The Ministry of Commerce is planning to remove the ban preventing foreign investors from engaging in trading activities in Myanmar, a senior ministry official said.
The plan, which is still in the pipeline, is expected to help the country increase its export volume, particularly in the agriculture sector, U Toe Aung Myint, director general of the Department of Trade Promotion (DTP) under the ministry, said.
“The agriculture sector will improve in many ways if [foreign] trading is permitted in this sector as the sector has seen little investment and its exports are still low,” he told Myanmar Business Today.
However, he declined to reveal which sectors will be opened up first. “We will disclose [this] later,” U Toe Aung Myint said.
Although Myanmar’s total trade volume continues to rise, export volume hasn’t gone up as expected, negatively impacting the country’s current account balance.
“Removing the ban will relax restrictions on foreign investors who think it is difficult to do business here. We should view it as an opportunity to increase investment for the country and not as a negative,” U Aung Win, secretary of Myanmar Industries Association, told Myanmar Business Today.
Agricultural exports during the first quarter of the current fiscal year have earned only K675.4 million ($696,200), which is down 82 percent from last year. Foreign investment in the sector stood at only K547.9 million ($564,800), highlighting the need for increased investment.
“With the country’s current situation, we have to accept the opening up and reform process. Those who fail to adapt to policy and market trends will be negatively impacted. We cannot always expect the government’s protection,” Dr Tin Htoo Naing, a senior advisor from the German International Cooperation (GIZ), said.
“We can view it as an opportunity to obtain technology as we embrace the change and learn to become more competitive.”