Phl firms eye investments in Myanmar agri sector

  • 28 November 2016, Monday
27 Nov 2016


Myanmar's new investment law will attract Filipinos to invest in agriculture as foreign companies can be 100 percent foreign- owned and will be freely allowed to export goods including Philippines' top exports banana and coconut.

Myanmar's Yoma Strategic Holdings Co. Ltd ( YSHCL) Agriculture Group chairman Tin Htut Oo assured Filipino companies Myanmar would be a highly favorable investment destination in Asia with its new aggressive market- oriented foreign policy.

Speaking as an awardee of the prestigious D.L.Umali Award of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), Oo said Myanmar's new foreign investment policy would have implementing rules by 2017.

"We're aspiring to be not just a rice bowl but a food basket in Asia," said Oo at Searca's awarding ceremony at its Los Baños, Laguna headquarters.

A major law impacting auspiciously on foreign investments is the Myanmar Foreign Investment Law of 2012 that has just been appended with a Notification 26/2016. Under this, foreign companies in Myanmar may be 100 percent foreign-owned.

"The law was enacted by the parliament. What we need to come up with is the procedure which will come out by 2017. The law provides a lot of benefits and incentives because Myanmar needs investment not only for capital but the technology and market access," Oo said in a separate press briefing.

Rice is one prospective foreign investment commodity.

"Philippines is a rice importing country. Myanmar is a rice surplus country. For Filipino entrepreneurs, why not come to Myanmar and invest? You grow it (in Myanmar). We buy it. We mill it, and we export it to the Philippines," said the SEARCA awardee who has been globally recognized for his contribution to Myanmar's agriculture sector.

Coconut and banana plantation establishment for which Philippines has global leadership in are also top farm products Filipino companies can invest in in Myanmar, he said.

"You are successful in coconut (in which) you have downstream businesses. We're not utilizing coconut as much as the Philippines. It's not a commercial crop. Filipino entrepreneurs can turn our industry (into a commercial one)," Oo added.

SEARCA director Gil Saguiguit Jr. said in the same briefing both Myanmar and the Philippines can have partnerships that can take advantage of the prevailing ASEAN economic integration.

"In view of the ASEAN Economic Community, we're taking the value chain to develop our agriculture sectors. The ASEAN is a common market for us. That's where you address comparative advantage," Saguiguit said.

Another new law in Myanmar that Filipino companies should check in with regard to investment is the Citizens Investment Law of 2013. It allows for partnerships Myanmar citizens and government can enter into particularly on BOO-BOT (build own operate; build operate transfer) contracts.

The law is helping build skills base of Myanmar's people, aside from raising capital and enabling technology transfer.

Filipino companies in Myanmar will be allowed to export goods from Myanmar as production origin.

"Myanmar already liberalized all export of agricultural commodities. We're more liberalized compared to Vietnam. Myanmar has private companies exporting rice. The government's role is to make the environment conducive to investors. The new law creates a level playing field (for private and public players)," Oo said.