He said at a recent press conference the government had approved 129 foreign enterprises to invest $3.5 billion under laws governing home-grown and foreign investment, and allowed $214.08 million of foreign investment in Thilawa under the Special Economic Zone Law. It also allowed nearly $600 million in capital expansion by existing foreign enterprises.
“We are pretty satisfied with the inflow of FDI during the first half. We believe we will be busier in the months to come, as many foreign companies have shown genuine interest in doing business here and we are facilitating FDI,” he said.
“Even at a single meeting [of Myanmar Investment Commission] on September 25, we approved 9 foreign companies to bring in the initial capital of $403.4 million, which would create over 3,200 jobs for locals.”
He added seven out of the companies would operate in the industrial sector while the remaining two would go to property development and the service sector. The investment comes from China, Singapore, Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Additionally, the meeting approved eight citizen investments in four different sectors – industry, agriculture, livestock and fisheries, and other services, which would bring initial capital worth 12.3 billion kyats (Bt300 million). The newly approved citizen investment has created 592 jobs nationwide.
In total, Myanmar approved 1.47 trillion kyats of investment by 53 domestic enterprises within six months from April to September, San Myint said.
“We are happy to see both foreign and citizen investments are on the rise. We are now reviewing 15 investment proposals by foreign companies and 12 by locals. Once we approve them, an additional $400 million in investment will flow into the country,” he said.
According to the official, the garment sector leads the waiting list, mostly with proposals for CMP (cutting, making and packaging) businesses. Electricity, agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors are also ready to welcome new investments.
He considers manufacturing the most important sector to attract FDI in the near future.
“Our investment trend has changed. In the past, most of our FDI had to rely on natural resources – over 35 per cent of FDI were resource-based. Now, manufacturing tops the list of business sectors by securing more than 35 per cent of FDI,” he said.
The official denied some criticisms over the nation’s economic slowdown under its first civilian government. He said Myanmar had received increased investments in the first six months of this fiscal year, when compared to the same period last year.
“Last year, we only received $1.25 million FDI in the first half. So, we increased nearly threefold this year. Citizen investment also sharply increased this year,” he said.
“Among the FDI approved this year, $600 million comes from capital-raising by existing enterprises. Such an improvement is more than satisfactory for a developing country like ours. It obviously shows that they believe in our future and their businesses are doing well here. Who will try to put more money into unprofitable businesses?” he questioned.
Yet, he admitted five states and regions – Kachin, Kayah, Chin, Rakhine and Magwe – are yet to receive foreign investment this year. In this regard, the government will favour the investors who are keen on investing in those regions, San Myint said.
He foresees FDI inflow into Rakhine state once the ongoing conflict there comes to an end. The region’s strategic location would be an attraction for investors, he said.