Singapore leads as foreign investment in Myanmar doubles

Foreign investment in Myanmar nearly doubled last year compared to the previous year, it was announced yesterday. Overseas investors poured more than US$8 billion into the country, creating 150,000 jobs, said the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA).

More than half that figure, $4.3 billion, came from Singapore alone. A total of 223 projects garnered $8.01 billion in the financial year just ended, the highest annual figure since the $20 billion that gushed into the country to fund heavy hydropower projects in 2010-2011, as Myanmar began its economic and political reform process.

Nearly 35 percent of the 2014-2015 investment, or $3.2 billion, went into the oil and gas sector, while manufacturing and telecoms received another 35pc. Real estate received nearly $800 million, and hotels and tourism $357 million.

“This shows that the country’s goal of becoming a middle-income country within 15 years can be met,” said secretary of the Myanmar Investment Commission U Aung Naing Oo.

“The investment was distributed among a wide range of businesses, from important infrastructure like the telecoms and constructions sectors to manufacturing and tourism. This is strong evidence of the country’s economic prospects,” he added. U Aung Naing Oo is also the director general of DICA.

The Myanmar Investment Commission aimed to attract $5 billion in FDI last year by promoting the manufacturing sector to create more jobs. The investment in manufacturing last year alone was equal to the total investment of 2012-2013.

“I think investors are becoming more confident in investing in the country as our economic prospects improve under a strong legal infrastructure. We have made many bilateral agreements with the United States, Japan and European Union members,” said U Aung Naing Oo.

Several international organisations, including the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Asia Development Bank, are setting their sights on 2030 as the year that Myanmar becomes a middle-income country. ADB’s Outlook 2015 study estimates the country’s economic growth as 8.3pc this year and 8.2pc in 2016-17.

“Better prospects in neighbouring India and Thailand and further afield in the major industrial economies support the outlook for Myanmar but are partly offset by a slowdown in China,” ADB said in the report.

Other investors last year included Hong Kong, with $625 million, and China, which put $500 million in hydropower projects.

U Aung Thura, chief executive of Thura Swiss Research and Consulting, is confident that foreign investment will increase over the long term but cautions that investors will closely watch the outcome of parliamentary elections in November.

“The outlook for Myanmar to become a middle income country in 2030 can also come true if the country has an annual growth rate of about 7pc for 15 consecutive years … To have this annual growth rate is not difficult for the country,” he said.

Source: Myanmar Times

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