‘On right track’ Myanmar woos investments

Kyodo

Win Aung, head of a group representing Myanmar’s Chambers of Commerce and Industry, has called for more Japanese businesses to invest in the Southeast Asian nation.

“Myanmar is on the right track politically and economically, and it’s on the runway to take off,” he said Tuesday in Tokyo in a seminar titled “Changing Myanmar: Challenges and Opportunities.”

“There are abundant opportunities, and we are sure it will be beneficial to investors,” he said.

Win Aung noted Japan ranks 12th in foreign investment in Myanmar, accounting for 0.53 percent of the total amount.

China makes up 34.27 percent, followed by Thailand’s 23.51 percent, he said. The U.S. is ninth with 0.60 percent.

In April, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told visiting Myanmar President Thein Sein in Tokyo that Japan would forgive about ¥300 billion of Myanmar’s debts and resume low-interest, long-term development loans to the once-isolated country.

The resumption of Japanese aid followed historic by-elections earlier in April that saw democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi elected to Parliament.

Tin Htut Oo, who has been tapped as chairman of Myanmar’s National Economic and Social Advisory Council, also discussed the improving situation in his country.

“Change in Myanmar is irreversible,” he said. “Ongoing reform measures, with the institution of several new laws and regulations to promote the private sector, foreign investment and to expand exports, have been changing many facets of the Myanmar economy.

“Renewed focus on rural development and poverty reduction is encouraging, and we aim to lower the poverty rate to 16 percent by 2015 from the current 26 percent,” he added.

The seminar was cohosted by the Asian Development Bank Institute and the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.