Nov 19, 2012

How May the Visit by Obama to Myanmar Help Your Company?

Myanmar is opening to foreign investment and the visit by Obama will increase trade and investment opportunities for Western companies. At present most investment is coming from other Asian nations and some large players in the oil and gas industry. The next decade will see a far different Myanmar than we see today. Prior to the present government, Myanmar was the second richest nation in Southeast Asia. As experience in Southeast Asia predicts, these opportunities will be largely won by those that enter the Myanmar market first. The best JV partners will be, largely, won over the next few years. Additionally, the best concessions will be given to first comers. A visit to a hotel in the capital, that just a few years ago contained only a handful of foreign tourists, is now full of foreign business people mainly from Europe, America and East Asia. Some hotels are, now, fully booked. This situation was unheard of only last year. At present, international sanctions in Myanmar prohibit most exports from the country, however, few imports are prohibited from being exported to Myanmar and America and otehr nations have been lifting sanctions of the nation. However, few companies have been willing to export to Myanmar because of fear that selling to the nation may harm companies brand image and the wrongful impression that few export opportunities exist. Once all major sanctions are lifted, it is expected that American, European, Southeast Asian and East Asian companies will follow the handful of companies doing business in Myanmar at this time. The nation has large reserves of oil, gas, timber, fish, rice, and precious and semi-precious gems that have not been exploited effectively in decades. The major challenge to exploitation, as is normally the case, in this part of the world, is infrastructure. The World Bank and Asian development bank are working on projects at this time. The nation, additionally, desperately needs basic consumer products, industrial machinery, and skilled professionals in the service sectors. The country has the resources to purchase these goods and services, but few are selling. At present only a handful of international companies are selling products to Myanmar. The companies include Unilever, Total SA, PTT, CNOOC, and Jebsen & Jessen. China's CNOOC seems to have a very active presence in Myanmar, but the details of their projects are not known. Also, it seems Myanmar businesses have not had good experiences dealing with the Chinese. We will be writing more articles on Myanmar on this blog over the next couple of weeks. As a law firm that loves to do work in Myanmar and loves the kind people, we are looking forward to more benefits trickling down to the people, while assisting clients entering a country with a bright future, proud past and an energetic population. ______ SeanHayes@ipglegal.com IPG is engaged in projects for companies and entrepreneurs doing business in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Korea, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Vietnam and the U.S. www.ipglegal.com