BURMA BUSINESS WEEKLY - 29 August 2014

BURMA BUSINESS WEEKLY - 29 August 2014

Ups and downs

Burma’s currency was stable again this week; the buying rate for Burmese kyat on Friday was 973 to the US dollar. The price of gold rose slightly to 671,300 kyat per tical, up from 669,000 kyat last week. Fuel and rice prices remained steady.

 

Coal plant to be built near Rangoon

A 300 megawatt coal power plant is soon to be built in Thaung Khng village, 40 km south of Rangoon, local media reported on Sunday. Eleven Media cited project officials who said that villagers have been informed of the project, which will be managed by Kaung Myat Thaw Myay Company, a subsidiary of Asia World. The project will comprise two 150 MW stations and could be expanded to include three other facilities. It is intended to provide electricity primarily to Rangoon.

 

India to sign Free Trade Agreement with Burma

India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry expects to sign a long-awaited Free Trade Agreement with the Southeast Asian trade bloc later this month, The New Indian Express reported on Monday. Minister of State Nirmala Sitharaman will travel to the Burmese capital Naypyidaw on 26-27 August for an ASEAN-Indian ministerial meeting, where the treaty will be signed. The agreement indicates India’s interest in a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership plan that extends further across Asia and the Pacific, the report said.

 

Govt pulls plug on several junta-era dams

Several hydropower projects initiated by Burma’s former ruling junta have been indefinitely stopped, according to Deputy Minister of Electric Power Maw Thar Htwe. Speaking to reporters in Shan State on 23 August, the deputy minister said that two dams in Arakan State, one in Kachin State and another in Tenasserim Division have been halted because they are no longer relevant. He added that the ministry is seeking new partners to develop some other unspecified hydro projects.

 

Burma’s rice exports up 40 percent

Burma’s rice exports have risen by 41 percent during the current fiscal year, according to the Ministry of Commerce. Industry news site Oryza reported that officials said that US$196 million in rice was exported from 1 April to 15 August, a total of 530,000 tons. The rise was attributed to increased demand from Russia, which countered lower exports to China since a ban was put in place at the start of the fiscal year. The freeze on exports to China has steeply devalued Burmese rice, but officials said that Burma and China are working on a new agreement to allow legal trade in the near future.

Read more here.

 

Burma’s companies slacking off on taxes

Nearly half of Burma’s registered companies filed income tax documents this year, according to a senior tax official. The Internal Revenue Department announced a 30 June deadline to declare all assets, with penalties for late submissions. Despite the announcements published in state media, many companies filed two months past the deadline while others simply didn’t file at all. Last year, income tax in Rangoon alone generated about 710 billion kyat (US$710 million).

 

Thailand expecting trade surplus with Burma by 2016

Thailand is expecting to have a bilateral trade surplus with Burma by 2016 because of economic growth and an increase in cross-border trade, according to a senior executive of Bangkok Bank. While the first half of the fiscal year indicated a trade deficit of 40 billion baht (US$1.33 billion), the figure is expected to drop by half by the end of the year, he said. In previous years, Thailand maintained a steady trade deficit with its neighbours, largely due to vast natural gas imports. But the executive predicted increased demand for Thai products in Burma are likely to even out trade figures.

Read more here.

 

South Korea to increase fruit imports from Burma

South Korea is set to increase Burmese agricultural imports, according to Burma’s Ministry of Commerce. Korean government officials and representatives of the ASEAN-Korea Centre met with the ministry on Tuesday to iron out plans to begin the import of four fruits: dragonfruit, mango, mangosteen and pomelo. Prior to the deal, Burma has maintained other successful trade relations with South Korea. Various pulses, tobacco leaves, dried fruit and raw materials used for traditional medicine are regularly exported to South Korea.

Read more here.

 

Foreign banks apply for full-operation status

Twenty-five of the 43 foreign banks that currently have representative offices in Burma have applied for full-operational status within the national banking system. About five to ten of those companies will be selected in September, according to an official from the Banks and Financial Development subcommittee. Selected banks will be able to open branches and carry out all customer services, whereas the current representative banks primarily act as liaison for investors.

Read more here.

 

Trade between ASEAN and Canada hits $16.5bn

Bilateral trade between Canada and ASEAN reached US$16.5 billion in fiscal year 2013, state media reported on Thursday. Citing Canada’s Minister of International Trade, in Burma for the 3rd ASEAN Economic Ministers Summit in Naypyidaw, The New Light of Myanmar said that bilateral trade is growing by more than seven percent each year. Stock of Canadian direct investments in ASEAN increased by 34 percent to $5.7 billion, the report said.

 

12 Foreign companies bid for Kyaukphyu SEZ contracts

Twelve companies from seven countries have submitted proposals for the development of a Special Economic Zone in Kyaukphyu, western Burma, according to the SEZ selection committee. Proposals include plans to develop factories, housing projects and the completion of a deep sea port. A call for tenders was announced earlier this year and the bidding window closed on 25 August, the secretary of the committee, Aung Kyaw Than, said.

Read more here.

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