UK in drive to boost economic ties with Myanmar

ASEAN+ February 18, 2015 01:00

By Khine Kyaw
Myanmar Eleven

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The United Kingdom has been doubling its efforts to boost economic cooperation with Myanmar since early 2015.

Following the first visit to Myanmar by the Lord Mayor of London Alderman Alan Yarrow this week, the Myanmar Investment Summit will be held in London on Thursday. The summit is expected to offer participants the opportunity to learn about the latest economic and political developments as well as practical guidance on doing business in the Southeast Asian country. 
The suspension of EU sanctions in April 2012 plays a crucial role in boosting UK-Myanmar trade. The Embassy figures show that the UK exports to Myanmar increased by 239 percent between 2012 and 2013. Currently, about 40-50 British firms have presence in Myanmar. The majority of these are professional services firms such as lawyers, accountants and consultants.
According to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration, the UK currently stands fifth in the nation’s top investor list. China tops the list with the aggregate approved amount of US$14.25 billion investment by 65 enterprises, followed by Thailand ($10.11 billion), Hong Kong ($65.45 billion), and Singapore ($ 48.86 billion) respectively.
As of January 21, 2015, Myanmar has allowed 77 British enterprises to invest more than $ 3.71 billion in Myanmar. The UK investments have therefore amounted to 6.98 per cent of the total FDI. Currently, among the permitted British enterprises, 45 firms have invested more than $ 3.16 billion in the country.
According to the statistics, the UK still maintains its position as the largest European investor in Myanmar. From 1988 to 2014-15 fiscal year, the UK investments in Myanmar amounted to $ 31.59 billion. Of them, the UK investments in the past three fiscal years reached $ 418.98 million. 
At the investment summit organised City and Financial Global with the support of UK-Asean Business Council, UK Trade and Investment, and the British Chamber of Commerce Myanmar, more than 200 British firms are expected to attend the event.
A range of expert panellists from both countries will discuss about opportunities and dispel common misconceptions about doing business in Myanmar. Myanmar speakers will offer a practical advice on working with local partners, and insights into specific sectors such as energy and education. 
Confirmed speakers include Sett Aung, deputy governor of the Central Bank and the chairman of Thilawa Special Economic Zone Management Committee; Professor Aung Tun Thet, economic adviser to the President; Aung Naing Oo, secretary of the Myanmar Investment Commission and director-general of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration; and Khine Khine Nwe, joint secretary-general of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. 
 “Exports and investment are beginning to flow from the UK, for example in professional and education services and consumer goods. The government is keen to support businesses that create jobs in Myanmar, provide the training and technology transfer the country needs and apply the highest international operating standards,” said Baroness Neville-Rolph, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.
In a statement, Lisa Weedon, director of UKTI Myanmar, said that the event would encourage more British businesses to take the plunge and do business in Myanmar.
“I am really looking forward to the summit and believe it will offer British companies an opportunity to learn about the reality of doing business in Myanmar from a superb range of speakers,” she said.
Stephanie Ashmore, executive director of the British Chamber of Commerce, said that the event would provide valuable insights into the rapidly-evolving investment environment in Myanmar.
“The Chamber has been active in Myanmar for seven months and its purpose is to support business links between these two countries. Events like this summit are an important part of this process,” she said.
Ken Tun, chief executive officer of Parami Energy, and Thiri Thant Mon, head of corporate development at Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd, are among the speakers at the event. 
During his visit to Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw, the Lord Mayor of London Yarrow noted that there are many areas in which London and Myanmar might work together, including banking and education.
“Banking and financial services are crucial aspects of any economy, and it is clear that this is a vibrant time for developments in this country’s banking and capital markets sector,” he said in a statement appearing in Mizzima website. “However, the existence of a vibrant insurance market, including the presence of reputable, international players, could help ensure robust governance, protecting investors and consumers. It also creates confidence in the development of the industry as well as the products and services offered to the people. This is especially important given the long-term nature of the insurance business, and the UK is keen to help in every way it can to facilitate the development of the insurance market.”

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