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NEWS UPDATES 14 July 2010

Diplomat says Myanmar offers export, investment opportunities

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Myanmar is a promising market for investment and export, the Vietnamese ambassador to that country told a meeting in HCM City yesterday and reported by the Vietnam News.

Chu Cong Phung said with its population of 56 million, Myanmar is a large market for consumer products since its local production only meets 13 per cent of demand.

Two trade fairs held to promote Vietnamese products in Yangon last September and April were very successful, with everything selling out in two days, he said.

Many Myanmarese importers want to import Vietnamese products because of their quality, range, and reasonable prices, he said.

Myanmar has abundant natural resources, including land, water, forests, natural gas and coal, petroleum, minerals and marine resources — its rubies are among the best in the world — but most remain untapped, he said.

The country also has good human resources that are relatively skilled and adapt quickly to new working environments, while English is commonly spoken, he said.

He urged Vietnamese firms to study investment opportunities by making business trips to Myanmar, which needs investments in many fields, including services and tourism, he added. Tu Minh Thien, director of the HCM City Investment and Trade Promotion Center, agreed saying it is a good time for Vietnamese companies to promote trade and investment to Myanmar. He said among sectors they can invest in are mining, forestry exploitation, agriculture, aquaculture and processing, telecommunication, tourism and health-care services. Myanmar also has a large demand for electrical and electronic products, pharmaceutical, and medical equipment, steel, plastic products, building materials, and others, he said. Challenges

Phung admitted, however, there will be hassles like tortuous import licensing procedures and difficulties in getting payments when doing business in Myanmar. U.S. and EU sanctions against that country pose difficulties in making or getting payments, he explained.

But to get around the problem, Vietnamese firms should strictly follow guidelines from the Vietnamese embassy in Myanmar and the Ministry of Industry and Trade and do financial transactions only through designated banks, he said. The Bank for Investment and Development of Viet Nam has opened a representative office in Myanmar, he said, hoping it will be permitted to run banking services after elections end in the country later this year. That will smoothe the way for financial transactions and boost investment and trade between the two countries, he said.

Trade between the two countries was worth just US$74 million last year, low compared with other countries, according to Bui Ngoc Trung of the Ministry of Industry and Trade. It topped $58 million in the first half of this year, with Viet Nam's exports being worth $16 million, he said.

Myanmar's main exports to Viet Nam are wood and forestry products, natural rubber, and seafood. It imports steel products, cement, processed foods, plastics, pharmaceuticals, and electrical goods and appliances.

According to the Association of Vietnamese Investors in Myanmar, Vietnamese enterprises have pledged investments of nearly $1 billion in Myanmar this year.

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