State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently in Singapore, delivered a keynote speech at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit-2018 in Singapore yesterday evening.
It was attended by members of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council-ABAC, economists, businessmen and guests.
In her speech, she invited foreign investors to invest in the country’s priority sectors including agriculture and its related services, value-added production of agricultural products, livestock production, breeding and production of fishery products, export promotion industries, import substitution industries, power sector, logistic industries, education services, health care industry, construction of affordable housing and establishment of industrial estates.
This is the second time I have taken part in this event, which provides an excellent platform for the promotion of business and investment in Myanmar and ASEAN at large. The theme of my speech will be simply, “Business and Investment in Myanmar and ASEAN”. I would like to start with some background information on Myanmar’s Economy. The 12-point National Economic Policy of the Myanmar Government aims at fostering sustainable development in our country, development that is inclusive and people-centered. Our investment policy supports the implementation of our National Economic Policy and national economic development.
Reform measures have been undertaken to create a more attractive, investor-friendly environment in Myanmar. As you are perhaps aware, The new Myanmar Investment Law was promulgated by the Union Legislature on 18th October 2016 to create a better environment for investment and to bring our economy in line with international and regional agreements, with the technical assistance of the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The new law aims at creating a fair and more level playing field for both foreign and domestic investors.
The new Myanmar Investment Law contains a number of important provisions that will encourage responsible business, support investors to do business with ease, through transparent, simplified and quick procedures. A permit from the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) will not be required for every investment project; it is guaranteed that investments will not be expropriated directly or indirectly; income tax exemptions will be granted according to zones and promoted areas; the development gap between the States and Regions will be reduced through power delegation and the establishment of a grievance system.
Subsequent rules were prescribed on 30 March 2017 and the law came into effect on 1 April 2017.
The new Companies Law to provide greater flexibility for operating businesses
Reforms have been undertaken in every sector throughout Myanmar. Some are highly visible, some are less obvious. Reforms that seek to strengthen macroeconomic management are absolutely essential for economic stability which, in turn, is a strong magnet for attracting increased investment. Such reforms are not naturally visible to most people, but their impact is substantial and longlasting.
An important recent reform which can be considered “revolutionary” is the modernization of the more than one hundred years old Companies Act to reflect the current business and regulatory environment. The Myanmar Companies Law was enacted on 6 December 2017. It came into effect on 1st August 2018 with the implementation of the electronic registry. As a result of the electronic registry, companies can be registered in Myanmar within a few hours by using the MyCO (Myanmar Companies Online) system. The new Companies Law has transformed Myanmar’s corporate landscape and will make it easier for businesses to be registered as companies. It will provide greater flexibility for companies in their conduct of business and the management of their internal affairs, while at the same time ensuring certainty and stability in corporate regulation.
It will also do much to improve the “starting business ranking” which is a main indicator of the “doing business ranking” of Myanmar. Up to now, as of September 2018, over 14,000 companies are reregistered in our online platform and over 4,000 companies are newly incorporated.
Simple, clear and predictable Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
The Myanmar Investment Commission has been re-organized with a new management team led by Union Minister U Thaung Tun. The new MIC team is now reviewing all processes not only within the MIC itself but also within other government agencies with a view to streamlining and then establishing simple, clear and predictable Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
We anticipate that this exercise will contribute to the development of a single window system for use by all investors and businesses who may or may not be registered under the MIC. Such a single window system will go a long way toward addressing impediments faced by investors while at the same time, allow us to provide them with not only pre-investment, but also post-investment, services.
The main purpose of this procedural streamlining, SOP development and single window system creation is to advance not only a favorable but also a predictable, facilitative and friendly investment environment.
Another success story which highlights the type of positive partnership that can be achieved between our respective public and private sectors is the Thilawa SEZ. I am happy to be able to claim that the Thilawa SEZ has become a crowning success in a very short period of time, receiving a total investment of USD 1.491 billion, a figure that reflects the dollar value of those investments actually entering the economy. Investors from countries such as Japan, the United States, Germany, France, Sweden, Australia, China, India, Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan have invested in the Thilawa SEZ, and there are many more eager to invest in Thilawa SEZ Zone B.
Myanmar’s markets is now in full swing.
Myanmar’s re-emergence comes at a time when the world is facing rising protectionist sentiments, a shift away from multilateralism in favour of bilateralism, and in some cases, even isolationism, and amidst currency and trade tensions between some countries.
Unlike ten years ago, today, Myanmar is exposed to these global macroeconomic shifts in ways never before experienced. Luckily, despite global challenges, the growth outlook for developing Asia in 2018 was recently upgraded to 6 percent, or 0.1 percentage points higher than the rate envisaged in September 2017 by the Asian Development Bank. As part of this developing Asia, Myanmar’s economic trajectory is therefore truly promising.
The opening of Myanmar’s markets is now in full swing. As what has been referred to as Southeast Asia’s final frontier market, Myanmar provides innumerable investment opportunities. Some are plain to see, others are waiting to be found by those with foresight and imagination.
I would like to turn now towards ASEAN business and investments. We, ASEAN Member States are holding together and marching forward to reach our goal with one vision and one identity as one community. For Myanmar, ASEAN plays an important role for economic cooperation. As of September 2018, investments from ASEAN account for about 45 % (US$ 35,507.349 million) of total investments in Myanmar, demonstrating the strong economic ties between our country and other ASEAN Member States.
As we all know, the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA) has been signed and investors from ASEAN countries can now enjoy the incentives provided under the terms of the Agreement. The ASEAN-India, ASEAN-China, ASEAN-Korea, ASEAN-Hong Kong investment agreements and the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement have also been signed, and these agreements will bring new benefits for our member states.
I strongly believe that by working together, we will enjoy greater efficiency, productivity, and profits and that better jobs will be created as a result of the global value chains.
I would like to take this opportunity to welcome our ASEAN friends to invest in Myanmar, in such priority sectors as agriculture and its related services, value-added production of agricultural products, livestock production, breeding and production of fishery products, export promotion industries, import substitution industries, power sector, logistic industries, education services, health care industry, construction of affordable housing and establishment of industrial estates.
Investing in Myanmar will bring good returns to us, and to you
As many are aware, private sector development is crucial for the economic development of a country and Myanmar recognizes the importance of promoting the private sector. The Private Sector Development Committee led by Vice-President (1) meets with private investors every month and brings them together with officials from relevant ministries.
A Working Group on improving the Ease of Doing Business Ranking and ten supporting groups related to Ease of Doing Business indicators have also been established with the aim of raising Myanmar’s ranking in the ease of doing business index of the World Bank.
Let me conclude by saying that I am confident that investing in Myanmar will bring good returns to us, and to you.—MNA