Japanese trading firms seen boosting their presence in Myanmar


Major Japanese trading houses are expanding their operations in Myanmar ahead of the incoming government lead by Aung San Suu Kyi at the end of this month.

Mitsui & Co. and Marubeni Corp. both have launched projects to produce agricultural fertilizers locally, while Mitsubishi Corp., Itochu Corp. and Sumitomo Corp. are ramping up their automobile-related businesses.

The companies are betting democratization will foster in brisk growth in the Southeast Asian nation.

Earlier this month, Mitsui, in a joint venture with a major agricultural company in the country, set up Agri First Co., a fertilizer production and sales firm.

Meanwhile, Marubeni plans to begin fertilizer processing operations in April 2017 at a plant it is building with a local partner.

In auto-related sectors, Sumitomo last year started to offer repair and maintenance services for trucks manufactured by Hino Motors Ltd., while Itochu established a maintenance firm for Isuzu Motors Ltd. vehicles.

Mitsubishi also moved to expand its vehicle-related business, setting up a joint venture to import and sell vehicles and parts produced by Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

In Myanmar, farmers account for 60 percent of the country’s population, consuming some 1 million tons of fertilizer a year. The country’s fertilizer market is currently one-fifth the size of Vietnam or Thailand, but a rapid expansion is expected.

Furthermore, the used vehicle market has been growing since imports of finished vehicles were approved following the country’s shift to civilian rule in 2015.