LAST month, Burma’s (Myanmar) de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi implored foreign investors to take a punt on her country, amid international criticisms for her handling of the crisis involving her country’s Rohingya minority.
After touring Asia in recent months to drum up support for her country’s economy, several parties have reportedly begun showing interest in pouring more funds in Southeast Asia’s “Final Frontier”, as Suu Kyi puts it.
This comes as the World Bank predicts a seven percent growth of Burma’s economy next year and despite a tangle of investment laws, flailing currency and widespread conflicts and corruption tainting the country’s reputation ever since Suu Kyi’s civilian government took over Juna rule in 2016.
Last week, several Hong Kong companies said they were looking for investment opportunities in Burma, especially in infrastructure and logistics support.
Stephen Liang, executive director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council said this while leading a trade mission of 37 executives from 27 companies in Yangon from Nov 25 to 28.
“We are very much looking forward to more incentives for Hong Kong companies and are keen to look for investment opportunities, particularly to strengthen factory capability and support,” Liang said, as quoted by the Myanmar Times.
The council pointed out that Burma is Hong Kong’s eighth-largest export market and import source among Southeast Asian countries. Just last year, Hong Kong exported US$290 million in merchandise to Burma and imported US$89.9 million worth of Burmese products.
After China, Singapore and Thailand, Hong Kong is the fourth biggest investor in Burma.
“Myanmar exports a lot of agricultural products. At the same time, it is developing its manufacturing capacity, in which Hong Kong can help, with its professional expertise in engineering, project management and consultancy, in exchange for Myanmar products,” Liang said.
The mission he led were interested in the garments and footwear sector, driven by Burma’s abundant supply of low-cost workers and improving business conditions, as well as industrial infrastructure and logistics support.
“A lot of Hong Kong companies are interested in hotel projects in ASEAN countries and Myanmar is a very interesting and attractive country for tourism,” he said.
Meanwhile, Burma’s Minister of Planning and Finance U Soe announced the launching of the country’s Project Bank of Public Investment Programmes that would facilitate major infrastructure projects from the States and Regions.
Established under the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (MSDP), the bank looks to provide funding for infrastruture projects deemed commercially viable which would be financed by public private partnerships.
“Currently, Myanmar still lacks basic infrastructure. If this gap is addressed, the country will be better positioned to fulfill its development goals,” U Soe Win said recently.