Five-fold jump in FDI in Myanmar, most of it in garment manufacturing

YANGON (REUTERS) - Foreign investment in Myanmar was almost five times higher in the fiscal year from April 2012 to March 2013 than the previous year, figures published on Monday showed, and much of it went into garment manufacturing.

"Local and foreign investment in Myanmar increased by five times in 2012-13," official newspapers reported President Thein Sein as saying in a speech in Mandalay on Sunday.

"Over US$1.419 billion (S$1.7596 billion) in foreign direct investment (FDI) was made for 94 enterprises while local investors made 1.1 trillion kyat (S$1.5 billion) for 65 enterprises, creating a total of 82,792 job opportunities," he said.

A senior official from the Myanmar Investment Commission told Reuters that Myanmar had attracted about US$300 million in FDI for 11 enterprises in the previous fiscal year starting in April 2011.

"The significance of last year's FDI was 78 out of 94 proposed enterprises were in the labour-intensive manufacturing sector, mostly garment factories," he said, asking not to be named since he was not authorised to talk to the media.

Most of the investment in fiscal 2012-13 came from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

"And the realisation rate of proposed enterprises was unprecedentedly high," he said, noting that since 1988, some US$42.31 billion had been pledged for 563 enterprises but only US$32.28 billion had actually been invested.

The outlook is bright, especially after the easing of trade and investment sanctions imposed by Western countries on the military regime that ran Myanmar until March 2011.

"The EU is planning to grant Myanmar GSP status very soon and now more and more potential foreign investors are coming to us from all parts of the world," the investment official said, referring to the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) that offers trade advantages to poorer countries.

The investment climate has also been clarified by a new foreign investment law passed in November 2012.