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Burma Business Weekly

Ups and downs

Burma’s currency is trading this week at 1,033 kyat to the US dollar, 1,157 kyat to 1 Euro, 285 kyat to 1 Malaysian Ringgit, 760 kyat to 1 Singapore Dollar, and 31 kyat to 1 Thai baht. Gold is buying for 678,600 kyat per tical, selling for 679,000 kyat per tical.

 

Hazardous beauty brands named

Six brands of cosmetic products have been identified by the Ministry of Health’s Food and Drugs Administration as unregistered with authorities, with some items said to contain prohibited chemicals. In a report in state-run media, consumers were told that the products – Tree 3 Day Brighten and Re-Whitening Cream; Lay Now Whitening Night Cream; PW Banishing Cream, Baschi Day Cream-Thailand, Baschi Day Cream-China and Polla Anti-Melasma Night Cream – are unsafe for use. A warning was issued that action will be taken against any shop found to be selling them.

 

Ministry of Commerce abolish trade registration fines

From 1 April, Burma’s Ministry of Commerce will abolish fines for delayed extension of export and import trade registration. Previously, traders faced fines of up to K30,000 (US$29) for a three-month delay. The new implementation is a move by the government to reform trade policies to expedite and encourage overseas trades.

 

Burma market potential lures Thai investors

Convenience and modernisation were revealed as major pushes for potential markets in Burma, says market research firm Envirosell Thailand. Bangkok Post reports Burmese consumers are shifting to modern lifestyles, and seeking products to enhance their quality of life. The potential for entrepreneurs and new businesses is high, with 25 percent of people in Burma keen to try new products, the marketing firm says. TV ads and billboards were found to be the most effective form of advertising, the survey concluded. Read more.

 

MP says corruption, waste risks more debt

MP Thura Aung Ko on 23 February voiced concern that the ineffective use of foreign assistance and a reliance on international loans puts Burma at risk of falling further into debt. Deputy Minister for National Planning and Economic Development Lei Lei Thein responded by saying that such issues are subject to supervision, and that projects with the greatest potential for public benefit – such as electricity, agriculture and finance projects – are prioritised for spending.

 

Burma among world’s cheapest labour

Burma ranks amongst the five cheapest countries in the world for labour costs, according to corporate analytics company Verisk Maplecroft. Along with Bangladesh and Cambodia, Burma was one of the lowest ranked countries in the Labour Cost Index released this week, taking the 171 spot out of 172. The competitiveness of cheap labour is attractive to investors, but is potentially related to poor working conditions, child labour and trafficking, the company warns. The three countries with the most expensive labour costs are Italy, France and Belgium.

 

Burma-China seals rice export deal

Myanmar Rice Federation has signed a rice export agreement with China’s state-run agricultural COFCO, exporting 100,000 tonnes of rice via monthly shipments at a floating price. Burma exported 1.1 million tonnes of rice in the first nine months of the 2014-15 fiscal year, of which 800,000 tonnes went to China. Rice exports for the new agreement are stipulated to begin in April.

 

Chicken culling to halt H5N1

Burma has destroyed thousands of poultry animals in an effort to contain an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu in Monywa Township, Reuters says. 1,400 chickens and 10,000 quails have died from the infection since it broke out earlier this month, with more than 1,500 chickens and 20,000 quails culled. The disease is reportedly being brought under control and is not known to have spread to humans.

 

US$300 million loan approved for rural development

Burma’s Union Parliament has approved a US$300 million loan from EXIM Bank of China to support the Cooperative Ministry’s micro-financing projects. The Cooperative Ministry has pledged repayment, but by an unstipulated date. The programme is aimed at reducing the poverty level to 16 percent and improving the life of the rural poor. Read the full DVB story here.