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Ups and Downs
The Burmese kyat exchange rate on Friday was at 1,025 kyat to US$1. It was 1,161.3 kyat to 1 Euro, and 867.25 kyat to 1 Japanese yen.
Hooters in Burma?
Hooters of America on Tuesday announced an extensive development agreement to open 30 Hooters restaurants throughout Southeast Asia over the next six years, including a possible venue in Burma. The US franchise, famed for its Buffalo wings and well-endowed waitresses, already has 430 locations in 28 countries around the world.
Indonesian interest in Burmese tin
As the world’s biggest exporter of tin, Indonesia capped its shipments of the metal before the industry turned attention to Burma to fulfill demand amid rising prices. Indonesian state-controlled tin company Timah is to continue operations in Burma after ending a mining project in southern Burma where explorations into reserves proved disappointing. The corporation is interested in acquiring a smelter operator, according to the Jakarta Globe. Timah is also said to be contemplating an entry in to the property market.
New ‘Citizens Card’ payment scheme launched
A re-loadable, prepaid payment card, dubbed the “Citizen Card”, has been launched by Myanmar Citizens Bank (MCB) and Singapore-based company 2C2P. Users will be able to use a smartphone app to manage transactions in real-time. According to 2C2P, it is targeted at the retail, travel and tourism sectors. The card can be obtained at any branch of MCB as well as at their website.
Chicken and egg situation
The Burmese poultry industry is seeing an oversupply of products due to new imports of hatchlings and eggs from India and China, according to media reports. This has caused prices to drop to around half, meaning traders would have to sell twice the amount as before to take home the same amount of money. Chicken previously fetched 5,000 kyat (US$5) per viss (1.63kg), but decreased to around 2,500 kyat per viss at the end of December.
Land grabs in public interest, says Construction Minister
Deputy Minister for Construction Soe Tint weighed in on the land confiscation issue in parliament on Tuesday, saying, “Farmland loss is due to establishing new satellite towns in public interests,” reported state media. Soe Tint was speaking after a series of land disputes across the country, mostly resulting from land seizures in rural areas by the military in the 1990s. “The projects are real,” he insisted, adding that affected farmers were compensated for lost land at more than market value.
Indonesian state bank to open Burma branch
Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI), Indonesia’s fourth largest bank with over nine million customers, will open a branch in Burma this year to encourage business relations between the two countries. It hopes to assist Indonesian business people looking to expand abroad, and to encourage investment in Indonesia itself. BNI have said it will also be of use to Indonesian migrants working in Burma.
Japanese loan to boost Burma’s ICT network
Burma is looking to borrow US$105 million from Japan to develop the country’s telecommunication infrastructure, according to state media. The loan, with a 40-year settlement period, will be used to install a Rangoon-Naypyidaw-Mandalay fibre-optic network and extend Rangoon’s internet access, amongst other projects. Report say that while mobile telecommunication services are operated by private companies, the state will continue to operate some areas in line with security demands, including landlines and faxing, the banking network and special economic networks.
Pharmaceutical imports stable in 2015
The proportion of medicines that Burma imports is not set to change in 2015, according to state media. Around 85 percent of “Western” pharmaceuticals come from neighbours, with half coming from India. Other imports come from China and Thailand. Interest in health-sector and pharmaceutical investment is growing, state media said, and the second trade show from the Myanmar Pharmaceutical and Medical Equipment Entrepreneurs Association is scheduled for 5-7 February.
Port to welcome Middle Eastern tankers
Oil tankers from the Middle East will be able to unload crude oil at the newly constructed Ma-de Port in Arakan State. An event to officially launch the port was held in Rangoon on Wednesday after a project that began in 2011 and cost several billion dollars, according to the Vice President Nyan Tun. Oil tanks with the capacity to hold 22 million gallons of crude oil have been built.