American packaging and aerospace firm Ball Corporation is to set up a one-line beverage can manufacturing plant in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
This makes Ball the first US company to invest in the much-touted Thilawa SEZ, 20 kilometres southeast of Yangon.
Last month Ball announced that it will open a can plant in Myanmar, without specifying the factory location.
A contract agreement was signed between Ball Corp and the Myanmar-Japan Thilawa Development (MJTD) Co Ltd for the establishment of the plant. The signing came on the heels of US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker’s Myanmar visit earlier this month.
The US Embassy in Yangon said in a statement that the plant will employ local workers and represents a “significant contribution” by a US company to Myanmar’s development.
“The United States believes that responsible investment by US companies in this country can support broad-based economic development, help deepen continued political and economic reforms, and highlight the highest standards of corporate social responsibility,” the statement said.
The one-line plant is expected to begin production in mid-2015 with investment in the factory to the tune of $40 million, Ball Corp said.
The firm will build a facility to produce beverage cans for Coca-Cola Pinya Beverages under a long-term agreement, as well as other local, regional and multinational customers, it said.
During an event highlighting US investment, including Ball’s new plant, Pritzker said the Ball factory opening is “already encouraging further engagement by US firms” that are well-established in Myanmar.
“Coca-Cola is one of these companies. Coca-Cola re-opened operations here in 2012, began manufacturing locally one year ago, and has already committed to buy more than half of the cans produced at Ball’s new facility,” she said.
“When our [American] businesses make investments, they bring with them the highest standards, including a commitment to corporate and social responsibility,” she added.
More than 45 companies from various countries are in the process of setting up manufacturing plants and industries in the SEZ, state-run media reported.
MJTD was formed by two Myanmar companies and two Japanese companies, with stakes split 51 percent for Myanmar and 49 percent for Japan.
The two Myanmar companies are Thilawa SEZ Management Committee and Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings Public Co Ltd (MTSH), while the two Japanese companies include MMS Thilawa Development Co Ltd and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The land lease procedure for Phase 1 of the Thilawa Class A Area, which is about 396 hectares (978 acres), started last month.
The commercial run of the SEZ is expected in mid-2015.