Myanmar region woos French FDI

Myanmar’s underdeveloped Tanintharyi region bordering Kanchanaburi province plans to attract European investment mainly from French companies in the months to come, according to Phyo Win Tun, planning and finance minister of the Tanintharyi region government.

“At the regional government, we frequently receive business delegations from Europe, including France, Italy, Czech as well as from other countries such as Canada, Japan, China and Thailand,” he said.

Earlier this month, the authorities received a trade delegation of 12 French companies led by French Ambassador Olivier Richard. The delegation included senior executives from famous French companies with expertise in energy, construction and fisheries sectors as well as representatives from the France-Myanmar Chamber of Commerce, the French Development Agency and the economic and trade sections of the Embassy.

Phyo Win Tun said the regional authorities were pleased to have fruitful discussions with such big names as Total, Artelia Group, Byma, Engie Group, Schneider Electric, Suez Consulting and Tractebel Group.

According to the regional minister, the French delegation held several meetings with Tanintharyi’s Chief Minister Lae Lae Maw, the Dawei Special Economic Zone Management Committee, regional office of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) and the Tanintharyi Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to discuss about prospects for future investments by French companies in the region.

“It is the first official visit to our region by a French business delegation during the National League for Democracy government term. Obviously, we can see their enthusiasm to invest here and to trade with the local business community,” he said.

“Details about the business cooperation and potential investments have yet to finalise. We have planned to meet again later this year.”

He foresees French investments in mining and natural gas over the next few years, as Tanintharyi is a resources-rich region. French companies have also shown their interest in the Dawei Special Economic Zone, which is planned for revival during the first half of this year.

The French delegation visited Kanbauk to tour the existing infrastructure and Total’s corporate social responsibility activities implemented in the region and to learn more about the planned LNG-to-power project. Following the approval in January 2018 of a major 1,230-megawatt project in Kanbauk by Total, the commercial and trade relations between Tanintharyi Region and France will definitely expand in the coming years, he said.

Ye Htut Naing, president of Tanintharyi Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said French companies should invest in major areas needed for regional development, notably tourism, agribusiness, rubber production, mining and fisheries. “Thanks to their three-day visit, we managed to establish a good relationship with French businesses. Getting connected is the very first step of bilateral economic ties. We believe many business deals will follow later,” he said.

According to the chamber chief, local businesses are looking for foreign partners in agriculture and tourism sectors, particularly to produce value-added rubber products and to open luxury hotels and resorts near the region’s tourist attractions such as Myeik archipelagos and 9 Shin pagodas.

“Tourism is undoubtedly the most promising sector for regional development. For example, during the recent Thingyan Festival, all the hotels and guesthouses here were fully occupied, and even monasteries could no longer accept more guests because they were packed with local travellers. So, we need a lot of hotel rooms here,” he said.

He urged the government to encourage investments in the hospitality sector with proper land laws. He suggested that the regional government should frequently meet with the business community to help address ongoing challenges.

Aung Naing Oo, director-general of DICA, foresees more French investments in power generation. According to the statistics, Myanmar has approved 20 French firms to invest nearly US$550 million, as of March 31, 2018.

Source: The Nation

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