Special economic zone law to be enacted in Myanmar: spokesman

Myanmar will enact a special economic zone (SEZ) law soon, aiming to absorb inflow of more foreign investment into the country to promote its economic development, government spokesman Brigadier-General Kyaw Hsan told a press conference here Thursday.

Kyaw Hsan, also information minister, said that Myanmar had introduced the Foreign Investment Law in November 1988 when the country started to open its door to such investment.

However, due to the call for foreign sanctions against Myanmar by some political organizations at home and abroad, and the economic sanctions imposed by some Western countries led by the United States for its political aim, the volume of such investment brought in was not as much as expected, he said, adding that if it had not been the case, the investment could have surely been more.

In most recent years, contracted foreign investment has been increasing more compared with the past, he said.

According to the latest official statistics, the investment had reached 13.84 billion U.S. dollars as of March this year since 1988. The increase was signified by the 6.03 billion dollars injected by Thailand for a hydropower project this year which also marked the year of absorbing the highest annual foreign investment that the country has drawn since 1988.

It is expected that granting of special privileges to foreign investors setting up SEZ will be contained in the law which directs at the emergence of the exceptional Thilawa SEZ in Yangon's Thanlyin township, the prospective first full foreign investment SEZ in Myanmar.

According to the business circle, the Thilawa SEZ zone, about 25 kilometers (km) south of Yangon and covers an area of 12.8 square-km, will become the first export concentration zone of its kind in the country in which all formalities for export of the zone's products will be handled with one-stop service.

Concerning the Thilawa SEZ, a master plan for the establishment of the zone was designed by Chinese experts for feasibility study for the Myanmar side.

Meanwhile, the establishment of three other Thai-proposed special industrial zones, located in Myawaddy and Hpa-an in southeastern Kayin state and Mawlamyine in southern Mon state is also underway. The project constitutes part of an economic cooperation strategy (ECS) program agreed upon at a summit of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand held in Myanmar's ancient city of Bagan in November 2003.

Under the Ayeyawaddy-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) agreed by the four countries, the three Thai- proposed industrial zone projects are estimated to start in 2007.

The Myawaddy zone covers an area of 173 hectares, while the Mawlamyine zone 124 hectares and Pha-an zone 178 hectares, according to official sources.

Besides, Myanmar is also likely to establish one more special industrial zone in Rakhine state, western part of the country, and invite foreign investment mainly from Bangladesh for the development, local reports said.

As part of its plan of industrial development, Myanmar has established in the early stage 19 local industrial zones across the country with a total of 9,574 industrial enterprises in operation which include small, medium and large businesses.

Of them, the small industrial enterprises are dominating with 57.48 percent, while the medium ones 25.24 percent and large ones 17.28 percent, according to the Industrial authorities.

According to official statistics, Myanmar's industrial sector contributed 17.5 percent to the gross domestic product of the nation in the fiscal year 2005-06 which ended in March and a 19- percent contribution is targeted for 2006-07.

The private sector's contribution to the industrial sector accounts for 92.36 percent, statistics also show.

Source: Xinhua

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