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Ups and downs
The selling rate for Burmese currency strengthened slightly this week from 983 kyat to the US dollar to 981 kyat. The buying rate is stable at 981 kyat to the US currency. The price of gold is down to 684,700 kyat per tical, a decrease of some 1,300 kyat from the week before. Fuel remains constant: petrol 820 kyat, diesel 950 kyat, and octane 920 kyat per litre. High-quality Pawhsanmwe rice is still selling at Rangoon marketplaces for 1,200–1300 kyat per basket while low-grade Emata rice sells at 850– 900 kyat.
Japanese firm plans shopping mall for Rangoon
Japan’s Aeon Co plans to open a shopping mall in Rangoon by 2016, according to a report in Kyodo News. The retailing giant says it will set up a representative office in March to lay the groundwork for its launch. Aeon owns no less than 157 shopping centres in Japan and around the world, including operations in China, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Aeon is also building its first shopping mall in Cambodia, which is scheduled to open in June.
Inflation rate doubles in first half of 2013-14
Inflation in Burma has doubled in the first six months of the 2013-14 fiscal year, in relation to the 2012-13 figure. According to a report by parliamentary body the Public Accounts Joint Committee, inflation has risen from 2.85 percent to 5.77 percent. Joint committee member Win Than urged the government to control inflation by stabilising currency rates as commodity prices rise.
Burma’s 8th domestic airline takes to the skies
Mandalay-based Mann Yatanarpon is the 8th and newest player in Burma’s domestic airline industry. As of Thursday, the airline began services to Rangoon, Nyaung Oo, Heho, Tachilek, Kengtung and Myitkyina via new propeller-driven ATR 72-600 aircraft, built in France. Kyaw Myo, CEO of Mann Yatanarpon, told Eleven Media that the service is designed for international travellers flying directly into Mandalay. The seven domestic airlines already operating are: Myanma Airways, Air Mandalay, Air KBZ, GMA, Yangon Airways, Air Bagan and Asian Wings.
Singaporean firm powers ahead in Mon State
Singaporean company Asiatech Energy has obtained a loan from the United Overseas Bank to build a 230-megawatt power plant in Mon State. The combined cycle gas-fired power plant is expected to produce enough electricity to supply close to five million people. Asiatech Energy expects the project to be finished by next year, and to cost an estimated US$170m. Gas-fired power plants are relatively uncommon in Burma. Hydroelectric dams produce 70 percent of the country’s energy.
CB Bank to open in Chin State
The Co-operative Bank Ltd, better known across the country as CB Bank, is set to open a new branch in Hakha, Chin State, next month. It will be the first private bank to provide financial services in the state capital, currently only served by government-owned Myanma Economic Bank. The CB Bank, headquartered in Rangoon, has now over 70 branches with ATM services and also runs Foreign Exchange Counters across the country.
Burmese airline gets its wings
Burma’s national carrier, Myanmar Airways International (MAI), launched its first charter flight from Pusan, South Korea, to Rangoon last week. MAI began charter flight services operating as a code share with Korean Air as well as Asiana Airlines last year. Aye Mra Tha, MAI’s marking executive said, “We have airbuses with a 120 and 180-seat capacity, available for the charter flights depending on the number of passengers.” The MAI currently operates daily flights to Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Guangzhou, Gaya, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
Chevrolet and Toyota to open showrooms in Rangoon
Japanese car manufacturer Toyota is set to open a showroom in Rangoon, making early inroads into the new car market in Burma. Toyota joins fellow Japanese car companies Mitsubishi and Suzuki and US companies Ford and General Motors, who already have exclusive showrooms in Burma’s financial capital. According to Bloomberg, Toyota sees Burma as one of a series of emerging global markets for new cars. Currently, used vehicle sales currently account for 90 percent of the retail car market in Burma. President Zaw Moe Khine of Pacific Alpine Pte Ltd, Chevrolet’s sole distributor in Burma, said that, in addition to sales, the firm will also provide maintenance service and spare parts.
Thai mobile company True to enter Burma
Thai telecommunications company True Corp plans to bring its mobile phone service to Burma, Reuters reported on Wednesday. True currently provides mobile coverage in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia, and plans to create a joint venture with Burmese internet service provider Yatanarpon Teleport (YTP). YTP is a joint venture between 13 private firms as well as the Burmese government. True is listed on the Thai stock exchange and is owned by Thai billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont.
Fishing industry rues year ‘that got away’
Fish exports haven’t seen the same upward trajectory as other sectors in Burma this year. While a forward estimate of the export value of fish from Burma was placed at US$700m for the 2013-14 financial year, the Myanmar Fisheries Federation (MFF) said only $451m has been generated in the first 10 months of the year, $84m short of last year’s figure as of the 10-month mark. MFF cites a lack of infrastructure and investment shortfall as contributing factors to the downturn in export value.
ASEAN Rice Federation in the works
Five ASEAN member states, including Burma, have agreed to establish a regional Rice Federation, according to Soe Tun, joint-secretary of Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF). Plans for an ASEAN Rice Federation (ARF) began in November last year when agricultural ministers and industry leaders from Burma, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia convened in Bangkok. The concerned officials finalised an agreement last weekend in Rangoon.