More Japanese companies to invest in Myanmar: Thilawa Special Economic Zone

More Japanese companies to invest in Myanmar: Thilawa Special Economic Zone

Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Increasing numbers of Japanese companies are investing in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Myanmar. Of course, this SEZ is especially important for Japan because it highlights the importance of Myanmar to political elites based in Tokyo. Hence, since the inception of the project that was announced in 2011, the joint venture between the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Japan External Trade Organization had a shared vision. This vision continued to develop because after the initial inception the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings, the Japan Thilawa SEZ Company, and the Thilawa SEZ Management Committee took control of this important project a few years after this SEZ was announced.

Of course, with powerful Japanese business backing from Marubeni, Mitsubishi, and Sumitomo, then not surprisingly their collective sway is impacting on other Japanese companies investing in the Thilawa SEZ. At the same time, the close political and economic relations that exist in Japan between the upper echelons – when it comes to international investment projects – equates to a bright future for the environs of Yangon. Equally, the bridge being developed by the current 45 Japanese companies that will invest in this special SEZ bodes well for other projects throughout Myanmar.

The Secretary of this SEZ Management Committee, Dr. Shwe Hein, uttered, “Most companies entering the zone are from Japan. There are about 45 to 47. They mostly invest in (the) manufacturing sector.”

In time, approximately 150 international companies will invest in this SEZ. Hence, according to the government of Myanmar, it is hoped that this will generate around US$1.7 billion dollars of investments. Similarly, the knock-on-effect for the environs of Yangon will be extremely positive.

The Joint-Secretary of the Thilawa SEZ Management Committee, Dr. Than Than Thew, stated, As a successful project, investments were made to the tune of $1.2 billion in Zone A, and 96 percent of the plots have been leased, while the remaining 4 percent is under negotiation. Many huge companies have come here, and we have granted permissions for 90 kinds of businesses to 16 countries. Many factories and workshops, including 40 kinds of businesses, are being operated currently. Among them, some four factories are exporting goods to other countries.”

Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and other nations, have joined the initiative of Japan and Myanmar. This says much about the future of Myanmar because many nations are focused on increasing their respective investments in this nation. Likewise, China is focused on increasing its economic ties with Myanmar based on different economic projects and long-term plans.

In another article by Modern Tokyo Times, it was stated, “Investments by Japan in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone are a springboard to how public-private initiatives between Japan and Myanmar can boost this developing nation. Hence, while projects will vary, it shows how both nations can compliment each other by focusing on respective strengths and know-how. Therefore, with many powerful Japanese companies investing in Myanmar and the three main Japanese banks being involved, the future looks positive.”

Overall, it is hoped that business ties between Japan and Myanmar will continue to flourish. Similarly, with China and Singapore, and other powerful regional economic powers increasingly focusing on Myanmar, then it is hoped that this will ignite internal innovation and competition – along with developing the infrastructure to a higher degree.

Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group

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