SITUATED on the western coast of Myanmar, Rakhine State with its population of around 3.2 million is crucial for Myanmar’s economy and has plenty of potential for fast economic growth. Rakhine State can easily be accessible by land, waterways and air routes. Rakhine State serves as a gateway to the Indian Ocean because it is strategically and geographically located between China and India, the fastest growing economies in Asia and Myanmar’s neighbouring countries. Rakhine State has several investment opportunities for local and foreign investors in various sectors.
Special economic zone projects to be established in Rakhine State are expected to become a major resource that can boost economic growth, create job opportunities and bring new hopes for local people. It will also encourage an investment chain for small and medium-sized enterprises in Rakhine State. Real estate, infrastructure, education, healthcare services, electricity generation and distribution, garment and textile industry, fishery, forestry, livestock breeding and agriculture sectors are among the promising businesses for investors at home and abroad who want to inject their money into development projects in Rakhine State. Entrepreneurs and developers have been invited to invest in construction of roads, airports, industrial zones, new towns, and beach resort projects as well hotels and tourism industry in Rakhine State. Rakhine State has many investment opportunities and is an area rich in natural resources such as oil and gas reserves and many others as well.
Due to potential market and economic growth coupled with unspoiled sea beaches, abundant natural resources, and ancient cultural heritage zones, Rakhine State draws the interest of international and local investors for setting up new markets, economic zones and industrial parks. Exploration and production of oil and gas in Rakhine State is one of profitable and promising sectors. If the local government effectively manages to produce natural gas from on-shore and off-shore gas fields on a commercial scale in Rakhine State, the Ministry of Electricity and Energy will be able to generate and distribute power to local people adequately. Some local entrepreneurs are engaged in producing agricultural and marine products in order to export the value-added products to foreign countries. With vast natural resources, young workforce and plentiful land plots would help local and foreign companies wishing to pump investments into Rakhine State seek ways to reduce production cost in manufacturing businesses. Development of infrastructure projects will also provide economic growth and job prospects for residents and help stabilize the situation in Rakhine State. Some foreign companies showed interests in building urban development projects and constructing roads, bridges and deep seaports in Rakhine State. The local government jointly organized an investment promotion event headlined, “Rakhine State Investment Fair 2019” in cooperation with the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) at Jasmine Ngapali Resort Hotel in Thandwe Township from 21 to 23 February 2019. The intention of the event was to boost investment opportunities in Rakhine State and connect local entrepreneurs with investors at home and abroad. A total of 30 agreements worth US$ 5.249 billion were inked during the Rakhine State Investment Fair 2019, with the hotels and tourism sector topping the list of both local and foreign investors. Local and foreign investors have submitted proposals to inject investments into Rakhine State. Thirty agreements were signed at the fair. Of them, 27 are Expressions of Interest, two are project proposals, and one is a B-to-B MoU. The energy sector saw the huge foreign investments in Rakhine State while the hotels and tourism sector topped the list of Myanmar citizen investments. The Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) recently held a meeting in Yangon and approved six projects in the power sector, other sector, manufacturing sector and hotel sector including power generation from a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine Power Plant, Supply and Sales of Electricity on IPP (BOT) in Gone Chain Village-tract, Kyaukphu Township in Rakhine State. The projects which were valued at nearly US$ 258 million and K60,228.30 million and would create up to over 1,300 job opportunities for local people have been approved during the meeting.
A gas-fired power plant would be built in Kyaukphyu Township, Rakhine State, and it would purchase natural gas from the Shwe Natural Gas Project to generate electricity. The commercial production of natural gas from the off-shore natural gas reserves is expected to begin in the years to come. Once completed, the power plant is expected to generate 135 megawatts of electricity and distribute the power to the National Grid. Fishing or aquaculture is an important source of livelihood and business for local people in Rakhine State. Investors from Thailand are very keen to invest in Rakhine State’s fishery industry. Rakhine State sees an increasing number of local and foreign investors who are investing in some development projects. Foreign investors have so far pumped around US$ 9 billion into hotels and tourism, livestock, fishery, oil and gas sector in Rakhine State, according to the official data from the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration.
The local government formed the chief minister-led private-government coordination committee to create an investor-friendly environment suitable for investment for development in Rakhine State, said U Kyaw Aye Thein, Rakhine State Minister for Finance, Revenue, Planning and Economy at the 25th annual general meeting of the Rakhine State Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry held at U Ottama Hall in Sittway on 26 December last year. Currently, majority of foreign investment in Rakhine State came from China and India. Investors from South Korea, Japan and Thailand have also been invited to inject their money into the development projects in Rakhine State. The local government also needs to improve the quality of agricultural and marine products to be able to boost economic growth of Rakhine State.
Investors at home and abroad see Rakhine State as an investment opportunity as some State-level infrastructure development projects such as Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone, Kyaukphyu deep-sea port project, Ponnagyun Industrial Park, and Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project are being implemented in Rakhine State. Kanyinchaung Economic Zone under construction in Maungtaw Township will also be an entry to Bangladesh to expand trade and investment between the two countries. Being a part of China-Myanmar Economic Corridor and China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, Rakhine State offers massive business opportunities for local and foreign investors.
By Kyaw Htike Soe
Ref; The Global New Light of Myanmar