YANGON — Bangkok Bank was among nine foreign banks awarded licences Wednesday to operate in the country as part of its economic-reform plan.
The Central Bank said Bangkok Bank and Japan’s three largest banks – Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. and Mizuho Bank – were among those that won licences for limited operations. Others include China’s Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Singapore’s Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp and United Overseas Bank, Malaysia’s Malayan Banking Berhard (Maybank), and Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) Banking Group Ltd.
The lenders are among foreign companies seeking to gain a foothold in Myanmar as the nation reconnects with the global economy following 50 years of military rule. Myanmar’s economy is projected by the World Bank to grow 7.8% this year, faster than the 4.8% predicted for developing nations, Bloomberg News said.
The preliminary licences are good for 12 months. During that period, the lenders will have to satisfy commitments they made in their requests for licences, demonstrate functional banking operations and comply with other requirements from the Central Bank of Myanmar, Myanmar’s foreign bank licensing committee said. If they are able to meet these criteria, the central bank will grant the final licence.
The banks will be allowed to operate just one branch and cannot engage in retail banking. They can only lend to foreign investors in foreign currencies, not the local kyat, unless they partner with a local bank.
Kyodo News said the three Japanese banks will prepare to open branches in the country and offer remittance and other services to Japanese firms operating there.
Foreign banks were nationalized in 1962 by the then-military regime.
After years of international isolation under military rule, the Southeast Asian country made a transition to democratic government in 2011 and its economy is growing rapidly. As a result, an increasing number of foreign firms have begun investing in Myanmar.
The Southeast Asian nation signed a foreign investment bill in 2012 to woo more interest from overseas corporations. The same year, the US started easing economic sanctions against Myanmar after President Thein Sein began a democratic process that elected opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament after 15 years of house arrest.
Source: Bangkok Post