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Singapore Businesses see Myanmar as ‘Potential Gold Mine’

Myanmar is a “potential gold mine” and the “last frontier for” investors despite its low ranking in ease of doing business, said a Singaporean investor at a business to business matchmaking event in early November.

MyanmarBizConnect Group, a local business matchmaking group, the Singapore’s Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) and Malaysia’s RHB Bank held the ASME Myanmar Mission Investor Insights event at a hotel in Yangon on November 7.

The event was attended by local and foreign businesspeople and officials including former economic adviser to the President U Aung Tun Thet, Deputy Director General of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration Daw Tin Aye Han, and President of the Singapore Association of Myanmar Leong Lee Seng.

“This is the second time we have held this matchmaking event. The first was in Lotte Hotel which saw 42 delegates from 20 sectors. This year, we have businesses from 13 fields.

The delegates who come here differ each year, said Diana Win, founder and chair of MyanmarBizConnect Group and managing director of Royal Queen Consulting in Singapore.

“And, I’m overjoyed by the fact, that one way or another, the delegates gained connections and opportunities from our B2B matching event,” she added.

After the Myanmar government opened up its economy in 2012, the country became a hotspot for foreign investors. Singapore has the largest FDI in Myanmar for 2019 overtaking China, date from the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations showed.

“There’s no doubt that Myanmar is a future investment destination. The potential is great. In fact, I do agree with the first speaker, U Aung Tun Thet that we need to have faith in this market. It’s a potential goldmine and last frontier,” said Peter from A&B films, a window film installer and applicator based in Singapore.

The Myanmar economy is projected to grow by 6.6 percent in 2020, according to the World Bank’s 2019 report, and it will further increase to 6.7pc in 2021 and 6.8pc in 2022.

“Our country’s geographic location is at a very strategic position between China and India. We are also China’s backdoor. So, if the political situation is stable, many investments will be entering,” said a local senior businessman from a Yangon-based cargo consolidators. Due to the Rakhine crisis and weaknesses in the banking sector, the International Monetary Fund’s country report published in April, stated that Myanmar economy’s “appears to be losing momentum”.

Myanmar has however jumped six places in the latest Ease of Doing Business index from 171st out of 190 countries in 2019 to 165th in 2020.

“All these are just studies from the top. We who are working on the ground can feel that it’s not that bad. You see, every study conducted is usually from the top-down, rarely from the bottom-up so we are working from the ground, day-to-day businesses. So, for the ease of doing business, you’ll really have to go to the SMEs,” said an official with an industrial films company.

“I think in Myanmar it’s gradually getting better compared to eight years ago when I came here. I still feel that there are still some things holding back the whole market. Maybe it’s the foreign direct investments that are not trickling down to the middle market.

We need a good marketing class in order to have good spending power. I feel that the money has not flow down to the working class yet,” he continued.

Another Singaporean businessperson from an engineering solutions company said that the company is looking for expand its business in Myanmar because as the income of the country’s population grows the market for quality products will also grow.

“Our country is seeing many changes and we experience new things. When I come back to Myanmar I would see new things every month. So, I strongly believe and am confident that positive things will come for the Myanmar economy,” said Win.

“Singaporeans are familiar with the Myanmar market. For Myanmar, Singapore as a brand is trusted and their quality reassures them compared with products from other countries. As Singapore investors expand their businesses, Myanmar consumers and business owners will receive good quality products and services as well other positive effects.”

Source: The Myanmar Times

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