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Business weekly 9 January 2015

Ups and downs

The Burmese kyat was selling on Friday at 1,033 to US$1 and buying at 1,031. It was selling 773 to 1 SGD and buying at 761. It was selling at 1,219 to 1 Euro and buying at 1,205. The price of gold rose slightly to 665,800 kyat per tical.

Myanmar National Airlines leases 10 Boeing aircraft

Burma’s flag-carrying airline will lease 10 Boeing aircraft from US- and Ireland-based GE Capital Aviation Services, the Ministry of Transport announced via state media on Thursday. Myanmar National Airlines (formerly Myanmar Airways) will receive six 737-800s and four 737-8 MAX airplanes over five years, with the first to arrive in June. The airline currently flies nine aircraft.

Burma’s energy sectors under scrutiny 

The first report from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative is due for release in 2016. Burma’s oil and natural gas, mining, hydro-power and forestry industries will all come under scrutiny by representatives of government, the private sector and civil society, according to an official from the project quoted in Myanmar Business Today on 9 January. They will examine management and government involvement in the companies as well as tax allocation and industry impact on the social economy, said Win Thin.

First nine months of 2014 show $4 billion trade deficit

Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce released on Tuesday reveal that Burma experienced a nearly US$4 billion trade deficit in the first nine months of the fiscal year, according to Burmese state media. From 1 April 2014 to 2 January 2015, total trade volume amounted to $20.9 billion. Exports were $8.6 billion while imports tallied to $12.3 billion.

Rangoon to host oil and gas expo

The Myanmar Oil & Gas Exhibition is set for 29-30 January at Rangoon’s Sedona Hotel, according to a release from organiser Oliver Kinross Ltd. The two-day event will include two training workshops and more than 30 booths. Also on the program are 40 industry speakers, including top-level representatives of Thai state-owned company PTTEP, Daewoo International and Greenfields Petroleum. Attendance is expected to top 400 delegates.

Burma’s rice exports, production up in 2014: FAO 

Despite a global drop in rice production in 2014, Burma has increased cultivation and profits from export, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). In its December World Rice Watch Report, FAO reported that rice production in Burma had been estimated at 28.9 million tons for 2014 by the government, an increase from 28.3 million tons the year before, and up more than a million tons on 2012.

China pledges US$1 billion loan for neighbouring countries

China has pledged over US$3 billion in loans and aid to its neighbouring countries, including Burma. The Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the loans will be split three ways, with $1 billion planned for developing infrastructure, $1.6 billion to increase production and $460 million to alleviate poverty. This will be another incentive for the countries’ neighbouring China to develop regional transport and logistic links as China plans to increase its electricity, telecommunication, steel and cement exports to nearby nations.

Treasury bonds to go on sale

Burma will sell government treasury bonds beginning later this month in a bid to support economic stability, said a report in Xinhua, quoting the Union Daily newspaper. Bonds will be sold through private banks via tender offers beginning on 28 January, according to the Central Bank of Myanmar. Interest rates will be set according to the floating market rate on the day of sale. The Central Bank issued treasury bonds in 1993 and 2010, but low interest rates – between 8.75 and 9.5 percent on two-, three- and five-year bonds – led to low sales.

Bidding open for ‘Death Highway’

The Ministry of Construction is welcoming bids from domestic and international companies to upgrade the Rangoon-Mandalay highway, reported the Global New Light of Myanmar on Tuesday. The winner of the build-operate-transfer contract will turn the existing 589-km (366-mile) expressway into an eight-lane highway equipped with CCTV, guard rails, concrete barriers and fencing. The move comes as Burmese traffic police announced that the so-called “death highway” saw 400 accidents causing 150 deaths and over 800 injuries in 2014.

142 arrested for illegal logging in Kachin

More than 140 people suspected of illegal logging have been arrested in Kachin State, DPA International reported on Tuesday, citing military-run Myawaddy newspaper. The 142 suspects include 102 foreigners, the majority Chinese nationals. Export of teak logs was banned in April of last year, but an official at the forest department was quoted as saying that fighting in Kachin State has made the ban difficult to enforce and fueled the logging trade.

Burma urges international cooperation in energy sector

The Myanmar National Energy Management Committee said it intends to promote international cooperation in the country’s energy sector, Xinhua reported based on an announcement released Wednesday. Toward that end, the committee outlined a nine-point energy policy drafted by Burmese and international experts. Its objective is to privatize state energy organisations according to the State Economic Reform Policy by implementing rules and regulations and a short- and long-term energy development plan.

Burmese gas exports to Thailand expected to decline

Thai state-owned energy company PTT is anticipating imports of Burmese liquid natural gas (LNG) to decline as Burma consumes more domestically and current contracts come to an end, Reuters reported on Thursday. Until now Thailand has relied on its neighbour for about one-quarter of its LNG supply. PTT are also said to be considering a plan to build an LNG receiving terminal on Burma’s coast, adjacent to existing gas pipelines, which would offer a delivery point for fuel from the Middle East.

Development project to jumpstart fisheries in Mandalay

Selected villages in Mandalay Region will receive K30 million each of capital investment in fisheries, state-run media reported on Friday. The funds will be delivered through the Fisheries Department and come from the Emerald Green project, a government programme started this fiscal year to help alleviate poverty in 1,150 villages by developing local agriculture and livestock industries.

Livestock ministry bets on soft-shell crab

Burma plans to develop its soft-shell crab industry in expectation of increased domestic and foreign demand, state-run media reported recently. Statistics from the Myanmar Fisheries Federation show soft-shell crab farming was worth US$50 million in 2013. The Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development says it is meeting with local and international experts to develop a production strategy.

Burma hosts tourism forum in landmark role

On 22- 29 January, Naypyidaw will host the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) for the first time in 34 years since the organisation’s conception. The ATF aims to promote the ten ASEAN nations as a holistic touristic destination, and to encourage intra-ASEAN tourism.

See more: Who will benefit from Burma’s tourism boom? Watch the DVB debate here.



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