HA NOI — Domestic enterprises should increase their business dealings with Myanmar as the country becomes more open to foreign investors, experts said.
Tran Phuoc Anh, a Viet Nam trade counsellor in Myanmar, said that the time it takes to receive an investment licence from the Government has recently been reduced from six months to only two weeks.
Anh said the Myanmar Government would not set a maximum capital contribution for foreign investors and would also increase the period of tax exemption from five to eight years. The investors would also be able to lease land in 50-year blocks instead of the current 30-year system.
Anh said that the new policies had caused many foreign firms, including those in the US, to eye the 55 million person market. He noted that if Vietnamese firms were slow to act, they would lose opportunities there.
Senior economist at the Viet Nam Trade Institute Pham Tat Thang confirmed that countries around the world were sending delegations to Myanmar and foreign firms were taking note of the nation's minerals, telecommunications, tourism, infrastructure and commodities.
If US and EU sanctions on Myanmar are lifted, the market would become even more attractive to foreign investors, Thang said.
Vietnamese firms have an advantage in Myanmar thanks to a good relationship between the governments of the two countries, Thang said, and the Vietnamese Government should continue to create the most favourable conditions for domestic firms to do business there.
Thang said that Vietnamese steel, garments, medicine, construction materials, fertiliser, food and woodwork products are already present in Myanmar, but even those industries have not been exploited fully.
Myanmar is a large potential export market for Vietnamese products as the country has to import up to 70 per cent of its consumer goods, he said.
Besides exports, Anh also urged domestic firms to invest in Myanmar's fledgling industries of agriculture, aquaculture, electronic production, auto manufacturing and infrastructure development.
Anh said that Myanmar had not yet allowed foreign banks to set up in the country, but the Myanmar government affirmed that it would give Vietnamese banks priority if permission is granted in the near future.
Leaders of Viet Nam and Myanmar have recently agreed to focus on the 12 prioritised co-operative areas defined in the joint declaration issued in April 2010 and raise two-way trade volume from the current US$150 million to $500 million by 2015. Myanmar encourages Vietnamese businesses to invest in agriculture, infrastructure development and gas exploration. — VNS