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Ups and Downs
The Burmese kyat continues to remain stable, this week trading at 1,292 kyat to the US dollar, barely moving from last week’s 1,283. Gold is selling for 771,500 per tical compared to 768,000 last week, and buying at 767,000, up from 765,000.
Rice reserve scheme implemented
Burma’s Ministry of Commerce this week announced that all rice exporters must retain two percent of every shipment as reserve supply, state media reported on Friday. The scheme, which takes effect immediately, aims to prevent rice shortages from occurring during a natural disaster. The announcement also gave the green light for rice exports to recommence on Tuesday, ending a one-and-a-half-month freeze that began on 7 August as a means of ensuring domestic rice sufficiency in the wake of flooding in many parts of the country.
80 seafood factories suspended
Operations in 80 of Burma’s 150 processing factories have been suspended due to a shortage of seafood and fish, according to Myanmar Fisheries Federation. State-run media on Wednesday cited vice-chairman Hnin Oo attributing the temporary shutdown to depleted stocks.
“As Myanmar does not carry out breeding activities on a large scale, the sector relies on fishing for a livelihood. The production of fishing sector is now falling and we are facing a shortage of raw materials. As a result, about half of our factories had to be closed temporarily,’ he told The Global New Light of Myanmar. He suggested that the government invest greater efforts into developing the capacity of the fisheries sector by offering assistance, research for breeders, and infrastructure.
Aung San Stadium ready for face-lift
Rangoon’s Aung San Stadium is set to undergo massive upgrades, with the Myanmar Football Federation (MFF), the Ayeyarwady Foundation, and football fans themselves footing the bill, according to state media.
“We estimate that the total cost of repairs will be somewhere between K400 million and K700 million (US$320,000 to $560,000), MFF’s Soe Moe Kyaw said, adding that, in addition to turf and pitch improvements, the football park face-lift would include new stands, floodlights and changing rooms.
Burma will be hosting the 2016 ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup, which is scheduled to take place at Thuwunna Stadium with Aung San Stadium held as a back-up venue.
Burma will begin manufacturing diesel trains with financial and technical assistance from China, state media reported on Wednesday. Myanmar Railways sent 56 employees to Dalian on 14 September for training in locomotive manufacturing, while a new factory is slated to open in Naypyidaw which will be tasked with producing 20 trains over the next year, each 2,000 HP with capability of reaching 110 km/p/h.
Low-cost Vietnam flights launch in October
Low-cost carrier Vietjet will launch a new route between Rangoon and Ho Chi Minh City on 2 October, with a schedule of five return flights per week, state media reports this week.
While the Burmese kyat is among several Asian currencies falling against the US dollar, several bankers have warned that the financial insecurity is making foreign investors wary of Burma, Eleven Media reported.
Speaking at the Myanmar Global Investment Forum in Rangoon earlier this week, Dr Kobsak Pootrakool of Bangkok Bank said, “This is a headache for investors. We are finding out how to stabilise matters. Myanmar’s trade deficit is one result of this.”
Azeem Azimuddin, chief financial officer at AYA Bank, said, “Myanmar’s financial sector has problems. International monetary firms cannot operate here. The Financial Institution Law has not been implemented yet. We don’t know what that law will contain.”
The forum heard criticism of the limited services offered by banks and calls for improvements to the financial sector, Eleven said.
The World Bank has approved a US$400 million interest-free credit to support the Burmese government’s expansion of the national electricity grid. The support from the World Bank will help finance the goal of countrywide access to electricity by 2030. Currently, over 70 percent of the population live with no access to electricity. Naypyidaw has highlighted the importance of upgrading the grid as a priority to alleviate poverty and sustain the fast-developing economy.
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International investors wary of Burmese law
International investors have told the Myanmar Global Investment Forum that even though Burma generates much interest, there are a multitude of challenges that foreign investors face.
The challenges, discussed on the panel held on the second day of the forum, were mainly a lack of transparency, unfinished ceasefire deals, and other restrictions not limited to laws.
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World-class aquarium to open in Rangoon
Touted as “the most anticipated tourist attraction in Myanmar”, a state-of-the-art aquarium is scheduled to open in Rangoon next year, after months of delays on the ambitious project. Singaporean urban engineering company Surbana International Consultants Pte Ltd won tender bidding to manage the 18,200 square metre development, however Myanmar Aquarium Company will retain ownership. The Yangon City Development Committee will manage the external landscape.
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Kubota continues expansion in Thilawa
Japanese agricultural equipment firm Kubota is set to construct a machinery assembly plant in the Thilawa, according to Japanese financial journal Nikkei Asian Review. The move continues the company’s expansion in the Special Economic Zone at Thilawa port, located some 25 kilometres southeast of Rangoon. The heavy machinery manufacturer, which was recently awarded the first license in Burma to sell imported wholesale goods, stands to capitalise on the increasing demand for updated farming equipment as Burmese farmers move to modernise their industry, Nikkei said on Wednesday.
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Bank of China paces way for entry into Burma
The Bank of China opened a representative office in Rangoon this week, according to a report by state-run Xinhua news agency. Headquartered in Beijing, the Bank of China is one of the five largest state-run commercial banks in China, with more than 305,000 employees, and assets listed in 2013 at 12.3 trillion yuan (US$2 trillion).
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