Seventy percent of Asian business leaders said they plan to expand into Myanmar within the next 12 months, affirming that the Southeast Asian country remains a key investment hotspot for companies looking for regional growth opportunities, a survey revealed.
The survey, conducted among key decision makers of Asian companies with an annual turnover of S$50 million or more, found that the two most compelling reasons behind their focus on Myanmar were the opportunity to provide goods and services to the country’s growing middle class (46 percent) and the significant business opportunities present as a result of the country’s rapid transformation (41 percent), the survey results show.
Singapore-based United Overseas Bank Ltd (UOB) conducted the survey with more than 100 of its corporate banking and commercial banking customers when they attended an investment seminar in Yangon in late February.
Ivan Chu, business operations manager, Soon Hong Seng Pvt Ltd, a hardware tools and safety equipment supplier, said: “Myanmar’s fast-growing economy and its need for infrastructural development mean that there is a ready market for our hardware tools and safety products.
“This, combined with competitive labour costs and young and vibrant workforce, makes Myanmar an attractive expansion destination for our manufacturing business.”
However, as with any emerging economy going through a rapid transformation, Myanmar faces the challenges of changing local laws and investment regulations.
Sam Cheong, executive director and head of group FDI Advisory Unit, UOB Group, said, “The business opportunities in Myanmar are real and so are the risks and challenges.
“As Myanmar’s pace of economic and social transformation has accelerated over the last two years, UOB too has looked to strengthen its support for businesses expanding into this market.” Last year, UOB established an FDI Advisory Unit in Myanmar to help existing and potential clients to invest in the country.
Business leaders in the survey cited their top concerns when expanding into Myanmar as limited bank financing options (61 percent) and the lack of clarity around local laws and regulations (53 percent).