Ups and downs
The Burmese currency is currently trading at 1,080 kyat to the US dollar, slightly weakening for the fourth consecutive week. But the price of gold continues to rise at Rangoon markets, now selling at 691,000 kyat per tical whereas it stood at 673,428 kyat per tical a fortnight ago.
Burma as 21st century rice bowl
Burma’s rice exports last year leapt 50 percent on the previous year, reaching their highest level for over 50 years, according to commerce officials. Once known as ‘the rice bowl of Asia’, the country’s trade in the grain diminished under military rule. In the last fiscal year exports hit more than 1.80 million tonnes, worth over US$65 million, Reuters cites an official as saying. Increased mechanisations, greater access to international markets such as China and the European Union and more imported materials are attributed with the growth.
Telenor posts record high revenue
Norwegian telecoms giant Telenor has reported ‘all-time high’ revenues in its financial results for the first three months of 2015, noting a ‘significant contribution’ from its Burmese operations despite start-up costs in the nascent market. For the quarter ending 31 March 2015 Telenor reported a total turnover of US$3.89 billion, more than 19 percent up on its figures from the same period a year earlier.
Rent in Rangoon continues to rise
Although the real estate market in Rangoon has markedly cooled over the last year, the rental market continues to increase, according to Myanmar Real Estate Services Association Chairman Khin Maung Than. “More than one million out of Rangoon’s seven million population rent rooms or houses. On top of that, an additional 30,000 people come to the city each year. While we cannot fulfill the demand, rents will continue to go up.”
Carlsberg opens beer factory in Pegu
Carlsberg opened its first beer production plant in Burma on Thursday, a $75 million plant in Pegu [Bago], DPA has reported. The Danish group, which is the world’s fourth largest producer of beer, holds 51 percent of a joint venture with Burmese partner Myanmar Golden Star, and aims to produce 60 million litres per year. “We are producing three kinds of beer here – the flagship Carlsberg brand, the Tuborg brand and new brand Yoma,” said Thein Tun, chairman of the JV.
Singapore’s MDR looks to Burma’s advertising potential
Singaporean telecommunications and electronics firm MDR Ltd announced on Tuesday the setting up of a digital inkjet printing business in Burma to cater for outdoor advertising such as billboards, Business Times reported. Acting through its subsidiary Pixio, the new entity Pixio Myanmar Co will be based in Rangoon and aims to provide graphic design solutions and large-format digital inkjet production for retail advertisements and promotional signages in Burma. MDR first entered Burma in 2013 to provide after-market service for Nokia products.
Mandalay officials rely on illegal goods tip-offs
Illegal goods including jade and timber seized at Mandalay’s airport and jetties between November and April were worth around 150 million kyat (US$150,000), according to officials. Maj. Aye Min Oo, deputy-director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, told DVB that crackdown operations have suffered from a shortage of staff, and are increasingly reliant on tip-offs from members of the public about shipments and bribery. Illegal items, the majority heading to China, are usually transported over land trade, including routes through Muse, Madaya, Sagaing and Meikhtila.
Irrawaddy gets 6 bn kyat development budget
Burma’s union government has allocated a budget of 6 billion kyat (US$6 million) to Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) Division for the 2015-16 fiscal year. Some 1.5bn kyat will go towards poverty alleviation; 1bn for farmland creation; 1.5bn kyat for construction of a new district commune government office; 2bn kyat for a housing plan.