Foreign Investment in Myanmar on the Rise: Deputy Minister for Planning and Finance

YANGON—Myanmar’s deputy minister for planning and finance said foreign investment in Myanmar is on the rise, stating the country has so far attracted more than $12 billion in foreign investment since the National League for Democracy (NLD) government took office in 2016.

U Set Aung told the country’s Lower House on Tuesday that from 2016 to 2018, the Southeast Asian country has seen 360 foreign investments totaling $12.37 billion in 10 sectors ranging from agriculture to industry to tourism.

Since the enactment of the 1988 Investment Law, Myanmar has accepted 1,110 investments valuing a total of $63.72 billion as of March 2016.

“We would say that there is an increase in FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) because the amount of investment allowed by the new [NLD] government from April 2016 to March 2018 amounts to 16.25 percent of the total FDI from 1988 to 2018 March,” he said.

Since the country opened up in 2012, Myanmar was considered by many to be one of the last economic frontiers and was the object of much investor interest with the resulting influx of FDI reaching its peak in 2014 at a total of over $8 billion in approved investments for the year. When the democratically-elected NLD government came to power in 2016, the country expected a further increase in FDI.

However, hope soon fizzled out when many multinational corporations decided to boycott the country after the exodus of nearly 700,000 Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh last year following a spate of violence in northern Rakhine State which saw accusations of human rights abuses against Myanmar’s security forces.

Meanwhile, Myanmar has been struggling on with its aim to become more investor-friendly, focusing on attracting investors from neighboring ASEAN and East Asian countries, by enacting the new Myanmar Investment Law. The law aims to create a fair and more level playing field for both foreign and domestic investors to do business with ease here through transparent, simplified and quick procedures and incentives like tax exemption.

As a result, the last six months saw $2 billion in foreign investment here, with more than $700 million coming from Singapore alone in manufacturing, real estate, transportation, energy and tourism.

Beginning in the 2016-17 fiscal year, the government is currently carrying out a 20-year plan to attract more FDI with a target of $221 billion, according to the government’s Directorate of Investment and Company Administration.

Earlier this week, the government proposed in parliament the formation of a new cabinet in order to boost local and international investment.

Source: Irrawaddy

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