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Interest in retail, wholesale sector continues unabated

Two years after the Myanmar Investment Commission’s announcement, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) has permitted nine wholly foreign retail and wholesale providers to operate in the country. These include investors from Japan, Thailand, US, Singapore, and the Netherlands.

The nine non-Myanmar companies are able to secure a green light from the authorities since the government moved to partially open up the retail and wholesale market two years ago. The Myanmar Investment Commission issued the List of Restricted Activities No. 15/2017 in April 2017, which allowed foreign businesses to invest in retail and wholesale without restriction. It then took the commerce ministry over one year to follow up with a Directive.

They include Mycare Unicharm Co, Otsuka Pharmaceutical, DKSH, Toyota Tsusho, Unilever, Mega Lifesciences and NTT Com Myanmar, which is the latest entity to receive an MOC permit.

The products offered range from baby products and cosmetics to beverages like Pocari Sweat.

Meanwhile, five joint ventures between Thai, Japanese, Dutch and Singaporean firms and local investors have also received permits to operate. Among them are Pacific Andaman (SEA), AEON Orange, Asahi Loi Hein, Unilever EAC Myanmar and Wilmar Myanmar Edible Oils.

The new firms will join an industry with just four local operators: City Mart Holdings, Myanmar Agribusiness Public Corporation, Myanmar R F S Company, and NCX Myanmar.

Many investors come and discussed retail and wholesale business in our office. Also, Myanmar Investment Commission has received interests and some proposals from foreign investors to invest in the domestic market. Continually, the Commission will allow them by the rema of related ministry and under Myanmar Investment Law.

“We are seeing strong interest from investors in the retail and wholesale sector. Many have come to discuss details at our office. The Myanmar Investment Commission has also received proposals from foreign investors. They will be permitted to operate under the Myanmar Investment Law,” said U Thant Sin Lwin, Acting Director General of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration.

In April, the Myanmar Retailers Association submitted a list of challenges faced by local retailers and wholesalers in the domestic market to the Private Sector Development Committee led by Vice President U Myint Swe.

These included capital constraints and prohibitively high land prices. Local businesses also called for the government to maintain a level playing field for both local and foreign businesses.

The government allowed foreign investors to operate retail and wholesale business in the domestic market in May 2018. It subsequently announced standard operating procedure for the sector and issued a priority list of 24 products and items.

Source: Myanmar Times

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