Rohingya Vision

Will anti-Rohingya sentiment deter foreign investments in Myanmar?

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Will anti-Rohingya sentiment deter foreign investments in Myanmar?
June 08
09:03 2015

YANGON: Anti-Rohingya sentiment in Myanmar has been cited as one of the biggest risks to business. There have been concerns that the feelings would deter foreign companies from setting up, especially those from Malaysia and Indonesia.

Malaysian law firm VDB Loi has been operating in Myanmar for the last three years. The firm has grown from just two employees to about 70 now.

With an increasing number of businesses needing legal advice, this Malaysian outfit is set to grow, despite the recent brutal anti-Rohingya protests.

Jean Loi, managing partner of VDB Loi, said: “People are more worried about the economic outlook in Myanmar – will the elections hamper the opening up and growth of Myanmar, will the new government have different policies, should we come in now, should we come in later? I think that’s more in their mind now.

“Religion can be a very important issue, but there are a lot of other issues to consider as well. But I think this is a big market and people are excited about it more than anything else.”

Malaysia is Myanmar’s 7th largest foreign investor, contributing 2.3 percent to the country’s total foreign investments at US$1.06 billion.

Aside from the banking and legal sectors, known Malaysian firms like Ho Hup is already in the construction sector here, while Petronas is investing in Myanmar’s oil and gas field.

Yet another example of Malaysian firms continuing to see huge potential in this market, is a business delegation made up of about 20 companies from the power sector will likely visit Myanmar some time next month – less than 6 months since the last group of Malaysian businessmen came here on a study mission.

This is good news for Myanmar ,which only re-opened its economy four years ago despite it has not stopped its discriminatory policies towards its minorities. Local businessmen say they have not seen any apprehension from their Malaysian or Indonesian partners.

Moe Kyaw, a senior representative of UMFCCI and ASEAN Business Advisory Council member, said: “We have to look at the whole ASEAN picture. The AEC is coming in at the end of December. Those who want to join the ASEAN community, expand their business, Myanmar offers tremendous potential.

“Most of the Malaysians and Indonesians and Brunei businessmen who want to expand their market have no option, or must seriously consider coming to Myanmar when you lay the cards on the deck and when they understand the situation, I don’t think this topic is going to be one that worries them.”

That influx of investment is expected to push Myanmar’s growth north of 8 percent this year, from just 5 percent in 2000, even through the ongoing persecution and sufferings of Rohingyas and other minorities till today.

Note:Changes have been made,CHANNEL NEWSASIA is not responsible for these.




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