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Business in Burma this week

Ups and downs

The Burmese kyat remains unchanged this week – one US dollar still buys 984 kyat while the selling rate is 987 kyat. The value of gold is up, rising from 652,500 kyat per tical last week to 655,800 kyat this week. Fuel prices remain stable with petrol at 820 kyat per litre, diesel at 950 kyat and octane at 920. Rice too remains the same – high-quality Pawhsanmwe rice selling in Rangoon for 1,200- 1,300 kyat per basket while low-quality Emata rice is priced at 850- 900 kyat.

CNPC crude pipeline 75 percent complete

Welding is complete on the crude oil pipeline reaching from Burma’s western Arakan coast to Yunnan, China, business news site Platts reported on Sunday. The pipeline is part of the Shwe gas and oil project, which also comprises a natural gas transport pipe, a transnational railway, a deep-sea port and several special economic and import zones. Construction on the project commenced in 2009 following an agreement between China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Burma’s state-owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise.

The crude oil pipe will transport resources from the Middle East and Africa while the already-operational natural gas line transports gas from Burma’s Shwe field in the Bay of Bengal. According to Platts, the oil transport system is 75 percent built, and in late 2013 CNPC estimated a June 2014 start date for crude oil pipe operation.

30bn kyat to provide energy, water to rural Burma

Ohn Myint, Minister of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development, said that over 30bn kyat has been allocated to a pilot programme providing electricity, water and other development projects to 1,000 villages in rural Burma. Speaking at a recent rural development meeting in Naypyidaw, the minister said that the development scheme will be launched in January, and will be expanded to include other villages if proven successful.

Hilux ‘line-car’ buses to be replaced on Rangoon streets

The Rangoon divisional government has announced that the Hilux pickup trucks used for public transportation in the former Burmese capital will be taken off the streets at the end of February when they will be replaced by modern mini-buses. The Yangon Division Central Supervisory Committee for Motor Vehicles and Vessels proposed replacing the pickup trucks, popularised in the 1980s, due to their lack of safety and high rate of traffic accidents.

Whisky (could be) a go go!

Burma’s Commerce Minister Win Myint says his ministry has been working on legalising the import of foreign brands of alcohol, including beers and wines, after a recent crackdown in Rangoon by government “mobile teams” that prompted supermarkets and other retailers to remove foreign brands from their shelves. The sale of foreign alcohol and cigarette brands has been banned in Burma since 1996, although some selected hotels were given government import licenses to sell to visitors.

China still negotiating gas import price with Russia

Contrary to earlier reports that China and Russia had agreed on gas import prices, Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday that the two regional giants are still in negotiations that have continued for over ten years. China’s natural gas imports were estimated around 43 billion cubic meters in 2012, a marked increase from previous years, as pipelines from low-cost suppliers like Burma and Turkmenistan have begun shipping resources to the country, adding a more competitive dimension to the Russia-China discussions.

Malaysia’s SCOMI partners with Petronas in Burma’s gas and oil fields

Scomi Energy Services Bhd, a Malaysia-based provider of gas and oil drilling supplies, has secured three-year contracts with Petronas Carigali Myanmar Inc and Petronas Carigali (Hong Kong) Ltd for drilling fluids, waste management equipment, materials and other services. According to press coverage on the Scomi company website, shares have gone up three percent since the deal was made. Pipeline Magazine reported on Thursday that work on the US$27 million deal has already begun.

Japan pledges $96m development aid for Burma’s ethnic states

Japan has pledged 10 billion yen (US$96 million) to develop infrastructure in conflict-torn ethnic regions of Burma, Japanese Ambassador Mikio Numata announced at a press conference on Monday in Rangoon. The assistance will initially provide food and shelter to displaced persons, and later be funneled to road-building, schools, hospitals and other infrastructure, according to Dow Jones. The nearly $100 million is part of a $500 million development package pledged by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last year that included forgiving some $3.7 billion in debt owed by Burma.

Read the full article here.

Floods, insects to hurt Burma’s rice yield in 2014

Rice production in some parts of Burma may decline by up to 43 percent due to flooding and insect attacks, industry news site ORYZA reported on Tuesday. Farmers along the Done-Tha-Mi river in eastern Burma say flooding and insect plagues are likely to cause severe rice shortages. Despite decreased production in some parts of the country, however, US Department of Agriculture projections for nationwide rice production remain unchanged. According to the USDA, Burma’s rice production in 2013-14 is expected to increase to around 11 million tons, up about 3 percent from 2012-13.

Read the full article here.

Burma improving, but still risky for investors: Maplecroft

Burma has been singled out as the most-improved country in the global business environment for 2014 by UK-based risk analyst Maplecroft in its annual Legal and Regulatory Environment Risk Atlas (LRERA). Maplecroft also identified Senegal, Guatemala, Mozambique and Rwanda along with Burma as among the countries with best performance over the last five years. The Maplecroft report also states that while the country is making huge strides to improve business practices, it is still placed in the LRERA ‘extreme risk’ category, with Burma’s rank being 5th from the bottom of the index despite relative improvements.

Read the full article here.



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