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Ups and downs
The Burmese currency on Friday was valued the same as last week at 1,125 kyat per US dollar. The kyat is also trading at 1,245.9 to the euro; 297.11 per Malaysian ringgit; 834.6 per Singapore dollar; and 33.61 to the Thai baht. Gold was buying at 40,148.58 per gram, and selling at 44,374.74 per gram in Rangoon.
Dagon City hits the rocks
The Burmese government on Tuesday announced the cancellation of the multi-million-dollar Dagon City real estate projects due to public concerns about their proximity to Shwedagon Pagoda. Signed into effect by union government Secretary-General Zaw Than Thin, the motion cited concerns about possible damage to the historic pagoda, which is located just a few hundred metres away. The government promised to come to an agreement with the investors with regard to losses that will be incurred by the cancellation of the Dagon City 1 and Dagon City 2 developments, which were both in pre-construction phases.
Myanmar National Airlines launch international flight
Myanmar National Airlines are set to start flights from Rangoon to Singapore next month on their new Boeing 737-800 aircraft. This is to be the first international journey offered by the Burmese carrier, with hopes to extend flights to Hong Kong and Taipei in the near future. Myanmar National Airlines currently run over 26 domestic flights inside Burma, and will be charging around US$113 for a one-way ticket to Singapore and US$237 for a round-trip.
$200m Thilawa wharf set for 2017 completion
Backed by a US$209-million loan from Japan, construction on a new wharf for Thilawa port, 25km southeast of Rangoon, is set to be completed by 2017, Myanma Port Authority announced on Wednesday. Currently, a total of 32 berths—23 at Rangoon port and nine in Thilawa—handle more than 80 percent of Burma’s shipping freight. Thilawa SEZ is a joint venture between Burmese and Japanese governments, with the main investors including Mitsubishi, Marubeni and Sumitomo corporations.
200,000 jobs at stake as garment factories threaten closures
The Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) has threatened to close down factories if the proposed 3,600 kyat (US$3.60) per day minimum wage is approved by the Burmese government. Representatives of Chinese- and South Korean-owned garment factories at an MGMA meeting on Thursday said they would shut down their businesses by September if the minimum wage proposed earlier this week by the National Committee for Minimum Wage (NCMW) were adopted. Participants at the meeting unanimously objected to the NCMW’s 3,600-kyat-per-day recommendation, saying it would be unaffordable.
Dawei SEZ finally gets green light in Tokyo
Thailand, Japan and Burma on Saturday effectively launched the US$50 billion Dawei special economic zone by signing an agreement in Tokyo that will have a deep impact on trade and investment in Southeast Asia. Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe both said the signing of the tripartite pact will boost the economic partnership between Japan and ASEAN. Gen Prayut and Abe held talks on Saturday after senior government officials of the three countries signed the memorandum on tripartite cooperation to develop the Dawei project as Burmese President Thein Sein looked on.
First Vietnamese firm to break into Burma’s telecoms sector
Vietnamese technology company FPT has become the first 100 percent foreign-owned firm to operate in Burma, announcing on Wednesday that it had been granted a 15-year licence for telecoms and internet services. The Hanoi-based company is now allowed to provide online games, e-news, websites and e-commerce services, according to the company statement. Burma’s cellphone usage has soared since the opening up of its telecoms sector two years ago.
Japan pledges $6bn aid for Mekong countries
Japan pledged US$6.1 billion as a new development aid package for Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam at a summit meeting in Tokyo on Saturday when Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the adoption of a new three-year development strategy to boost growth and connectivity in the Southeast Asian region. He said Tokyo hopes to distinguish its infrastructure development aid in the Mekong region from that of China, by promoting advanced Japanese technology, environment-friendly innovation and capacity-building schemes.