Myanmar to create special economic zone in Mon State to attract foreign investors

30, Jul. 2020

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YANGON, NNA – Myanmar is set to develop a new special economic zone (SEZ) strategically located in a coastal area of the eastern Mon State to woo foreign investment.

Located along the intercountry East-West Economic Corridor, the new zone aims to repeat the success of the Thilawa SEZ in creating jobs and business opportunities to spur growth for the emerging economy.

The plan was unveiled by State Counselor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi in a video message shown during an online Myanmar-Japan investment promotion event on Wednesday.

The Myanmar government organized the event jointly with the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) and other Japanese and Myanmar government and business organizations.

Japan supports the new SEZ as it will allow Japanese manufacturers operating in Thailand and the Mekong basin to expand their production units in Myanmar, and also facilitate cooperation between their offices and factories spread out in different parts of Southeast Asia.

Apparently, the Myanmar government is hoping that Japan will invest again in the development of the new SEZ. It is expected to be established near Mawlamyine, the capital of the Mon State.

A deep-water port will be constructed in the zone to enhance economic links between Myanmar and the Mekong basin via land and sea, according to sources familiar with the project.

The East-West Economic Corridor connecting Myanmar to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam is seen as key to further growth for Myanmar.

This month, Myanmar lawmakers approved a huge loan from Asian Development Bank to build an expressway connecting Bago Region and Mon State as part of the corridor.

Investment and Foreign Economic Relations Minister Thaung Tun is confident that the new SEZ will bring greater success as it is easily accessible to the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean too.

In fact, the corridor has played a vital role in promoting logistics between Thailand, the largest hub in Southeast Asia for Japanese manufacturers, and other countries.

The Japanese government has placed priority on assistance for infrastructure developments on the corridor, such as bridges and road improvements.

Japan has also been involved in the development of the Thilawa SEZ, Myanmar’s only successful SEZ. Some 90 companies are already operating in the Thilawa zone. The One-Stop Service Center, the first of its kind in Myanmar, has opened at the SEZ to facilitate quick and easy registration to support investors.

Japanese businesses are keen to invest in Myanmar, even during the current coronavirus pandemic, because of its huge economic potential and favorable investment environment.

While most industries in the country have slumped due to the global contagion, the agriculture and information and communications technology (ICT) sectors have remained strong.

The World Bank has revised Myanmar’s 2019-2020 financial growth from 6.4 percent to 0.5 percent.

Japanese and Myanmar representatives participating in the Myanmar-Japan Investment Dialogue on Economic Recovery after COVID-19 and New Investment Opportunities in Yangon on July 29, 2020. (NNA)
Japanese and Myanmar representatives participating in the Myanmar-Japan Investment Dialogue on Economic Recovery after COVID-19 and New Investment Opportunities in Yangon on July 29, 2020. (NNA)