Yangon aims to be regional trade hub, Chief Minister tells OBG

Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein, (2nd from right), Yangon Mayor U Maung Maung Soe (Right), and representatives of the Oxford Business Group pose for photo after the meeting. Photo: Supplied
Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein, (2nd from right), Yangon Mayor U Maung Maung Soe (Right), and representatives of the Oxford Business Group pose for photo after the meeting. Photo: Supplied

Long-term plans to develop Myanmar’s largest city of Yangon into a regional economic and trading hub were high on the agenda at a meeting held recently between U Phyo Min Thein, the regional government’s chief minister, and a team from Oxford Business Group (OBG) Monday.
U Phyo Min Thein told OBG’s representatives that the regional government aimed to build on Yangon’s competitive advantages, which include its growing population, traditional role as the county’s main commercial and trading city and strategic location that could become a gateway for Myanmar’s landlocked neighbours to access international markets. As the Chief Minister explained, “Maritime trade will play a determinant role, since 90% of the goods imported into Myanmar enter through the Port of Yangon”.
The Chief Minister said that bringing the regional government’s vision for the city to fruition as a relevant centre of economic activity in the region would require the rolling out of major transportation and logistics projects connecting Yangon to the rest of the country and improving mobility within the city. “At the same time, we will have to expand dry port and storage capacity to create the conditions needed to further develop local industry and the manufacturing sector,” he noted.
OBG’s representatives met U Phyo Min Thein as part of their work on The Report: Myanmar 2018, the global research and consultancy firm’s fifth publication on the country’s economy which will include an in-depth interview with the chief minister. The Report will also chart the progress of the many infrastructure projects earmarked for Yangon and the rest of the country, which form an essential component of efforts to meet rising demand for public services and launch the foundations for sustainable economic growth.
Yangon’s severe infrastructure gaps, which have been exacerbated by the city’s growing population, were also key topic of discussion at the meeting. “Yangon’s expansion in recent decades has not been followed by the modernisation of its infrastructure and this is now putting pressure on the city’s management and public services,” U Phyo Min Thein acknowledged.
Traffic congestion is a major problem across the city, made worse by the poor state of Yangon’s roads and the absence of an integrated system of public transportation. The regional government has introduced a centralised traffic management system and started to work on solutions to improve mobility to begin addressing the challenges it faces. In this context, U Phyo Min Thein highlighted the key role that the centralisation of the city’s bus network is likely to play in providing an “an integrated and affordable” service for Yangon’s citizens. “The next steps in improving Yangon’s public transport services will be the upgrade of its Circular Train System and the creation of a water transportation system plan,” he told OBG.
The Report: Myanmar 2018 will be a vital guide to the many facets of the country, including its macroeconomics, infrastructure, banking, agriculture and other sectoral developments. The publication will contain a detailed, sector-by-sector guide for investors, alongside contributions from leading national personalities. The Report will also feature the insights of international leaders, including Xi Jinping, President of China, Neven Mimica, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development; and Jin Lichun, President of the AIIB. The report will be available in print and online.—GNLM

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