Ups and downs
Burma’s currency was stable again this week; the buying rate for Burmese kyat on Friday was still 971 to the US dollar, while also selling at 971. The price of gold fell from 676, 500 kyat per tical to 669,000 kyat. Fuel remains the same as last week: petrol 820 kyat; diesel 950 kyat; and octane 950 kyat per litre. High-quality Pawsanhmwe rice remains at 1,300-1,700 kyat per basket, while low-quality Manawthukha rice is still set at 900 kyat per basket at most Rangoon markets.
China aims to legalise Burmese rice imports
Chinese officials will enter discussions geared towards allowing the legal import of Burmese rice, according to Yu Ding Cheng, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce in Yunnan, China. Seizures of illegal rice have led to a steep decline in value. Yu Ding Cheng said that he met with Burma’s Federation of Chambers of Commerce in efforts to boost cross-border trade on 14 August. The Myanmar Rice Federation said that they do not expect to meet this year’s target of exporting two million tons of rice, as value and demand have both dropped.
UK to supply Rangoon airport with refueling vehicles
Flightline Support Ltd, a UK-based manufacturer, has secured export contracts worth over UK£600,000 in Burma and Morocco, the British government announced on Thursday. “Flightline Support are among the first UK companies to clinch orders in [Burma] since the trade sanctions were lifted 12 months ago”, the government website said, noting that the British firm will supply Rangoon airport with two 20,000-litre aircraft refuelling vehicles. Ray Harris, Managing Director of Flightline support, recently visited the re-opened British embassy in Rangoon to meet UK Trade & Investment staff. According to the government website, they discussed “forging stronger ties with Myanma Petroleum Products Enterprise and the Myanmar Ministry of Energy”.
Muse economic zone to be complete by 2017
A Central Economic Zone planned for Muse, on the Burma-China border, will be complete by 2017, according to a project official. State media reported that project director Ngwe Soe said in a televised announcement on Sunday that the project will be implemented by the Shan State regional government and New Star Light Construction Co. About 18 real estate developments are planned, including housing, hotels and jade trading facilities. The zone will require more than 300 acres of land and will cost 50 billion kyat (US$50m), the report said.
Malaysian firm to supply bulldozers to Hpakant
Malaysia’s UMW Group has reportedly secured contracts worth US$63 million to supply more than 60 units of Komatsu equipment to jade mining firms in conflict-ridden Hpakant in Kachin State. According to Malaysia’s The Star on Friday, UMW Engineering Services Ltd secured contracts to deliver Komatsu equipment – presumably excavators, caterpillars and bulldozers. Jade-mining activities were suspended in May 2012 in Hpakant due to security reasons, but Burma announced recently that the suspension will be lifted on 1 September.
Telenor expects to follow Ooredoo roll-out within a month
Following the official launch of Qatar-based telecoms giant Ooredoo in Burma last week, Norwegian rival Telenor, the only other international player in the country’s lucrative telecoms market, announced that it will roll-out next month. Speaking exclusively to DVB, Myanmar CEO Petter Furberg said Telenor would be operational in Rangoon, Mandalay and Naypyidaw “sometime in September” and would cover every region in the country within the first year. He said the firm was launching both 2-G and 3-G networks to cater for Burma’s geography and social conditions.
Korean firm to provide electrical components
South Korean electrical firm LSIS, part of the LS Group conglomerate, has signed a contract to supply high voltage distribution panel boards to Burma’s Asia General Electric (AGE) over the next five years, the Korea Times reported on Friday. Under the agreement, LSIS will also provide more than 3,000 vacuum circuit breakers (VCBs), the report said. AGE, which supplies key electrical parts to Burmese state-run forms and other companies, will reportedly manufacture complete switchgears using VCBs at its Burmese plant.
Burmese SMEs in line for bank loans
Thailand-based Small and Medium Enterprises Development Bank has pledged for provide 20 billion kyat (US$20 million) this year in loans for small and medium businesses in Burma starting from 27 August. According to an announcement by the bank last week, a business can apply for a loan of 20 million to 50 million kyat at an interest rate of 8.5 percent. More than 120,000 SMEs are registered in Burma making up over 99 percent of the country’s enterprises.