Malaysians urge entrepreneurs to lead business recovery, lobby for change

Myanmar’s young businesses may well be the driving force the country needs to overcome the economic setbacks wrought by COVID-19 and lobby the government for new policies that enable growth, executives said.

At a networking event held at the Yangon Esperado Lake View Hotel on August 18, Jean Loi, President of the Malaysia Myanmar Business Chamber (MMBC), told the business community to watch the startup and SME space for that spark of growth needed to rebuild the Myanmar economy. Babbel | Sponsored

“Due to COVID-19, firms will lay people off to cut costs and household incomes will fall. One of the best ways out of this situation is for younger professionals to start their own businesses,” Ms Loi said. She added that there are many strong Malaysian companies in Myanmar with access to financing that local firms can form partnerships with to trigger new investments.

Mr Zahairi Baharim, Ambassador of Malaysia to Myanmar, said the MMBC is prepared to host events and webinars enabling businesses in Myanmar to connect. He said his focus is to raise the profiles of Malaysian businesses in Myanmar and facilitate more foreign direct investments (FDI) from his country.

Now is the time for businesses in Myanmar to expand. “COVID-19 will be with us for years to come. With the resources and human talent here, Myanmar can grab the opportunity to become the new manufacturing and trading hub in the region. Do not wait or you will only end up at the losing end,” he said.

He added that young investors and businesses should be more aggressive in pressing the government for better policies that enable a competitive business environment and attract more investments.
“The younger generation should take the lead in challenging the government for new and more progressive policies that bring about change in business. Otherwise, I am afraid all our efforts to raise interest and bring key investors back to Myanmar will be lost,” he said.

Since Myanmar banned all international commercial flights from landing in Myanmar in April, the Malaysians have facilitated the return of 15 executives from Kuala Lumpur via relief flights. 20 more are registered to return with the MMBC, pending approval from the Myanmar authorities.

As of June 30, Malaysia is the eighth largest foreign investor in Myanmar with total approved FDI valued at US$1.9 billion, according to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration. The majority of these investments are in manufacturing, oil and gas and real estate development.

Among the major Malaysian investors are Nissan car manufacturer Tan Chong Motor (Myanmar) Co. Ltd, OJI GS Packaging (Yangon) Co., Ltd, oil and gas company Petronas Carigali Overseas, palm oil company Prestige Platform and industrial feed maker Texchem Food.

Other Malaysian prominent brands and service providers already established in Myanmar are Maybank, VDB Loi, Zico Law, MASTECH, D’Jungle, Muhibbah Engineering, Manhattan Fish Market, Marry Brown,
VNC, Beryl’s and Mamee.

There are also other Malaysian companies that wish to expand their market into Myanmar namely, lubricant manufacturer Hyrax Oil, medical equipment supplier Hana Medic, Spritzer, Kenny Rogers, SHT Engineering Group, heavy equipment manufacturer UMW and Diversatech, which distributes fertiliser, according to the Malaysian embassy.

Mr Zahairi stressed that both the government and businesses in Myanmar should by now be more prepared to integrate and engage with the rest of the region. He said one way local SMEs can think about expanding is to connect with peers in the region and capitalise on initiatives like the Asean Economic Community (AEC) to market their products and services.The AEC aims to create a single market and production base for the free flow of goods, services, investment, capital, and
skilled labour within Asean.

“The younger generation should think bigger and get ready for more business growth. Rest assured that businesses across the region are already preparing for
recovery and expansion in spite of COVID-19. Myanmar should do the same to avoid being left behind,” Mr Zahairi said.

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Source : Myanmar Times

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