The pavements of Yangon are heating up not solely because temperatures are now reaching 40C during the day but because the number of arrivals is increasing daily as more and more businesses from more and more countries visit Yangon and Naypyitaw looking for business partners and new deals.
Amongst the highlights this month:
- On February 22nd the United States authorized US entities, allowing them to do business with four major Myanmar banks extending the easing of economic sanctions. The Treasury Department said it had issued a general license to allow individuals, companies, and financial institutions to conduct most financial transactions—such as opening and maintaining an account and a range of other financial services—with the banks. The banks named were Myanma Economic Bank, Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank, Asia Green Development Bank and Ayeyarwady Bank.
- A major United States business delegation including 50 representatives of US companies visited Myanmar from February 24th to 28th. The US Chamber of Commerce announced that the delegation included representatives from a wide range of industries, including agribusiness, automotive, electronics, energy, retailing and telecommunications. It is the first major US business delegation since President Obama’s historic visit to the country last November.
- Meanwhile on February 25th Myanmar President, Thein Sein, left on a visit to five European countries at the invitations of the Italian President, the Norwegian Prime Minister, the President of Austria, the President of Finland and the Chairman of the European Commission. Further sanctions were lifted during this tour.
- A tender for two telecom licenses announced in mid January has drawn expressions of interest from 91 companies according to officials at the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Telegraphs.
- Asia Green Development Bank, one of Myanmar's largest privately owned banks has received approval from the Directorate of Investment and Companies Administration to become a public company and expects to go public within 6 months.
- Rice exports in 2013 are expected to reach 1.5 million tonnes having hovered around 800,000 tonnes in the preceding years 2012, 2011 and 2010 according to the Myanmar Rice Industry Federation. This will make Myanmar the world’s fifth largest rice exporter.
- According to the Ministry of Commerce, agricultural exports of beans and pulses are set to generate US$ 1.0bn for the economy in FY2013. By far the largest purchaser is India with 76%, followed by Singapore with 14% and then Malaysia and Vietnam each with 2%.
- Singapore based Jardine Cycle & Carriage Ltd has entered into a joint venture with Automobile Century Company Ltd to open a vehicle maintenance service centre in Myanmar. The Myanmar government liberalized the importing of cars in October 2011 resulting in an inflow of 130,000 cars between October 2011 and January 2013. Currently approximately 90% of all cars in Myanmar are imported from Japan.
- Nissan Motors, the second largest car maker in Japan, will establish an assembly plant in Myanmar with local partners E. Garage Auto Service and Spare Parts Ltd which is 90% owned by Malaysia’s Tan Chong Group, which is also Nissan’s partner for car assembly in Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp has also announced plans for re-opening its existing assembly plant in the country by May 2013.
- The hotel industry sees the Max Myanmar Group, one of the largest conglomerates in Myanmar, convert the Pyay Towers, currently under construction, into a five-star Novotel Hotel by the end of 2013, it will be operated by French-owned ACCOR Hospitality. When completed the hotel will add some 366 rooms to the room starved Myanmar hotel sector. Myanmar currently has 30 foreign-owned hotels in operation providing some 5,000 rooms.
- Growing consumer demand has attracted Dentsu, the Japanese advertising and public relations agency, to open a branch office in Yangon. The office will mainly cater to Dentsu’s Japanese clients. Last year, WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather became the first international agency to set up in Myanmar by acquiring a stake in Today Advertising in May 2012.
- Seafood exports to the U.S grow following the easing and lifting of international sanctions according to the Myanmar Fishery Federation (MFF). Myanmar companies need to register with the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for exporting and meet FDA standards.