Foreign investors still cautious about Myanmar

Myanmar information search service

Despite strong effort by the Myanmar government to introduce reforms, especially in the business sector, the country still faces a lot of challenges that are keeping foreign investors away, a senior official has admitted.

The key challenges faced by the business sector include infrastructure problems such as insufficient power supply, poor roads and logistics, as well as the lack of skilled labour.

Aung Naing Oo, director-general of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) at the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development, said DICA’s two key responsibilities involved investment and the registration of corporations.

“We have made a lot of improvements. We have been able to revise our new foreign investment law, create a better investment environment in our country, as well as attract foreign investment in Myanmar, which was a key achievement of DICA last year,” Naing Oo said.

The country had revised the new special economic zone law and it was awaiting parliament approval, he said. Before the end of this year, Myanmar would have this new zone law, which would grant foreigners longer tax waivers – from five years to seven. And import and export fees should be processed within the economic zone.

“Meanwhile, we are preparing to revise the existing Myanmar Companies Act in order to make things easier for individual investors. We are not only protecting local businesses, but also foreign investors. The new foreign investment law will provide full protection to investors doing business in Myanmar,” he added.

Naing Oo said that as a member of Asean, Myanmar needed to protect the region’s business community.

“We are working very closely with the Asian Development Bank [ADB] for technical and financial assistance for the revision of Myanmar Companies Act and we need time.

“Revisions cannot be made frequently, so we want to ensure that everything is in place before the draft law is submitted to parliament. That’s why it will take anything from a few months to a year,” Naing Oo said.

“Our target is that by the end of 2014, we will have the new Myanmar Companies Act. We are trying our best to have it in place before 2014. The existing Act does not allow Myanmar companies to find or work with foreign partners, but the new Myanmar Companies Act will let local businesses to invite foreigners to participate,” he said.

Naing Oo said Myanmar currently had two laws for foreign businesses – one is the Foreign Investment Act and the other is the Myanmar Companies Act.

“We have already revised the Foreign Investment Act and it is time for us to revise the Myanmar Companies Act. We will also provide training to local businesses so they can understand more about doing business in Myanmar, such as what is the best and most appropriate way of doing business in our country. We explain to them the rules and regulations of our laws.”

He added that DICA had also opened the door to SMEs, saying they could come in and ask whatever details they needed to understand the law.

DICA will also send its officials to business communities to solve their problems, especially SMEs, which play a very big part in Myanmar. Nearly 90 per cent of the businesses in Myanmar are small or medium-sized enterprises.

Source: The Nation Thailand

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