There are plans to allow foreign investors to trade goods inside Myanmar, a sector currently under heavy restrictions, said Dr Maung Aung, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, but he conceded that the exact time when this will come into effect has not been determined.
Foreigners are allowed to sell finished products out of SEZs, but must have special permission to operate elsewhere in the country, according to the Law of Special Economic Zones (SEZ).
“Exporting unprocessed local products would not be satisfactory. It would not be very different with what local traders are doing. There would put foreign businesses in competition with local traders,” Dr Maung Aung said.
To revitalise Myanmar’s trade sector, the Ministry of Commerce has loosened import and export licence systems by increasing the number of tax-exempted goods in the last few years.
A notable exception to these laws are local and international joint venture vehicle showrooms, who can import and distribute brand new cars with DICA’s (Directorate of Investment and Companies Administration) approval.
“Most of the foreign investors are not only concerned with the local market but also on workforce, geographical location and whether it is possible to cost-effectively export to neighbouring countries. That is why wider permission to trade in the country needs to be allowed for foreigners,” said U Kyaw Win Tun, Deputy Director General of DICA.
“There is little chance that foreign companies would export rice or other farming goods instead of producing new products,” he added.
According to Ministry of Commerce statistics, Myanmar has received over $5.68 billion in foreign investment from January until August 28 this year.
The Ministry estimates that the country will see $6.64 billion in imports and $4.55 billion in exports this year.
Source: Myanmar Business Today