmar Group of Companies (CMGC) in August 2016.

Aeon Orange Co acquired 14 supermarkets operated by Hypermart Asia Co, an affiliate of CMGC. It opened its first store in North Okkalapa, Yangon, in September during the same year.

The Myanmar Times understands that Aeon is eyeing opportunities to further expand its presence in Myanmar.

“Interest from Japanese, Thai and South Korean investors has spiked since the MOC allowed foreigners to wholly-own wholesale and retail business in Myanmar,” said U Yang Naing Tun.

“We are in the process of reviewing proposals to invest in the sector from foreign companies,” U Yan Naing Tun, said.

The MOC issued Notification 25/2018, which authorises 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, on May 9.

Under the new rules, 100pc foreign-owned firms must make initial investments of US$3 million and $5 million to operate a retail or wholesale business, respectively, in Myanmar. Meanwhile, for joint ventures with foreigners where the local investor has at least a 20pc equity ratio, the initial investments necessary for retail and wholesale are $700,000 and $2 million, respectively.

On July 26, the MOC issued standard operating procedures (SOP) for retail and wholesale business registrations as well as a list of products allowable for trade.

The MOC said the list of products will provide specific information and make clear the type of goods allowed to be traded in Myanmar. The list includes 24 products and items, such as consumer goods, which includes clothes, watches and cosmetics, foodstuff, which includes agricultural, fishery, animal and instant products, beverages and locally-produced liquor, household and kitchen items, drugs and medical equipment as well as vehicles and vehicle parts (see table).

The SOP to apply for retail and wholesale services registration includes specifying the type of company, procedure for retail and wholesale operations, lowest investment amount, land area, if the business involves opening shops or enterprises and the registration period.

The MOC said its aim in allowing foreigners to carry out sales and distribution services in the domestic market is to provide more competitive prices and choices in quality to consumers.

Source: Myanmar Times

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