The Myanmar Times - October 2, 2018
Urbanisation is a global human phenomenon. We are in a new stage of human history where more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. With 29% of the population lives in urban areas Myanmar is at an early stage of urbanisation compared to its South East Asian neighbours. As such Myanmar is a late comer in the process of urbanisation and can learn from the experiences of other countries. The pace of urbanisation usually supersedes the pace of increase in urban basic infrastructures and services resulting in the strain on services of housing, water supply, electricity, transportation, solid waste management, etc. Cities usually are unable to cope with urban population growth. This particularly holds true in developing nations such as Myanmar. Therefore, planning for a projected population growth is the only option to maintain liveability of a city with urban amenities, opportunities and possibilities of economic growth and prosperity for people.
The lack of modern infrastructure is a major challenge for economic development and a major impediment to growth objectives. According to the United Nations Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific, the country has one of the largest infrastructure deficits in Asia and the Pacific. Its low ranking is evident in various indicators, including road density; access to electricity, water, and basic sanitation facilities; and number of telephone lines, mobile subscribers, and internet users. The deficit is most evident in rural and remote areas, where even the most basic amenities are wanting. This immense infrastructure deficiency is the result of decades of underinvestment. Poor maintenance of public infrastructure has compounded the problem. Even in basic infrastructure, Myanmar fares poorly: it was ranked 141 out of 148 countries in the latest World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. The country needs to step up efforts in narrowing infrastructure deficits, above all to enhance domestic and regional connectivity, support local businesses and enterprises, increase access to employment opportunities, and provide access to basic social services and economic centres.
Mizzima - September 29, 2018
With the aim of increasing tourism business in Myanmar, ordinary passport holders from Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong and Macao will have visa entry relaxed as 1 year of probation period from 1 October 2018 to 30 September, 2019, state media reported. Tourists can visit with a only tourist visa and have a total of 30-day stay with visa exemption. Ordinary passport holders from China can enter Yangon, Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw international airports with visa on arrival system and 30-day stay by paying US$50 visa on arrival fee.
Colliers is positive that foreign arrivals will continue to rise given the sustained interest from Thai, Chinese, and American tourists as well as the rising arrivals from Myanmar's emerging tourist markets such as Malaysia and India. We forecast this trend to persist in the next three years, especially as more Chinese and Japanese businessmen travel and invest in Myanmar. In light of the increasing business tourist arrivals, Colliers surmises it would be favourable for hoteliers to further capitalise on functionality. More importantly, the government’s support for the industry should play a much bigger role in the overall market’s development. On a larger scope, increases in cross-border investment, proliferation of low-cost carriers, addressing poor road networks and infrastructure conditions, the creative branding and identity of Myanmar as a destination, and a further easing of visa restrictions ought to underpin future growth in the country, both internationally and domestically. Colliers forecasts that foreign arrivals will grow by 2-4% in H2 2018.
Over 90 investment enterprises enter Myanmar's Yangon region
Xinhua - September 29, 2018
Myanmar's Yangon Region Investment Committee (YRIC) has permitted 92 investment enterprises from 10 foreign countries so far, the official Global New Light of Myanmar reported Sunday. The enterprises are those from 10 foreign partner countries including China, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam. A total of 129.13 million U.S. dollars from the permitted enterprises entered the manufacturing, hotel services and other services sectors, creating over 43,624 job opportunities in the Yangon region. Enterprises entering Yangon region's manufacturing are engaged in pharmaceutical manufacturing, vehicles, container boxes, and garment production on Cutting Making and Packing (CMP) basis. The Yangon region mainly attracts 60% of both local and foreign investments, followed by Mandalay with 30% and the rest flows into other regions and states.
Overall, the new investment law has been well received, especially by foreign investors who account for up to a fifth of exports and of formal employment, but more needs to be done to raise awareness and build capacity for implementation and coordination. The main changes to the investment regime include lower entry barriers, more streamlined procedures, a dedicated mechanism to mediate investor disputes, and more selective investment incentives. The World Bank Enterprise Survey (WBES) conducted in 2016 with an extension in 2017 suggests that foreign firms account for about 20% of all exports and 18% of formal employment. They are also more productive and more likely to train workers. Most firms aware of the new law think it will positively impact their sector through better access to input/output markets and technology transfers associated with increased FDI. Foreign firms spent significant management time to deal with regulations under the old investment regime and consider the process as favouring those with government connections. To successfully attract and maximise the impact of FDI, the government needs to raise awareness of the new law and regulations, build staff capacity at the regional level, and clarify the setup of the Investor Assistance Committee. Complementary reforms should also be accelerated to improve investors’ access to land, infrastructure, skilled labour, and quality domestic inputs.