Thailand’s investment forays into Myanmar

  • By Kyaw Htike Soe
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The No. 1 entrance gate of Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ).  Photo: Ye Htut Tin (NLM)

Thailand is one of the largest foreign investors in Myanmar and more Thai companies are expected to invest in the Asia’s last frontier market in the years to come. In an attempt to lure more investments from Thailand, Myanmar representatives from the line ministries including the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations and the Ministry of Planning and Finance organized aseminar headlined, “Myanmar Insight 2019” at Centara Grand Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand on 23 August.
The event aimed at providingan update on Myanmar’s economic situation, current policies, and laws as well as introducing Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (MSDP) and the Project Bank was attended by around 700 businessmen from Myanmar and Thailand. With a view to creating better opportunities for foreign investors, Myanmar government is taking part in regional connectivity initiative so as to enhance bilateral relations with neighbouring countries and encourage investment and trade. Myanmar has undertaken a number of significant reforms in various sectors with the intention of creating new opportunities for foreign investors including those from Thailand, said State Counsellor Daw Aung San SuuKyi in her video message to the seminar.Promoting accountable and responsible investments enables the governments to establish better societies, the State Counsellor said.

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Thailand — Myanmar SCI Metal Tech Co., Ltd., Steel Structure Manufacturing Industry, being seen at Thilawa Special Economic Zone on 22 September, 2019.  Photo: YeHtut Tin (NLM)

Thai businessmen are very keen to expand their businesses in the areas of automobile spare part manufacturing, retail and wholesale business, foodstuff production and industry sector, according to the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations.“Thailand has a leading role in regionalautomotiveindustry. Some companies from Japan, Korea and China set up the automobile manufacturing and assembly factories in Myanmar. I believe that Thai companies will be able to take opportunities to establish car production and assembly factories in Myanmar, said Union Minister for Investment and Foreign Economic Relations U ThaungTun at the business forum.The Union Minister highlighted that Myanmar’s GDP increased to more than US$ 71 billion in 2018 from US$ 8.9 billion in 2000, saying Myanmar’s GDP is estimated to achieve 7 percent annually during the period from 2019 to 2023.
Long-term foreign investments have been channelled into the transport, infrastructure, urbanization and communications sectors of the country.Myanmar is committed to enhancing regional cooperation with ASEAN member countries under the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 in order to ensure sustainable urban development and create new investment opportunities.Establishment of special economic zones in Myanmar aims to help foreign investors attract, the Union Minister added. The Yangon government is implementingthe mega projects to support foreign investments in the region. The Yangon City Project, Yangon Amata Smart and Eco City Project, Eco Green City Project, Korea-Myanmar Industrial Complex Project and Yangon Project Bank are being developed by foreign investors in Yangon Region, according to a senior official from the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration under the ministry.
In addition Yangon Elevated Expressway Project and Yangon Urban Mass Rapid Transit Construction Project will be built through bidding that will be conducted using international competitive bidding and interested Thai companies are invited to take part in the bidding, said U MyoKhaingOo, Director of the DICA.He continued that small and medium-sized enterprises from Thailand want to shift their businesses to Myanmar.There are 15 companies from Thailand in Thilawa Special Economic Zone. Thilawa SEZ, located on the outskirts of Yangon, is the first Special Economic Zone in Myanmar and had become fully operational in September 2015.Myanmar has great potential to attract a huge influx of investments from Thailand over the next few years. Myanmar conducts border trade with Thailand via seven border checkpoints—Tachilek, Mese, Myawady, Kawthoung, Myeik, Hteekhee and Mawtaung gates.
Bilateral trade between Myanmar and Thailand totalled US$ 11 billion, with Thailand being Myanmar’s third largest trading partner andthird largest foreign investor after Singapore and China. Investments from Thailand in Myanmar amounted to US$ 6.6 billion in the financial year 2018-2019, with half of the investments went into oil and gas sector, according to a senior official from the ministry.

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