Myanmar Monitor


Photo credit: The Nation

Economy, Investment and Trade

Myanmar to speed up railway reforms
(19 February 2018) Myanmar plans to improve its railway sector by investing in infrastructure development over the next five years. Senior General Manager and Project Director at Myanmar Railways Ba Myint said US$2.4 billion (Kyat75 billion) would be invested in refurbishment of railway stations, maintenance and modernization of existing facilities and system. The government has stated that it is open to any technical and financial aids from foreign countries and donor organisations including Japan, Korea and Asian Development Bank. In 2017, there were more than 47 million passengers carried by state-owned trains, and it is expected to grow every year due to increasing internal migration.
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New export products to reduce trade deficit
(19 February 2018) The Myanmar government will target a new list of products for exports in order to counter the country’s widening trade deficit. Myanmar Ministry of Commerce (MOC) will include the list under the National Export Strategy. Director general of the Myanmar Trade Promotion Organisation U Aung Soe said the new list will include fruits, handicrafts, gems, jewellery, processed food products and IT services.
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Kyat to remain stable
(19 February 2018) Myanmar kyat is currently at its strongest level against the US dollar, which is now set at K1,328 per dollar. Economic Advisor to the Myanmar State Counsellor Sean Turnell said the Central Bank has decreased money printing from 60 percent of GDP to 40 percent of GDP, which has seen inflation level fall below 5 percent in 2018 compared to 16 percent in 2016. Turnell said despite concerns of currency depreciation, kyat has been remarkably stable over the last year. In July 2016, the kyat traded at around K1,360 per dollar.
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SMEs call for greater access to loans by foreign banks
(20 February 2018) Start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Myanmar have called for equal treatment of foreign and local banks by the Central Bank so that they are provided with more options to borrow money. The business community wants the Central Bank of Myanmar to provide similar benefits enjoyed by local banks to the foreign banks as it will give them a higher chance of obtaining loans at a more competitive interest rate. Some local businesses are finding it hard to gain 10 percent profit margin after paying taxes, wages and other expenses while lending rates of 13 percent puts pressure on the bottom line.
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Israel to help build post harvest warehouses in Mandalay
(19 February 2018) To help farmers with post-harvest production in the Mandalay Region, an Israeli company is in talks with the Myanmar government to build warehouses within a year. Estimated to cost from US$10 million to US$20 million, the project will be carried out with a local partner. Deputy Head of Mission at the Israeli embassy in Yangon Nir Balzam said his government is also helping the Myanmar Agriculture Ministry in Mandalay by sending students to Israel to learn more about farming. Israeli expertise and technology in agriculture is helping Myanmar to reform its vast agriculture sector.
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