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Business Weekly


Illegal imports down, official trade up

Burma’s foreign trade has increased this fiscal year by almost US$3.5 billion on the same period in 2012-13 with a total trading value of $14.829 billion, according to Nyunt Aung, the deputy-director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, who concluded that one major reason for the official increase was a successful crackdown on illegal imports.


India dreams of pan-Asian gas grid

India is keen to build a 15,000-km gas grid across Asia to connect producers such as Iran, Burma, Bangladesh and central Asian nations with large consumers including itself, China and Pakistan, according to a 25 November report by Economic Times of India citing government officials. The proposal, which revives prospects of India importing gas from Iran and seeks to extend the proposed pipeline from Turkmenistan, has the backing of India’s oil minister Veerappa Moily, the report said, adding that the matter was scheduled to be discussed at the SAARC Energy Ministers Meet in early December but was postponed as some ministers were unavailable.


MRTV invite tenders for new media centre

Burmese government broadcaster Myanmar Radio and Television (MRTV) is inviting tender bids for the construction of a media complex to accommodate the state-run station’s new digital broadcasting system in the MRTV compound in Rangoon. MRTV director-general Myint Aung said at a press conference in Rangoon on 24 November that either domestic or foreign bidders will vie to lease two acres of land owned by MRTV to work on the project. Currently, the Forever Group and Skynet have contracts to use the state-run TV facilitates.


Mercedes-Benz revs up for Burma

Burma’s first ever auto show by Mercedes-Benz will be held in Rangoon’s Mayangon township on the evening of 29 November, according to John Lwin, managing director of the Stars and Models Int’l, hired to host the show. He said the event, which will cost around 600 million kyat (over $600,000), will be “as grand as international auto events”.


IMF’s Christine Lagarde to visit Burma

Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), will visit Naypyidaw and Rangoon on 6- 7 December when she will meet senior government officials, including Vice-President Nyan Tun, Minister of Finance and Revenue Win Shein and Central Bank of Myanmar Governor Kyaw Kyaw Maung, as well as a meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, the IMF announced on Tuesday. French-born Lagarde is also scheduled to pay visits to Phnom Penh and Seoul. “I am very much looking forward to my first trip to Cambodia, Korea and Myanmar as Managing Director of the IMF,” she said, adding that Burma was “undergoing a great awakening to countless possibilities.”


Municipality objects to Rangoon boardwalk plans

A proposal to build high-rise condominiums and shops along Rangoon’s landmark Strand Road has met with objections from the Yangon City Development Committee who say that the project falls within Rangoon’s cultural heritage zone where buildings higher than 160 feet are prohibited, according to the Minister of Transport Nyan Tun Aung. Speaking at a press conference at the Myanmar Port Authority office on Strand Road on 25 November, the minister complained that the municipal office did not raise any objections to the port development project when an invitation for tender bidding was announced last year. Known as the Nan Thidar Project, the development would include a 20-story condominium, a 16-story luxury hotel, a shopping mall, recreation centres, shops, a marina and a pier.


Mitsubishi poised to build power plant at Dawei

Mitsubishi is to team up with two Thai firms – the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) and Italian-Thai pcl – to construct a large fossil fuel-based power plant at Dawei Special Economic Zone in southern Burma, Thai newspaper The Nation reported this week. The project could begin as early as next year and may involve an outlay of some US$10 billion. To help recover investment, the plant will supply 3 million kilowatts within the economic zone and sell the rest to Thailand, the report said. The announcement comes just days after Italian-Thai was relieved of its position as majority shareholder in the SEZ with Japan tipped to take over.


An end to under-the-shelves booze?

An official at the Ministry of Trade and Commerce said a ban on the import of foreign alcohol brands will likely be lifted before the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year. Liquor shops and department stores recently rushed to clear bottles of foreign spirits from their shelves after the government’s so-called Mobile Team pledged to crack down on contraband liquor.


Chevrolet gears up

US-based General Mortars are set to open a Chevrolet showroom in Rangoon in December, according to AA Medical Products, which holds a joint-venture agreement with the automaker. The car showroom will be located inside what is presently the SSS Car Showroom at the intersection of Dhammazedi Rd and Kaba Aye Pagoda Rd in Bahan township. An official from AA Medical Products said the company is also looking to open service centres and auto parts shops. Chevrolet joins an increasingly competitive market with rivals Mercedes, Toyota and Nissan already on the market.


Naypyidaw hotels get ready to roll out the red carpet

Eleven new hotels were opened in Naypyidaw on 26- 27 November in anticipation of the upcoming SEA Games which kicks off on 11 December. The 11 hotels were named as: Mya Nan Yang, ACE, Thurizza, Jade Royal, Aye Chan Thar, Pearl Thiri, Excel Capital, Mahn Myanmar, Mingalar Thiri, New Ayar and Jade City. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism recently confirmed that a sufficient number of accommodations had been built to cope with visiting athletes, tourists and guests at the SEA Games.


Japan, Burma sign rubber MoU

Burma and Japan have signed a memorandum of understanding on the manufacture and export of rubber, according to industry source Investvine. Citing the Myanmar Rubber Planters and Producers Association (MRPPA), the report said the MRPPA signed a four-point agreement with the Japan Rubber Manufacturers Association and the Rubber Trade Association of Japan last Monday at the head office of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Rangoon. The Japanese associations reportedly agreed to help Burma in manufacturing high-quality rubber; in return, Burma is to export the rubber to Japan, said MRPPA secretary Khine Myint.


Burma looks to regain ‘Rice Bowl of Asia’ status

Burma plans to more than double rice shipments by 2020, according to Toe Aung Myint, the director-general of the Department of Trade Promotion at the Ministry of Commerce. Shipments may increase to 2.5 million metric tonnes in 2014 and 2015 from an estimated 1.8 million tonnes in the year that started April 1, he said in an interview with Bloomberg in Hong Kong this week, adding that exports are targeted to increase to 4.8 million tonnes in 2019 and 2020.


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