- By Maung Thitsar (Yankin)
Occupying the southern 14 percent of the Korean Peninsula in East Asia, the Republic of Korea (ROK), also known as South Korea, possesses the 4th largest economy in Asia and the 11th largest in the world, touching the border lines with China, Russia and Japan.
Heading towards China, the United States, Viet Nam, Hong Kong and Japan, the main exports of South Korea include electronic products, machinery, motor vehicles (particularly automobiles and related parts), steel, ships, and textiles and clothing.
South Korea imports mainly textile, chemicals, petroleum, petroleum products, natural gas, coal, which are coming from China, Japan, the United States, Germany, and Saudi Arabia.
Having upbeat tempo in doing business, South Korea is enjoying the prime economic development.
Diplomatic relations between Myanmar and South Korea started in 1975 and the Republic of Korea and Myanmar generally enjoy good relations. Myanmar has an embassy in Seoul and South Korea has an embassy in Yangon.
Economic cooperation between the two countries is going well in top gear and that South Korea is providing aids and grants as well as scholarships for Myanmar students.
Statistics show that Myanmar exported US$ 164.54 million to South Korea and imported US$ 152.22 million from October to January in 2018-2019. Therefore, the trade volume stands out US$ 316.76 million, edging over 35.93 percent compared to last year.
Items going out to South Korea as exports from Myanmar are ready made garments, shoes, raw rubber, bean and pulses, and sesame, while importing machinery, metals, electrical goods, and transport vehicles.
Among the 49 countries that have invested in Myanmar, South Korea stands out at number six slot.
While Korean investors are looking to expand in Myanmar’s manufacturing and infrastructure sectors, 170 businesses have already established and invested ending April 2019, amounting US$ 3.9 billion mainly in manufacturing sector.
In the past, the South Korean firms mainly engaged businesses in China and Vietnam, and at the current circumstances, business opportunity for expansion in those countries is dim and gloom. As a result, the quest for new business opportunities and good partners has started in South and South East Asia such as Indonesia, Cambodia and Myanmar.
In an attempt to enter countries in Indo-China, the South Korean government has adopted “New Southern Policy” for its SMEs, and that it is a prime time for South Korea to do business with Myanmar in cooperation with Myanmar local nationals.
Not long ago, the opportune time has opened up in dispatching Myanmar delegation to South Korea.
At the invitation of Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK) and the Korean Government, a Myanmar delegation attended the Myanmar Investment Forum for Korean SMEs Korea and Fintech Week 2019 held from 22 to 24 May 2019.
A Myanmar delegation headed by the Union Minister for the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations as well as Chairman of Myanmar Investment Commission attended the gathering. The Chairman of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and many representatives were included in the delegation.
Inspiring and heartening to witness was the fact that the event was embraced not only by the persons from the government domain but also from private spheres. Jam-packed with overflowing 280 business people from Korean SMEs, the Myanmar Investment Forum was conducted in the upbeat.
Hall of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry-KCCI was the venue of gathering, and the attendees were very much eager to hear the investment opportunities in Myanmar. Responsible persons had taken meticulous care of the forum on every aspect, which is worth emulating in doing such tasks.
All in all it was a good show as the necessary information with regards to the investment opportunities in Myanmar had been spelled out such as that of the Myanmar Investment Law, the most transparent aspects of the Myanmar Company Law (2018), the related rules, regulations and procedures, the salient factors of Myanmar Investment Promotion Plan (MIPP), and the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (MSDP). The potential international investors are invited to do business in Myanmar.
South Korean prospect of investment in Myanmar
At a time when the prevailing circumstances and dilemma in the domestic landscape is not favorable to expect the investment from the western bloc countries, it is appropriate and suitable to invite and issue clarion call to the countries in the east and the ASEAN countries for investment in Myanmar.
Standing at the six slot mark and fine position as investor in Myanmar, South Korea is most likely to expand investment in the country being an important partner.
Ongoing tasks are being seen, such as from the Land and Housing Corporation of South Korea in joint-venture investments, and that of KMIC Development Co., Ltd in construction of a high standard Industrial Complex. Such investments could be seen as precursors for further investment in SME projects in the manufacturing industry.
Providing supportive, encouraging and inspiring move, the timely visit of Myanmar delegation to the Republic of Korea is sure to attract the SMEs firms of South Korea to investment further in Myanmar.
Translated by UMT (Ahlon)