Election jitters as MIC gives permits

The Myanmar Investment Commission has permitted 11 more investments this week.

Some claim this a sign that foreign business interest continues even as the election nears, though other experts say they may simply be older investments looking to solidify their status.

A total of seven of the 11 investments are from foreign entities, with most earmarked for the garment industry, according to statistics posted on the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration website.

Ministry of Commerce advisor U Maung Aung said that while there is a focus on preparations for the election, not all investors will be put off as they approach.

“We are still seeing an influx of foreign investment even though the election is close,” he said.

“Only some foreign investors are still watching with concern for the challenges ahead. But others see a surplus of opportunities based on Myanmar’s geopolitical potential.”

U Maung Aung said it is no surprise the garment industry has drawn fresh pledges of investment. While there have been protests and the minimum wage is still a thorny issue, local labour wages are still the lowest in the region apart from Bangladesh.

Duty-free access to markets such as the European Union is also attracting businesses to invest, he said.

Others noted that fresh approvals do not necessarily mean fresh investment.

U Zaw Naing Thein, chair of the Investment Promotion Committee, said it is possible some of the newly approved investments had set up previously and simply sought Myanmar Investment Commission approval to become more formal.

For the garment business, international investors tend to be more concerned with labour protests than they are with the minimum wage as a specific separate entity, he said.

A member of the central executive committee of business group UMFCCI said there are two types of foreign investment currently seeking approvals – some have already been made, and simply want a firmer legal basis. Others want to grab a position in Myanmar ahead of potential rule changes with the election.

“I am sure the current influx of investment is not huge, new amounts to be invested,” he said.

The names of the approved investments include Maha Nadi Maritime Services Company, Mirae Myanmar Company, Myanmar Dongtai Garments Company, Goldenberg Plastic Metal Company, Pretty Fashion (Myanmar) Company, Double Packing (Myanmar) Company,Kouwa Myanmar Company, Qingjian (Myanmar) Enterprise Company, Best Four Company, Thet Paing Soe Data Centre, and San Lin International Export and Import Co.

Of the 11 approved investments, eight are located in Yangon, and one each in Bago Region, Nay Pyi Taw and Myitkyina in Kachin State.

Myanmar Investment Commission officials have previously discussed plans for incentives to locate more investments outside the main cities, particularly Yangon.

Source: Myanmar Times

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