YANGON: Channel NewsAsia held its Business Insights Seminar in Yangon on Thursday as part of the official launch of its Yangon bureau.
Participants agreed that laws in Myanmar are still vague and uncertain, despite progress made in the legal environment.
But many are still optimistic about the business opportunities the country has to offer.
Launching Channel NewsAsia’s 13th bureau in Yangon, the office joins others in cities like Jakarta, Shanghai and Tokyo.
The Business Insights Seminar at the launch highlighted the progress and challenges of Myanmar’s reform process.
One challenging sector is the country’s legal framework.
William Greenlee, Myanmar partner at DFDL Legal & Tax, said: “These laws are somewhat contradictory, sometimes to some of the other laws, the older laws.
“The newer laws are also somewhat vague, and then you have practice as well. Many of the ministries aren’t necessarily familiar with the details of these new laws and how to implement them.”
So international firms keen on entering the Myanmar market should have a high appetite for risk.
Melvyn Pun, chief executive officer at Serge Pun & Associates, said: “Obviously, we’re very mindful that we cannot be over optimistic and we’re very mindful that there will be many bumps on the road.
“For us, it’s very important… to understand that there’s a very good intention by the government to really provide long-term reforms that are sustainable.
“We’re trying to open up the economy, provide a level playing field for international as well as local companies but at the same time, maintain a local identity, maintain a local economy so that local companies can grow and participate in this growth.”
The forum allowed participants to discuss as well as to share views on the changing business environment in Myanmar.
Many are in agreement that there are still gaps to be plugged, such as the need to improve human capacity as well as beefing up the rules and regulations governing the corporations in the country.
But many are also of the view that the government is well aware of these gaps and are committed to plug them with resolve.
The Myanmar government is also determined to improve the media landscape.
It hopes that international news agencies such as Channel NewsAsia can contribute to the industry’s development.
Myanmar’s Deputy Information Minister and Presidential Spokesperson Ye Htut said: “You can share your experience, you can share your knowledge, (and) you can share your professionalism with our local journalists.
“And also you can cover the success and challenges of our reform process in a fair and balanced manner, and… you can help the international community to understand the complexity of social, political and economic reform in our country.
“For Channel NewsAsia, Channel NewsAsia is the first among the ASEAN countries to open a news bureau in our country.
“Channel NewsAsia which hopes to create the voice of Asia, can cover the Myanmar news with the ASEAN perspective. This is most important during the time of the Myanmar’s ASEAN chairmanship.”
With its base in Myanmar, Channel NewsAsia aims to document the growth of the country.
Debra Soon, Channel NewsAsia’s managing director, said: “To be frank, covering Myanmar over the last decade has been far from easy.
“We strove to do so because we believe that Myanmar is an important part of Asia and of the world. Our new bureau will allow us to do primary reporting daily of what’s happening here in Myanmar. ”
The channel aims to improve its content and reach beyond the current 200,000 households in Myanmar.
Source: Channel News Asia