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Burma Business Weekly – 15 Feb 2014


Ups and downs

The Burmese kyat is selling at 988 to the US dollar, that’s one kyat less than last week. The buying rate is 982 kyat to the dollar. Gold in Rangoon is currently selling at 662,000 kyat per tical, that’s 4,200 kyat up from a week ago. Fuel remains stable: petrol 820 kyat, diesel 950 kyat and octane 920 kyat per litre. High-quality Pawhsanmwe rice remains at 1,200- 1,300 kyat per basket at Rangoon markets, while low-quality Emata rice is still at 850-900 kyat.


Thilawa shares for sale

Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holding Public Co Ltd, which has a 41 percent stake in Thilawa Special Economic Zone, is to sell two million shares, each of which will be sold at 10,000 kyat (USS$10), said Chairman of Thilawa SEZ Administrative Committee Set Aung who is also vice-chairman of Burma’s Central Bank, speaking in Naypyidaw on Thursday. Thilawa SEZ is being implemented as joint venture of Japan (49 percent) and Burma (51 percent).


Myanma Airlines to lease 10 Boeing 737 planes

State-owned Myanma Airlines has signed an agreement to lease 10 new Boeing 737 aircraft from American company GE Capital Aviation Services. The first of the new planes, worth US$96m each, will be delivered in 2015. Myanma Airlines currently focuses on domestic travel, relying on Fokker F28 jets and propeller-powered ATR Turboprops and Cessnas. The lease agreement will give Myanma Airlines the potential to introduce international services to Korea and Japan, transport minister Nyan Htun Aung said in a statement.


Germany Cancels $740m Burmese debt

Berlin has agreed to write off half off Burma’s debt to Germany, some US$741 million. The remaining $741 is to be repaid over the next 15 years at a the minimal interest rate of 3 percent with the first repayment installment delayed for another seven years, according to state-run media. The debt restructuring plan was agreed during a visit by German President Joachim Gauck and is part of a wider agreement reached between Burma and other countries of the so-called Paris Club to whom Naypyidaw owes money in order to help with resuscitating of the Burmese economy.


New 5-star hotel to open in Naypyidaw

Pan Pacific Hotels Group has announced the opening of its second luxury hotel in Burma. The Parkroyal, located near the Myanmar International Convention Centre in Naypyidaw, will open its doors in April and is scheduled to host several upcoming international events in Naypyidaw as Burma exercises 2014 chairmanship of ASEAN.


US eyes mining opportunities in Burma

Burmese Minister for Environmental Conservation and Forestry Win Tun received Robert Cekuta, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US State Department, on Wednesday morning when the pair discussed the development of Burma’s mineral resources and renewable energy, water and food security and their sustainable development, according to state-run media. In addition to EITI membership, bilateral talks also reportedly covered “promoting the sectors of environmental conservation, energy, mines, forestry and human resources.”


Burma moves to gold standard, red tape to be loosened

In a move that will open the country’s gold market to global investors, CCTV has reported that Burma will begin issuing gold bars under the international measurement standard—the gram—as opposed to national currency the kyat. Restrictions on how much gold foreigners can buy are to be scrapped. Plans are also in place to soften a 1994 law requiring the government receive a 70 percent profit share from foreign mines in the country. The announcement comes as Burma gears up for 2015 implementation of the ASEAN free-trade zone.


Offshore energy block bidders await announcement

The Burmese government will pick the winners bidding for 30 new energy exploration offshore blocks this month. Thailand’s PTT Exploration and Production Plc is among the bidders alongside Petronas of Malaysia, Mitsui Oil of Japan and Shell of the Netherlands. However an official said contracts on production-sharing with the bid winners could take months before they are ready for signing. Burma has three offshore fields at the Yadana, Yetagun and Shwe sites, and most of the production is exported either to Thailand or China.


Burma’s rice industry faces growing pains

The Myanmar Rice Federation (MRF) has stressed a need for tangible rice policies to keep abreast with industries in neighbouring countries. Ye Min Aung, general-secretary of the MRF, said adopting more comprehensive rice policies will allow foreign investors to make their own decisions freely on which areas to invest – such as seed production, rice milling or industrial farming. He said the MRF will cooperate with the government, international organisations and civil society groups to work out new rice policies.

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