Soaring rent, limited infrastructure and skilled workers blocking investment

The high cost of living and rent, plus limited infrastructure and skilled workers are the major negative factors that deter potential investors, according to the American Chamber of Commerce.

Dr Soe Htun, a businessman, explained: “Insufficient infrastructure and buildings lead to high cost of living. This burdens investors, both local and foreign. The government should tackle this situation immediately. Likewise, the limited number of skilled workers is also a problem. This can be resolved by providing career development training in colleges and universities.”

In July, rental fees for offices in Sakura Tower – the commercial centre in downtown Yangon – increased, and made it the third most expensive office building in the world.

Rents in the Sakura Tower are three to four times higher than those in regional countries including Thailand, according to figures from Cushman & Wakefield Research. With total office space of 12,425 square metres, rental fees could reap at least US$13 million a year.

“This is because demand outweighs the supply and has failed to maintain an equilibrium,” a business owner in Yangon said. “Investors have complained about scanty resources, expensive rents, corruption in law and order, shortage of electricity, etc. As more new buildings are underway, rental fees will decrease in next two or three years, I hope.”

At present, many big businesses in the US are considering opening branches in Myanmar as the Asean Economic Community draws nearer. However, many may opt to wait till rental fees drop to more moderate levels and infrastructure improves.


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