BURMA BUSINESS WEEKLY 30 MAY


By DVB
Ups and Downs

The Burmese currency continued to fall slightly in value this week; the buying rate finished on Friday at 966 kyat to the US dollar (from 963 last week); while the selling rate rose from 966 to 970 kyat to the dollar. The price of gold has decreased notably: down from 662,700 kyat per tical to 649,800 kyat. Fuel prices remain unchanged: petrol is 820 kyat per litre; diesel 950 kyat; and octane 920 kyat a litre. Rice also remains constant: high-quality Pawhsanmwe rice is selling at 1,300-1,600 kyat per basket while low-quality Manawthukha retails at 900 kyat per basket in most Rangoon marketplaces.



Singaporean oil firm expands in Magwe

Gold Petrol, majority owned by Singaporean conglomerate Interra, has expanded drilling projects in Chauk, Magwe Division. Interra announced to the Singaporean stock exchange on Friday that Gold Petrol has expanded drilling to a fourth oil reservoir in the area, having tapped the previous three in March 2013. Gold Petrol hold a 60 percent stake in the Improved Petroleum Recovery Project at Chauk field, with the other 40 percent owned by the state-owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise.



Foreign firms to be contracted for road construction

The construction of Burma’s roads and bridges can now be outsourced to foreign firms who may also wish to invest in Burma’s infrastructure projects, an official from the Ministry of Construction said. Many of the country’s highways are deemed sub-standard, he said, and with plans afoot to implement international pan-Asian and pan-ASEAN road networks, the ministry has decided to lift the restrictions. Current and proposed highway projects include routes to the borders of China, India and Thailand.



Japanese industrial firm moves into Burma

The Burmese government has approved a large-scale investment project put forward by Japanese multinational corporation Komatsu Ltd. The firm, involved in mining as well as industrial and military manufacturing, intends to construct a power plant and an assembling factory in Pyigyitagon Township, Mandalay. The plan was put forward to the Myanmar Investment Commission, who also approved the company to distribute heavy machinery for industrial use. Komatsu equipment, previously imported from abroad, has been widely used in Burma’s mining sector in the past.



Arakan’s dismal economy due to unrest, VP says

Burma’s Vice-president Sai Mauk Kham, in a meeting with Arakanese locals in state capital Sittwe last week, said the steady decline of GDP in Arakan could be attributed to the destabilising outbreaks of communal violence in the region that began in mid-2012. Previously ranked as second least developed state in Burma above remote Chin State, last year Arakan plummeted to the bottom of the list.



Corn production on the rise in Burma

DuPont, one of the world’s largest chemical and agribusiness corporations, has set up shop in Rangoon, and predicted that corn could become a major crop for Burma. A representative told DVB that based on the company’s experience in neighbouring Thailand, raised income will lead to higher demand for meat, which will lead to higher demand for corn feed.



Pulse price up as Burmese farmers turn to mung bean

The price of a popular Burmese pulse, green gram, has raised dramatically amid falling production rates, Eleven Myanmar has reported. The green gram is a traditional commodity in terms of Burmese exports to India, where it currently fetches upwards of US$750 per tonne, up by around $100 from prices this time last year. The green gram, also known as mung bean, is a staple of many Chinese diets and has taken over as a preferred crop for Burmese farmers. The Burmese mung bean is currently fetching over $1000 per tonne on the international market.



What a load of rubbish! Firms compete to collect Rangoon’s garbage

Seven joint-venture companies have submitted tenders for contracts to operate garbage collecting services in Rangoon. Having paid a bidding fee of five million kyat (US$5,000), the companies have until the end of the year to study garbage collection and disposal procedures by the municipality before they make a presentation outlining their proposals for collecting the rubbish of the city’s six million residents. The contract winner will be announced in December and operations begin on 1 April 2015.



Foreign banks ready for launch

Overseas banks can now register with Burma’s Central Bank to apply for various banking services and operations, according to a Bank official who said that a board had been formed to scrutinise foreign bank operations. Thirty-five foreign banks currently have representative offices in the country, a step that is required before licenses can be granted and branches opened. Bank of India, ANZ and various Thai, Japanese, Korean and Chinese banks are among them.



Kunlong dam gets green light from Burma

Burma’s Ministry of Electric Power has approved the 1,400-megawatt Kunlong hydropower project on the Salween River in northern Shan State, industry news site Hydroworld reported. The project is being developed by a joint venture between Burmese firm AsiaWorld Group and China’s Hanergy Group Holdings, a private company. As much as 90 percent of the energy produced is believed to be bound for China. The project is one of six controversial hydropower plants proposed for the Salween, which is among the last and longest undammed rivers in the world.

By DVB

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