More than 100 prospective investors interested in doing business in Myanmar recently joined the “Bangkok Bank Brings Asia to Myanmar” event in Yangon.
The organiser, Bangkok Bank, brought in local businesspeople from various industries, including food and beverages, agriculture, construction, tourism and hotels, auto parts, plastics and chemicals, and design and décor.
“We are organising many activities to support the country’s economic development and help our customers get to know the country’s potential and connect their businesses here,” Bangkok Bank President Chartsiri Sophonpanich said.
“We were one of the lead sponsors of the Myanmar Global Investment Forum, which was held in Nay Pyi Taw. We took our SME customers to Myanmar to explore business opportunities. We have held various seminars about Myanmar for customers, businesspeople and the general public in Bangkok.”
The event also included a visit to the Thilawa Special Economic Zone and local markets, and a seminar that featured speakers from both Thailand and Myanmar.
“Knowing that we have had a representative office in Myanmar for close to 20 years, customers of our overseas branches, especially from Japan and Singapore, have been asking about Myanmar’s development and prospects,” Chartsiri said.
“Some of them are keen to travel to Myanmar to witness our development themselves. This trip was intended to help support our existing customers overseas so that they can learn first-hand from knowledgeable speakers about the business prospects in Myanmar.”
The bank aims to engage in every permitted banking operation, including providing loans, if it can receive one of Myanmar’s highly-coveted foreign banking licences, Chaiyrit Anuchitworawong, executive deputy president, said.
Bangkok Bank is one of 25 banks shortlisted by the Central Bank to operate in Myanmar. If selected, it expects to provide lending services and focus on financial services for imports, exports and transactions, Chaiyrit said at the event.
The shortlisted banks are from South Korea, Japan, India, Australia, France, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam.
The Myanmar Central Bank is expected to grant licenses to 5 to 10 banks in September, where the selected banks will be limited to one branch and permitted to only operate wholesale banking services.
Although the entrance of foreign banks will provide technical support to the financial system, local banks need support and protection from the Central Bank to avoid a collapse of the domestic system, a local banker said.
Established in 1944, Bangkok Bank’s total assets as of March were over $75 billion. It has more than 1,150 domestic branches and an international network of 27 overseas branches. Bangkok Bank opened a representative office in Myanmar in 1994.
Chartsiri said: “Our long-established presence in Myanmar means our people on the ground have been working for us for a long time, know their markets well, and are ideally placed to support customers and investors particularly in the growing economies of Southeast Asia.
“Our focus is to provide services that meet the needs of our customers, namely Thai customers growing their international presence; multinational businesses with whom we have had a long and productive relationship, such as our Chinese customers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia; and local customers in countries where we have a base.”