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Local partners key to success in Myanmar, Thai business told

A senior business spokesman in Myanmar says forging local partnerships will be the key success factor for Thai companies looking to establish a presence in that country.

Tun Aung, central executive member of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, urged businesses to come to Myanmar to "see for yourself" and find partners.

Speaking at a seminar yesterday hosted by Index Creative Village and titled "Myanmar: The Promising Trade Platform in AEC", Tun Aung said: "If you're not here, you can't 100 per cent understand our country."

The remark was addressed to a businessman struggling to get his stainess-steel exports through a Myanmar port.

He assured the businessman that all the troubles he was experiencing - including frequent changes in import duties that result in months of clearance delays - would be solved if he had a local partner.

Tun Aung said Myanmar offered investment potential.

Despite abundant natural resources and a "trainable and well-educated labour force", the country still depends on imports to satisfy domestic demand.

In the snack market, up to 80 per cent of items on shelves are imported from Thailand and China.

Small and medium-size enterprises are yearning for foreign partners who can share more advanced manufacturing technology with them.

Tun Aung invited businesses to contact the chamber so partnership could be facilitated.

He urged Thai investors to be patient when experiencing the three main business obstacles in Myanmar: workers that are not as "fully trained" as their Thai counterparts; a foreign-exchange market restricted to a few currencies; and a banking sector that is not yet fully liberalised.

Dealing with a bank that is not up to international standards might pose problems regarding financing, he said.

"Myanmar has hamburgers and fried chicken, but we don't have McDonald's hamburgers or Kentucky Fried Chicken," he said, drawing laughter from the crowd of about 300.

In a sign of the overwhelming investment interest in the country, the crowd included Thai Union Frozen Products chief executive Thiraphong Chansiri and an executive of a Bangkok-based Indian firm.

The speakers included Thai Ambassador to Myanmar Pisanu Suvanajata and a Commerce Ministry official, who agreed that Thai companies must act now to get a foothold in Myanmar and benefit from a new market that was luring companies from around the world - largely because it is in the Asean Economic Community.


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