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Business weekly 19 June

Ups and downs

The Burmese currency on Friday was valued at 1,110 kyat per US dollar; 1263.2 per euro and1763.9 per pound sterling. Gold was buying at 40,823.06 kyat per gram, and selling at 45,120.22 kyat per gram.

Central Bank moves to prevent commodity price hike

The state-owned Central Bank of Myanmar on 17 June announced that it will begin the unrestricted sale of foreign currencies to fuel and edible oil importers, allowing them to continue international trading in the face of an expensive dollar and other currencies, according to state-run media. “Hikes in foreign currency rates can cause fuel and edible oil prices to skyrocket, leading to jumps in demand and an increase in commodity prices. We are trying to prevent this by facilitating the unrestricted sale of currency required for these imports,” said Central Bank Deputy Governor Sett Aung.

 Daewoo CEO dismissed over Burma sale criticisms

Daewoo International CEO Jeon Byeong-eal has been dismissed after openly disapproving of plans to sell off the company’s stake in a Burmese natural gas project. Daewoo’s primary stakeholder, the South Korean based steelmaker, has been considering selling a gas project which has been operating in waters off the coast of Burma since 2013. POSCO reportedly requested the resignation of the CEO after Jeon posted a message on the company’s bulletin board critising POSCO management for the sale.

Burma-India transport project underway

Plans are underway for a new transport project in Chin State, which aims to connect the western Burmese states with neighbouring India, according to state media. Deputy Minister for Transport Han Sein reportedly announced the project’s implementation plans to parliament on Tuesday, saying that the new transport system will link Chin and Arakan states with the eastern Indian seaport of Kolkata, as well as the landlocked northeastern state of Mizoram.

Burma eyes summits as PR opportunity

Burma is looking to host two regional summits next week in a PR-push to boost the “good image” of the country amongst its neighbours, state media reported. The Global New Light of Myanmar said on Wednesday that Naypyidaw has been making efforts to host the 7th Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam Summit and the 6th Ayeyarwady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Strategy Summit, both of which are scheduled on the 22 and 23 June. Around 175 local and foreign journalists are expected to cover the summits.


Burma’s gas exports worth millions

Burma’s gas exports bring in approximately $170 million per month, according to the Myanmar Times. The news group reported on Monday that Burma is the largest gas exporter in Southeast Asia, citing data from the Ministry of Energy Data saying 1.6 billion cubic feet of gas is pumped out every day to Thailand and China. It’s estimated that up to 70 percent of Burma’s total gas output is exported directly to Thailand.

 Thai-Burma agreement inked on energy cooperation

Energy officials from Burma and Thailand on 15 June signed a memorandum of understanding on a continuation of cooperation between the two countries’ energy sectors. The Thai Minister for Energy Narongchai Akrasanee met with Burma’s ministers for electric power and energy Khin Maung Soe and Zeyar Aung in Naypyidaw. Amongst the aims of the agreement are to ensure an adequate energy supply for both countries, and develop infrastructure and human resources.

Health insurance to go on sale

Citizens and foreign residents of Burma will be able to buy health insurance as of 1 July as part of a one-year trial period. Twelve companies will sell policies starting at 50,000 kyat, with those aged six to 65 eligible for cover, according to state media. As well as being able to purchase the product in-branch direct from insurers, licensed brokers will be permitted to make sales at a rate of ten percent commission.

Burma’s AIIB coffers confirmed

Burma will invest US$264.5 million in the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) over the next ten years, parliament has agreed. Xinhua reports that according to Minister of Finance and Revenue Win Shein 20 percent of the amount will be contributed up front, with further payments made each year. Regarded as a potential rival to the World Bank, the AIIB’s mandate is to finance infrastructure projects on the continent and is expected to be fully operational by the end of the year. 

Climate change blamed for cost of delectable durians

Farmers in the durian growing heartland of Thandaunggyi Township in Karen State are blaming climate change for pushing up the regional price of the fruit. Known as ‘the king of fruits’, yields of the yellow-fleshed delicacy have been low because of higher temperatures in which plants decline their productivity, state-owned Global New Light of Myanmar reports. Toungoo vendors are reportedly selling the fruits at about 6,000 kyat each.


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