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Filipino firms invited to invest in Myanmar’s agricultural sector

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By Madelaine B. Miraflor

Filipino firms were invited by a Myanmar agriculture magnate to explore potential investment opportunities in the formerly centrally planned, military-ruled economy.

Myanmar’s Yoma Strategic Holdings Co. Ltd (YSHCL) Agriculture Group Chairman Tin Htut Oo assured Filipino companies that starting next year, Myanmar will be a highly favorable investment destination in Asia with its new aggressive market-oriented foreign policy.

A new law in Myanmar now allows companies to be 100-percent foreign owned

Speaking as an awardee of the D.L.Umali Award of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), Oo said this policy will already have a set of implementing rules by 2017.

Oo,  who has already been globally recognized for his contribution to Myanmar’s agriculture sector, specifically invited Filipino investors to look at prospects of rice farming in Myanmar.

“Philippines is a rice importing country.  Myanmar is a rice surplus country.  For Filipino entrepreneurs, why not come to Myanmar and invest?  You grow it [in Myanmar].  We buy it.  We mill it, and we export it to the Philippines,” Oo said.

“Myanmar already liberalized all export of agricultural commodities .  We’re more liberalized compared to Vietnam.  Myanmar has private companies exporting rice.  The government’s role role is to make the environment conducive to investors.  The new law creates a level playing field [for private and public players,” he added.

He said that investors can also invest in coconut and banana plantation in his country.

“You are successful in coconut [in which] you have downstream businesses. We’re not utilizing coconut as much as the Philippines.  It’s not a commercial crop.  Filipino entrepreneurs can turn our industry [into a commercial one],” he further said.

SEARCA Director Gil Saguiguit Jr. said in the same briefing that both Myanmar and the Philippines can have partnerships that can take advantage of the prevailing ASEAN economic integration.

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