Foreign banks optimistic about economic integration

Executives of two foreign banks expressed optimism that Myanmar would attract more investment as long as it maintains the speed at which it is integrating with other countries in the region.

Go Watanabe, managing executive officer and CEO for Asia and Oceania of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, said the Asean Economic Community (AEC) can deepen economic cooperation by making Asean more dynamic and competitive.

At a forum held last week to educate local businesses on regional integration, Watanabe noted that like the rest of Asia’s economies, Myanmar is expected to draw much investor interest from both Asian and global multi-national corporations.

“Myanmar will be able to tap opportunities for regional trade once its infrastructure and economy develops further. Although Myanmar is experiencing a rapid rise, it will take time for the effects to come to fruition. But the country will start to gain as a result of more integrated markets,” he said.

To Watanabe, Myanmar’s openness to foreign investment as well as banking and finance reforms is welcome.

“It means we can contribute a lot more to the development of the economy and its financial infrastructure, such as providing extra sources of funding for the country to develop and prosper. And we want to be part of this growth story,” he said.

Ian Wong, managing director for group strategy and international management of United Overseas Bank (OUB), echoed Watanabe’s view.

“The opening of our Yangon branch will give us the opportunity to work more closely with the Central Bank of Myanmar and local banks to provide our regional clients with local and cross-border banking solutions as they invest and expand their operations in Myanmar,” he said.

Wong said UOB will share its expertise with the local banking industry and support the development of future banking talents. As part of helping businesses invest in Myanmar, UOB established a Foreign Direct Investment Advisory Unit in Myanmar.

According to UOB’s Asian Enterprise Survey 2014, one in four Asian enterprises plan to expand into Myanmar this year, making Myanmar one of the region’s top investment destinations. One-third of businesses from Hong Kong (31 per cent) said they would expand into Myanmar in 2015, followed by those in Thailand (28 per cent), the People’s Republic of China (26 per cent), Malaysia (25 per cent) and Singapore (21 per cent). Businesses in the automotive (44 per cent), food and beverage (39 per cent), information technology (33 per cent), shipping (33 per cent) and logistics (30 per cent) sectors were among the top companies looking to expand into Myanmar to fuel their next stage of growth.

“To build a strong foundation for the country’s long-term economic growth, Myanmar will need to attract ongoing investment in infrastructure, manufacturing, communication and education. Companies specialising in these areas have an opportunity to be part of Myanmar’s economic transformation by investing early and we are keen to support them. FDI will create more jobs and boost income. This, in turn, will open the doors for new business opportunities,” said Wong.

Source: The Nation

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