S'pore top foreign investor in Myanmar last year

OCBC chairman Ooi Sang Kuang wants the bank to play a key role in strengthening Myanmar's financial sector.
OCBC chairman Ooi Sang Kuang wants the bank to play a key role in strengthening Myanmar's financial sector.

DPM Teo notes close cooperation in sectors such as education, health, legal and finance

Singapore investors led the world last year among foreign investors entering the newly emerging economy of Myanmar.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said yesterday during a visit to Yangon that bilateral ties between Singapore and Myanmar were growing strongly.

"In the past two years of economic liberalisation, the total inflow of foreign investments into Myanmar has doubled, from US$4 billion (S$5.4 billion) in 2013 to more than US$8 billion last year. More than half came from Singapore, making us Myanmar's top investor last year," he said.

Speaking at the official opening of OCBC's first Myanmar branch, located in Yangon, he noted that the partnerships between the two countries are wide-ranging.

"We are close partners in Asean. We cooperate closely in various sectors, including education, health, legal and finance. Singapore has consistently supported Myanmar's development over the years by sharing our development experiences and providing technical assistance," said Mr Teo.

Reflecting these efforts, the Singapore Cooperation Programme has trained more than 11,700 Myanmar officials in economic and human resource development as well as public administration, he noted.

As Myanmar focuses on infrastructural development, foreign banks such as those from Singapore can also play a role in providing financing in this area, he said.

Two Singapore banks - OCBC and United Overseas Bank - were granted licences last year to operate as institutional and corporate banks in Myanmar.

OCBC's new branch is in central Yangon. At the opening, it signed memoranda of understanding with 10 local banks to collaborate in training and capability building.

It hopes the partnerships will boost Myanmar banks' capabilities in cash management, trade finance and treasury solutions. Institutional demand for financing looks set to boom soon as more capital arrives to tap the country's frontier market potential.

OCBC chairman Ooi Sang Kuang said: "We believe these efforts will significantly contribute to a stronger financial sector that will underpin the growth and development of the Myanmar economy."

Mr Teo commended Singapore banks for their active role in supporting the development of Myanmar, which is crucial, he said, to prospects for the wider region.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2015, with the headline 'S'pore top foreign investor in Myanmar last year'. Print Edition | Subscribe