Video: Myanmar Investment Opportunities – What you need to know

Learn about the investment opportunities that are revealed by the new legal framework in Myanmar

This is the 1st in a 2-part video series on Investing in Myanmar. This video outlines the business opportunities for foreign investors in the Reserved Sector and the Restricted Industry. Discuss about the size of investment required to be successful in the reserved sector and the restricted industry. Explained why the Restricted Industry is a gold mine for the average investor with a budget of US$2 mil to US$10 mil. Examples given include those in Oil & Gas, Telecommunication, Mobile, Casino, Supermarket, Cigarette, Retail, Hotel, Real Estate, Consumer Food, Franchise,etc. Explained the State Owned Economic Enterprises Law, the Foreign Investment Law and the Myanmar Companies Act.

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To view the 1st video in the 2-part investment series on Myanmar go to Myanmar Investment Opportunities – What you should know”.

A Transcript for the video on “Myanmar Investment Opportunities – What you need to know” is provided below for your convenience.
Slide 1
Hello this is Andrew here. I am the Director at Consult-Myanmar Company Limited.
Today we are going to talk about “Myanmar Investment Opportunities – What you need to know.”
Slide 2
This is Part 1 of an investment series on Myanmar. In Part 1 we discuss about the Investment Opportunities in Myanmar; and in Part 2 we will talk about Myanmar Company incorporation.
Slide 3
So let’s start with Part 1. What are the key legal framework that you must know before you make any investment decision in Myanmar?
Slide 4
There are basically 3 legislations that you must know. The State Owned Economic Enterprises Law; The Foreign Investment Law; Myanmar Companies Act
In Part 1 we will only cover State Owned Economic Enterprises Law and Restricted Industry. The Foreign Investment Law and the Myanmar Companies Act will be covered in Part 2 of this video series – when we talk about Company Incorporation.
Slide 5
For your information Restricted Industry is not a legislation. It is a set of guidelines and clarifications that are issued by the government. The clarifications expand upon some of the grey areas in the FIL. The restricted Industry list out sectors that the Myanmar people need help in due to lack of technology, management knowhow or capital. It tells you where the gaps are in the market and where the government want foreign investment to come in to make a positive impact, subject to meeting certain conditions.
Slide 6
There are 12 industries or sectors that are reserved for State Owned Economic Enterprises i.e. only the government can exploit these sectors. We call these 12 industries – the “Reserved Sectors”.
They are in industry such as the extraction and sales of teak wood; oil and gas; precious stones; postal and telecom services; and so on and so forth. Please read this at your own leisure.
Now just because these 12 sectors are reserved for the State does not mean that foreign investor cannot invest in these sectors.
Slide 7
In Oil & Gas sectors it is a standard practice for Ministry of Energy to invite oil companies to JV with the state via production sharing contract. This is normally done thru’ an open tender.

Slide 8
In the Telecom sector for example, the Ministry of Post and Telecom will issue 2 telco licence to 2 foreign investment groups in end of June 2013. This is part of the government efforts upgrade the telecommunication network in Myanmar and to increase mobile phone penetration from 7% to 50% in 3 years.
Slide 9
Take note that in the reserved sector you need to be among the top 10 players in your industry before you can have a chance to be pre-qualified to be a bidder for a licence. The investment involve in the reserved sectors can start from US one hundred million to a few billion dollars. So to be successful in the reserved sector you need to be a major player in your industry, have a good track record and have a very deep pocket.
Slide 10
In the reserved sector if you want to invest in it you can either approach the government to propose a joint-venture or most likely you can bid for a licence via an open tender when the government wants to bring in foreign expertise and capital.
Slide 11
Restricted industry is where you will find many opportunities that require investment in the range 2 to 10 million US dollars. The capital required is reasonably sized as opposed to the reserved sector.
Restricted Industry is an area that the Myanmar government has studied hard and carefully and has indicated that they need help from foreign investors. As the segment that they are looking to develop, the local Myanmar people may not have the technology, management knowhow or capital to fully exploit them and to bring the industry to an international level.
So the Myanmar government is saying that there is a gap in the market and foreigners could exploit these gaps under certain conditions. That is why I say that the restricted industry is a Gold Mine.
Slide 12
Before we talk about what industry foreign investors can invest in – let’s talk about the industy that foreign investors cannot invest in.
Any industry that degrades the water resources of Myanmar, pollutes the environment, or can affect the culture of the Myanmar people in an adverse way – will not be permitted.
As usual there are exceptions. If for example the relevant ministry felt that it is in the best interest of the Myanmar people to open that sector to foreign capital, technology and competition – it will call for an open tender and all foreign investors with the right qualifications can participate by bidding for a licence.
Altogether there are 21 economic activities that are listed in the prohibition list. If you want to know more please do contact me.
Slide 13
This list stipulates the industries that foreign investors can participate only if they joint venture with a local Myanmar citizen. There are a lot of goodies in this list but in order to invest in it you need to partner a local citizen.
I am going to jump to the next slide and show some snapshots of the opportunities in this list.
Slide 14
So if you want to manufacture and market consumer food products such as biscuits, wafers, chocolate, canned food and alcoholic beverages you need to joint venture with a local citizen.
If you want to open an international resort golf course – you need to partner a local.
You want to open a real estate business and get involved in sales, lease or rental of residential or commercial property – you need to partner a local.
Slide 15
Do take note that under the Foreign Investment Law – foreign investors must own at least 35% of the total share capital in the joint venture. Unless otherwise stated foreign investors can own up to 80% of total share capital in restricted industries i.e. you will be the controlling shareholder.
This is very significant because many of the opportunities in this list you can get by with an investment of between US$ 2-10 mil and this is an amount that many investors can afford. Most important you will be the majority shareholder. At the same time it is also an opportunity for the small and medium enterprises in Myanmar that have the experience, to participate in the JV and learn from the foreign investors.
Do take note that what I am showing you just is a selection of the more interesting opportunities on the list. There is a total of 42 business opportunities listed in this list. If you want to know more please do contact me.
Slide 16
This is the list of activities that are permitted only with the recommendation of the relevant ministry.
Under the auspices of the Ministry of Industry – one opportunity you can look at is the manufacturing of cigarette. At least 90% of the production must be exported and at least 45% of tobacco must be sourced locally in Myanmar.
Not many people is aware that Myanmar has deposits of rare earth like Xenotine, Monazite, Columbite and Tantalite. Rare earths are vital for the manufacture of smart phones and hybrid cars. Currently China controls 95% of the rare earth trade in the world. There are opportunities here for mining companies who are familiar with the rare earth market to propose to the Myanmar government some sort of JV arrangements.
Under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism – if you want to open a Wellness Spa you can do so in a hotel that is 3-star and above.

But much more interesting is the casino business targeted only at foreigners. To operate a casino first you must find a restricted area of the country whereby it is easy for international tourists to access the casino and yet is not easy for Myanmar people to access. You must first get approval of the Ministry of Tourism and then the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Now let’s look at the map of Myanmar and see where can you find such a place?
Slide 17
Now this is the map of Southern Myanmar. The lighter shade is Myanmar the darker shade is Thailand. This is Yangon here, this is Bangkok and towards the South just off this map is Phuket.
And this is the Mergui Archipelago. This is a group of 800 mostly uninhabited islands.
There are around 2,000 sea gypsies that live on some of the islands, most of them are fishermen.
You will find pristine islands with crystal clear water there.
Excellent reef can be found around the islands.
Phuket in the south is like 200 km away and Bangkok is 400 km away in the north east.
So what is life like on these remote tropical islands? Now I am going to quickly run through a few snap shots to give you a flavour of what life is like on these islands.
Slide 18
On Land this is what you will find.
Slide 19
On Water this is what you will find
Slide 20
In the Water there are rich marine life around the island
Slide 21
The Mergui Archipelago is remote and mostly unpopulated save for some fishermen. You will no have problem controlling access of Myanmar people going to the island – so it will be easy for you to convince the Ministry of Home Affairs to allow you to open a casino resort on it.
The Mergui Archipelago is like what Phuket was 50 years ago before it became the vacation island of choice for many Western tourists.
If Thailand can receive 22 million tourists in year 2012. Is it possible to attract just half a million tourist to a group of island resorts in Mergui Archipelago? A high-speed ferry from Phuket could reach Mergui in 3 hours and a flight from Bangkok take less than an hour.
Of course to exploit this island casino resort opportunity you need to have very significant capital and also experience in running a casino.
Take note that there are altogether 115 business opportunities listed in this list requiring Recommendations from the various ministries. If you want to know more please do contact me.
Slide 22
This list stipulates the activities that are permitted if foreign investors meet certain conditions that have already been set by the relevant ministry. That means that if you meet these conditions you do not have to go through a lengthy process of submitting proposal to the relevant ministry without knowing what the outcome will be.
You can read this list at your own leisure – I am going to jump to the next slide and show some snapshots of the opportunity listed here.
Slide 23
If you want to setup a 100% foreign owned hotel – you can do so if you invest in a 3 star hotel and above.
If you own the master franchise for Asia for say Subway Sandwich – you can open a branch in Myanmar and be a franchisor there. Take note that foreigner can only be the franchisor they cannot be the franchisee – only Myanmar people can be the franchisee.
If you want to open chain store to sell for example European fine food such as wine, sausage or cheese – the store must be 2,000 to 4,000 sq ft in size and you need to submit a plan as to how many stores you intend to open within the term of your company licence.
If you want to invest in retail stores – take note that it must be a joint venture with a local citizen with the local holding at least 40% share. You can only invest in big retail format like Supermarket, Department Store or Hypermarket.
Slide 24
Investment in retail property development in Myanmar is something you should seriously look at if you have experience in this area – as the retail market is under developed in Myanmar.
Take for example the supermarket scene in Myanmar. It is very fragmented and undeveloped. Most supermarket chain are small like 2 to 3 outlets and are family owned that are focus mainly in Yangon. Store design and merchandising are very traditional. Emphasis is on selling low price daily necessities.
There is only 1 strong player in this market and that is City Mart.
Slide 25
City Mart has over 48 outlets in Yangon.[48 outlets includes all retail formats such as supermarket; hypermarket, pharmacy; bakery, book & music; baby care, etc] City Mart runs its own drug stores and bakery café next to its supermarket.
It is good by Myanmar standard but by Western standard it is just an average supermarket that you would expect in your neighborhood.
There is opportunity to open more Western style supermarkets not just in Yangon but in major cities outside Yangon.
There is also opportunities for foreign investor to open hypermarket with big parking facilities in the suburbs of Yangon or Mandalay, selling an assortment of international branded consumer goods and services. As most of the middle-upper class Myanmar families send their children to private schools and then to Singapore, Australia or UK for their education – they are used to shopping from the Carrefour or Walmart of the world.
Now altogether there are 27 business opportunities in this list requiring the investor to meet certain conditions. If you want to know more please do contact me.
Slide 26
NOW that we have seen the reserved sector and we have also seen what are the restricted industries that foreign investors can invest in – it is important that we realized that for the average investors with a budget of 2 to 10 million dollar US – the restricted industry is probably the best area to focus on.
As the capital required is more affordable; the market entry requirements are simpler as it is clearly spelt out by the government. Foreign investor can own up to 80% of the JV company. But most important by highlighting these industries in their Restricted Industry List and making the rule of engagement more transparent – the Myanmar government is encouraging investment in these industries.
Slide 27
We have come to the end of Part 1 video. Please proceed to the next video entitled “Myanmar Company Incorporation – What you should know”.
Slide 28
My last slide. I would like to let you know that Consult-Myanmar Company Limited is a 100% foreign owned company that is incorporated in Myanmar. We are a member of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
If you have any questions about the market opportunities that I have just covered in my presentation – please do send me an email . Or you can visit our website.
Before we part, I would like to wish you a fruitful and profitable investment experience in Myanmar.
Bye Bye and see you in the next video. We welcome delegates of the World Economic Forum East Asia to Naypyitaw, 5th to 7th June 2013

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