Koreans launch new Chamber of Commerce, targets more investments

The Myanmar Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MKCCI) launched on December 22 became the latest business group to formally open its doors in the country.

The organisation aims to support investments and businesses from the two countries and to boost Myanmar’s economic growth, said Tong Soo Chung, MKCCI’s chair, during the launch.

There are 13 founding members and 76 members from both countries, including well-known Korean firms such as KEB Hana Bank, Yulchon LLC, feed business Sunjin, chemicals company Jungho E&C, JBJ Entertainment and Korea university Kaist, among others.

U Aung Naing Oo, Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA)’s director general, emphasised that South Korea is Myanmar’s important economic partner, “bringing billions of dollars of investment to the country.”

The two parties boast a long history in trade as well. “Korea is the first-ever foreign investor in Myanmar when our country opened up in 1988,” the official added.

DICA figures at the end of November place South Korea as the fifth-largest source of approved foreign investment in Myanmar, amounting to approximately US$254 million worth of FDI.

Korean investments are active in manufacturing, infrastructure projects, construction, distribution and franchise, and hospitality businesses, said Lee Keun Jae, secretary general of MKCCI. This year, CJ Feed’s US$16.7 million factory in Yangon’s Hmawbi township went into operation. Lotte Group in October acquired an 80 percent stake in Myanmar food maker L&M Mayson Co for US$67.5 million.

Meanwhile, Korea Land and Housing Corporation is building a new Korean industrial complex in Hlegu township, while GS Construction has started building the bridge connecting downtown Yangon and Dala township. The Dala bridge will be financed by a $136 million loan from South Korea’s Economic Development Cooperation Fund, with the remaining $32 million covered by Myanmar.

In addition, the commerce ministry’s measure to liberalise the retail and wholesale sector has attracted investor interest from the East Asian republic. Lottemart and E-Mart, Korea’s two biggest retailers, are at the stage of choosing locations for their shops in Myanmar.

The Myanmar Times understands that two Korean banks are in the process of applying for a banking licence in Myanmar.

The launch of the Korean business group comes at a time when the Myanmar government has devised a “Look East” policy in the wake of international backlash over the northern Rakhine crisis. As business confidence drops and growth slows, Nay Pyi Taw wants to drum up investments and tourists from Japan, Korea, Greater China, India and Southeast Asia. U Than Aung Kyaw, deputy DICA director general, said the new Myanmar Investment Promotion Plan was designed to raise investments from East Asian economies over the next two decades.

On the tourism front, Korean tourists – along with Japanese, Hong Kong and Macau visitors – can visit Myanmar visa-free since October.

The “Look East” policy, however, has hit the rocks. Manufacturer Samsung Electronics earlier this year decided not to set up a manufacturing unit in the country, while joint venture airline proposals from Malaysian AirAsia and Japanese ANA were rejected by the civil aviation department.

Source: Myanmar Times

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