The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Australia is to provide a combined assistance of $10.5 million to promote private sector development in Myanmar, along with three other countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).
“The private sector in Myanmar is facing a number of challenges to improve productivity and competitiveness,” said Winfried Wicklein, ADB’s Country Director in Myanmar.
“A regional perspective is especially important for Myanmar businesses as the country’s economy opens up and becomes increasingly interconnected regionally and globally.”
ADB’s technical assistance grant of $500,000, with co-financing of $10 million from the Government of Australia, will support the Mekong Business Initiative – a policy advisory and advocacy facility which promotes private sector development in the GMS.
Its work will focus on reforming the enabling and regulatory environment for private business, and creating more cross border opportunities for companies in Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
This will pave the way for Mekong Region firms to take part in regional and global supply chains, the Manila-based lender said.
The start-up of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 is expected to open new opportunities for Myanmar businesses. A strong and fair regulatory environment is deemed important, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who make up well over 90 percent of all businesses and 75 percent of employment in Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
As many of these firms operate informally, they often struggle to obtain access to finance and other support services.
The Mekong Business Initiative will engage closely with Thailand and the People’s Republic of China through the GMS Business Forum. It will also seek partnerships with strong regional and global institutions promoting good business practices. Among the targeted impacts will be an increase in the number of new private companies registered in the four countries and a rise in the number of SMEs which export. The Mekong Business Initiative activities will run from December 2014 to November 2017.