State Counsellor meets with Japanese PM, attends 2nd Myanmar Investment Conference
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the State Guest House in Tokyo yesterday morning during her visit to Japan to attend the enthronement ceremony of Emperor Naruhito.
At the meeting, they discussed promoting cooperation between Myanmar and Japan, fostering economic relations between the two countries including the Thilawa Industrial Zone, continuing Japanese assistance to the peace process in Myanmar and the Rakhine issue, and collaboration in the regional and international arenas.
The State Counsellor also received, Mr Kazushige Nobutani, President of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and party at the Meiji Kinenkan Hall in Tokyo.
The meeting focused on possible investments of Japanese companies and businesspersons in Myanmar, especially in agriculture, livestock and manufacturing sectors. They also discussed JETRO’s projects in Myanmar.
The meeting was also attended by Union Minister U Kyaw Tint Swe, Deputy Minister U Set Aung, Myanmar Ambassador to Japan U Myint Thu and officials.
In the afternoon, the State Counsellor delivered an opening speech at the 2nd Myanmar Investment Conference held in the Meiji Kinenkan Hall.
The following is the keynote speech of State Counsellor.
Secure investment opportunities in Myanmar
I am delighted to be with you once again here in Japan and I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to the Government of Japan and JETRO for organizing this important event.
I see a room filled with investors and business people, policy makers and professionals who share a common goal, that is to secure investment opportunities in Myanmar and to help us build a favorable investment climate through which a prosperous, peaceful and democratic Myanmar can emerge.
Please be assured your presence here today, and your presence in Myanmar, are most welcome. Please also be assured of our strong commitment to create a favorable, facilitative and friendly investment climate that will open up more investment opportunities for you.
Our friends from Japan have been generous with their support to Myanmar throughout past decades and this support endures to this day, as we chart a course through a challenging period in our nation’s democratic transition.
Growth rate will maintain an impressive 6.8 percent
Myanmar today, having emerged from self-imposed isolation, having opened our economy, having embraced liberal economic principles, and having sought to become a responsible and engaged member of the international community, must also manage a delicate balance between economic growth and stability.
Figures recently released by the Asian Development Bank forecasts that Myanmar’s growth rate will maintain an impressive 6.8 per cent in 2019 making us the 3rd fastest growing economy in ASEAN and we will be the fastest growing economy in the region by 2020. (The average growth for South East Asia next year is expected to be just 4.6 per cent.)
Strong and prolonged growth has enabled an unprecedented structural shift in Myanmar’s economy. Importantly, this structural shift occurs just as the global centre of economic gravity is tilting back toward a rising Asia – an Asia which today accounts for almost 50 per cent of global investment and is expected to exceed 50 per cent of global GDP by the year 2040.
The impact of these geo-political tectonic shifts can already be seen in some places in the form of rising economic and trade tensions felt throughout both the developed and developing world. Indeed, Myanmar is not by any means insulated from these global events. However, we have so far managed to weather the storm.
Yet, as we continue to open up our economy, and to integrate better into the global community, we find that globalization itself is being challenged. Likewise, we continue to grapple with multiple, historical legacy issues — remnants of past grievances which were allowed to accumulate unaddressed over five decades.
Thus, the challenge for Myanmar’s planners and policymakers, and for our country more broadly, is to ensure that we take full advantage of this period of dynamic change and tremendous opportunity, without losing sight of the importance of stability.
We in Myanmar believe that quality investment, one that is responsible and sustainable, can and must play a role, and it is for this reason that I value forums such as this. We can offer participants a chance to capitalize on Myanmar’s new found economic vibrancy. At the same time, it gives us an opportunity to highlight sectors where the right mix of reform, ambition and political will can unlock additional opportunities.
MSDP will shape development for decades to come
Myanmar is today pursuing abroad-based, equitable, responsible, sustainable and inclusive growth strategy. To guide these efforts, we launched last year our new Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan which puts into place the essential building blocks that will shape Myanmar’s development for decades to come.
In line with our MSDP, we have introduced a range of ambitious, holistic and inclusive policies and regulations,each carefully crafted to promote best business practices as well as to incorporate good governance. In addition, procedures are being streamlined to remove bottlenecks and accelerate reform implementation.
We have been both aggressive and strategic in liberalizing various key economic sectors. Our insurance sector, for example, has recently been liberalized, allowing for 100 per cent foreign owned life insurance companies to operate in Myanmar. Japan’s Dai-ichi Life is one of the first of those.
We have done away with unnecessary regulations, launched a new online business registration portal, formed a new investment and development finance-focused Ministry and issued a new Investment Promotion Plan.
In our banking sector, in addition to the 13 existing 100 per cent foreign bank branches currently operating in Myanmar, we are looking to allow more foreign banks to operate, either as branches or subsidiaries.
Other recent developments include but are not limited to the realization of our Project Bank which aims to create more transparent, predictable and competitive project identification and procurement, and a new Land and Property Bank that will expedite processes that involve the lease of state-owned land and properties through centralized electronic means. These are ambitious projects that will no doubt mark a significant and very positive change in our investment landscape.
Single Window System in operation at Thilawa SEZ
With a view to providing the type of timely support that our investors require, we are planning to convert the existing One-Stop- Service-Centre housed within the Myanmar Investment Commission into a single window system where all permits and license required by investors can be applied for, and granted, without the need to visit additional government agencies.
The efficacy of this approach has been proven within our Thilawa Special Economic Zone and we are confident that it will be successful when introduced at the MIC, and in other economic zones in due course.
Japanese investors will be familiar with the Single Window System currently in operation at Thilawa SEZ, which is attracting an ever-increasing number of Japanese and other firms to the outskirts of Yangon. This has resulted in investments amounting to some US$ 1.86 billion as of 30thSeptember 2019. The well known Japanese automobile manufacturer, Toyota, recently announced its intention to invest several billion Yen in an assembly plant within the Thilawa SEZ, an investment likely to bring with it a range of related industries.
Investments made by Toyota, Suzuki, Yakult and other major Japanese firms, I believe, demonstrate investor confidence in what we are doing in Thilawa and in Myanmar.
Myanmar is ready to welcome all investors
Myanmar is in the process of transforming an opaque, non- competitive, connections-based economy into a larger,more transparent, more competitive, rules-based economy. This transformation is not easy, but all must seek to go beyond their comfort zone if we are to succeed.
The Government of Myanmar is ready to welcome all investors, both foreign and local, as we make our way through this transformation together, hand-in-hand.
We welcome you and your presence in Myanmar. And please be assured that you are not alone. You have partners and friends who are willing and able to lend youth at essential helping hand, and who are committed to providing you with every possible support to assist you in your business ventures.
We welcome Responsible investment
Despite recent progress, we recognize that challenges remain – challenges which we can and must overcome. Responsible investment can play an important role in this regard.
We seek the type of responsible investment that creates jobs, provides new opportunities, sustains growth, and spreads prosperity for all. We welcome your investments with enthusiasm and confidence.
We sincerely hope that we will continue to receive the support and understanding of our friends around the world, including Japan, on our journey toward peace and prosperity.
I invite you to become part of our very positive future. I wish you all good health, happiness and prosperity. Thank you very much.
After the speech, the State Counsellor posed for documentary photos with participants and guests attending the conference.
The second part of the meeting was then continued where Union Minister U Kyaw Tint Swe explained about Myanmar’s economic and investment policy reforms, and advantages for investors included in the Myanmar Investment Law and Myanmar Companies Law.
This was followed by JETRO Managing Director Mr Kazufumi Tanaka explaining about Japanese companies investing in Myanmar and investment opportunities.
A discussion entitled “How Japanese companies investing in Myanmar view the investment and economic environment in Myanmar” was then held.
Deputy Minister U Set Aung, Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry President U Zaw Min Win, officials of Japanese companies investing in Myanmar and the JETRO Managing Director participated in the discussion.
A total of more than 700 persons including business persons from Japan and Myanmar and invited guests attended the discussion.
Later in the evening the State Counsellor went to the Myanmar embassy in Tokyo and cordially met with staff and family members of Myanmar embassy and military attaché’s officeled by Myanmar Ambassador to Japan U Myint Thu. Afterwards, the State Counsellor attended a dinner hosted by the Myanmar embassy.