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Myanmar Business News in Brief

Japan, Thailand agree on Dawei SEZ, railway development

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have agreed to promote Dawei Special Economic Zone in Myanmar and develop Thailand’s railway networks, according Japanese media reports. Thailand and Myanmar have been courting Japan in the recent years to get involved in the multi-billion-dollar project that aims to become a production and manufacturing hub for the region. According to a joint statement, Abe and Prayuth “affirmed the importance of promoting the Dawei SEZ project through the trilateral consultation among Japan, Thailand and Myanmar.”

Myanmar in the bottom of economic freedom index

Myanmar came out as the 161st freest economy in the world among 178 countries with a score of 46.9 in Heritage Foundation’s recent Index of Economic Freedom 2015. The score is 0.4 point better than last year due to the country’s improvements in five of the 10 economic freedoms, including freedom from corruption, labour and monetary freedom, which outweigh a substantial decline in the control of government spending. Myanmar ranked 38th out of 42 countries in the Asia–Pacific region, and its overall score is much lower than the regional average. Despite liberalisation Myanmar remains a “repressed” economy due to years of state intervention, poor institutional structures, and autarkic investment and financial regimes, Heritage Foundation said.

Thai distribution and logistics firm launches Myanmar JV

Tiger Distribution & Logistics Co, a subsidiary of Thailand’s Saha Group, has set up a joint venture with local partners to expand its logistics and warehouse business in Myanmar. ICC International Plc, a marketing arm of Saha Group, and Vichien Kantathavorn, founder and managing director of Tiger Distribution & Logistics, together hold a 60 percent stake, while the remaining 40 percent are held by local conglomerate MK Trading Company.

Myanmar may sell baht-denominated bonds

The government could start selling baht-denominated bonds as Myanmar looks to finance its big infrastructure projects. Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission and Myanmar officials have been discussing this option, Vorapol Socatiyanurak, Thai SEC’s secretary general, told Bangkok Post. Investors’ response to Myanmar’s first auction of kyat-denominated bonds in January was lukewarm as the central bank sold less than half the K50 billion worth of treasury bonds on offer.

Laos-Myanmar bridge ahead of schedule, due to open in May

Construction of a bridge linking Laos and Myanmar is set to be completed some three months ahead of schedule, Laos’ state-run media Vientiane Times reported. The Laos-Myanmar Friendship Bridge spanning the Mekong River is expected to see traffic from early May, having originally been scheduled for opening in August. Construction of the $26-million project started in early 2013. The bridge is expected to boost trade, investment and tourism between the countries and help drive economic development. It is set to be 691.6 metres in length and 10.9 metres in width.

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