American chamber gets ready for business

The American Chamber of Commerce in Myanmar no longer operates under the auspices of its Thai counterpart and has now scaled up its permanent team in Yangon.

AmCham Myanmar, established in October 2013, has more than 170 members, which employ over 6,000 Myanmar nationals in total. It seeks to connect American business in Myanmar by encouraging partnerships and promoting high business standards. Until 2017, AmCham Myanmar operated as a Myanmar chapter under AmCham Thailand, with administration managed from Bangkok and only one staff on the ground in Myanmar.

In September last year, AmCham Myanmar was officially registered with the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) as a non-profit association. Subsequently, Zara Dang became the executive director, a new 11-member board of governors was elected by the membership and the organisation has moved into its new permanent office in Sule Square.

AmCham seeks to scale up engagement with its member businesses through new committees and to proactively engage with the Myanmar government.

In addition to chamber services, the organisation runs a scholarship programme and a corporate social responsibility award. The scholarship programme was founded in 2014 and funds 35 disadvantaged but outstanding Myanmar students from the University of Yangon with financial support to complete their undergraduate studies.

It is not an easy time for US businesses in the country. Last week, Yangon-based Herzfeld Rubin Meyer & Rose Law Firm Limited (HRMR), the Myanmar office affiliate of the New York-based international Law Firm Herzfeld & Rubin PC (H&R), announced that it would close its Yangon office by the end of this month. Eric Rose, the firm’s lead director, attributed H&R’s exit to three reasons – the remaining US sanctions, the Rakhine crisis making the reputational issue untenable for most publicly traded companies and smaller businesses, as well as the inactivity of Nay Pyi Taw which has stalled reforms of the protectionist policies under the old administration.

But the American Chamber leadership is much more upbeat.

AmCham President Rehan Khan said that the chamber “believes in the future economic growth opportunities” in Myanmar. Last December, the board appointed Mr Khan as the president. He is the general manager of Coca-Cola Myanmar.

“Bringing a new executive director on board and investing in a permanent office space is part of AmCham Myanmar’s continued commitment to serve American businesses in Myanmar. AmCham Myanmar believes in the future economic growth opportunities in this country and will be here to support our members for the long-term,” he said.

Mark Hardcastle, vice president, stressed that the chamber plans to prioritise advocacy and “engage constructively” with Nay Pyi Taw.

Source: Myanmar Times

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