By May Thet Hnin, Khin Yadana, and Myanmar News Agency
The two-day Myanmar Investment Forum 2017 started yesterday in the Myanmar International Convention Center in Nay Pyi Taw, with the export of export-quality products and agricultural produce, progress of rubber exports and the need to lift up the tourism industry by cooperating with the private sector among the topics up for discussion. One foreign investor said that the skyrocketing price of land has become a hindrance in making investments.
The forum hosted by the Myanmar Investors Development Association (MIDA) was opened by Vice President U Myint Swe by striking a ceremonial gong three times.
“The forum aims to provide investors with the ease of doing business in Myanmar”, the Vice President said. “Currently, Myanmar relies on foreign capital and trade for the socio-economic and the country’s economic development. So, foreign direct investment (FDI) becomes the main driver to promote the inflow of much needed foreign capital in the country”. U Khin Maung Aye, an official from MIDA, said the forum hopes to smoothen the path towards increased investment in Myanmar by both domestic and foreign entrepreneurs.
“We hope that constructive criticism will result in excellent decisions and advice for the government and local and overseas investors. Many investors from international communities are greatly interested in investing in Myanmar. We are responsible for creating situations for them to enter the country energetically. They, on their side, are necessary to create the best investment systems which will suit Myanmar”, U Khin Maung Aye said.
In addition, there will be discussions about investment opportunities in the special economic zones in Dawei, Thilawa and Kyaukpyu as well as in industrial zones in various regions across Myanmar and other large-scale projects. There will also be discussions about possible changes in the financial sector to boost financial stability for investors.
“With the incumbent government’s various incentives and policies to draw in investors, the rapidly changing market is too fast for investors to stay up-to-date with. This is the reason MIDA was established, to create business forums that link these knowledge gaps,” said U Khin Maung Aye.
A discussion on construction of much-needed infrastructure will be a separate topic, since cooperation from the private sector is important in acquiring the necessary budgets for these projects.
U Khin Maung Aye said the government has prioritised two objectives for aiding investors, first of which is creating a fair and competitive environment for investors and the second is creating a reliable legal framework to work with. He added that because of these efforts there has been a significant decrease in the risks and dangers for businesses in Myanmar and therefore it is one of the best places for investors.
Mr Felix Haas, a freelance economic advisor who has participated in economic processes involving the World Bank and the United Nations, said Myanmar still has improvements to make, but the necessary work will be worth it.
“Myanmar is still weak in rapid economic development after the incumbent started to take office, but it is in the promising stage between potential economic basis and opportunities. On the general view of Myanmar’s economy, it can develop much provided that economic reforms had been made in every sector. I assume that the government also should find solutions by giving supports, laying down laws, orders and frameworks with a view to development of banking services, monetary markets and productivity.”
U Kyaw Win, Union Minister for Planning & Finance, said: “We have a lot to develop in the agricultural sector — investment in agro-based driving forces and production through joint-venture system, provision of supports from the government side, especially up-gradation of farmers’ lives, and encouragement of livestock breeding and transformation from small-scale farming to 1,000-acreage farming.”
He also pledged that the government would try its best for bringing about the economic enterprises with full responsibility and accountability in economic zones and extraction including mining, for creating job opportunities for locals and to implement economic basics that are open and do not harm natural environment.
U Aung Naing Oo, director-general of Myanmar Investment Commission said, “There are changes in types of investments in economic sectors of our country. For example, prior to 2011, there had been 8 per cent investment in mining, with only 1 per cent at the present time. Likewise, there was only one per cent in the past with now reaching up to 12 per cent in the communications sector. We will have to amend laws on the economy, approve and promulgate rules and laws, encourage foreign investments, make efforts to develop small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and make reforms in many sectors.”
The Myanmar Investment Forum is being attended by over 100 economic organisations, more than 90 foreign enterprises and nearly 200 Myanmar businesspersons, with discussions and seminars being held presently.
The forum continues today.