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Business weekly 6 February

Ups and downs

Gold prices have risen to 696,800 kyat per 1 tical. The currency exchange rate currently sits at 1 kyat to US$1,025; 1 kyat to €1,175.9; 1 kyat to GB£1,571.6; and 1 kyat to 15.280 Russian roubles.

Foreigners may invest in Burma’s stock exchange

Foreigners will be able to buy shares in the forthcoming Yangon Stock Exchange (YSX), Deputy Finance Minister Maung Maung Thein has said, but only after archaic financial regulation laws have been updated. Under the 1914 Companies Act, a company is defined as foreign-owned if even a single share is owned by a non-citizen. This creates restrictions, such as constraints on purchasing land. Burma will work on the basis where share majority is used to identify if a company is foreign- or domestically-owned, Maung Maung Thein said.

New airport to take 12 million passengers per year

Construction on a new international airport in Burma is due to begin in 2016, with completion scheduled for 2020. Hanthawaddy International Airport in Pegu [Bago], around 70 km north of Rangoon, will be capable of processing 12 million passengers per year, and have the capacity to land large aircraft such as Airbus 380s. The project is headed by Changi Airport Planners and Engineers and Yongnam Holdings, both of Singapore, along with Japan’s JGC Corp, after government negotiations with the previous bid-winners collapsed.

Dusit hotels set sights on Burma

Thai hotel chain Dusit International has their sights on Burma for property development. The upcoming new dusitD2 Residence Yangon will boast 300 residential units and is situated between Rangoon International Airport and the city center. Designed by Iida Archiship Studio, The Nation reports the project is to be undertaken by Myanmar JP Asset Co and Kokusai Land, with completion due in 2017.

Burma ponders selling debt bonds

Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has said that Burma is considering selling part of its debt in baht-denominated bonds, according to Bloomberg News. The move would encourage foreign investment into the country at a time when Burma is looking to raise revenue for infrastructure development. SEC secretary general is cited saying, “Most investors are scrambling for an investment opportunity in Myanmar [Burma],” and that the sale of the sovereign bonds would represent an “attractive investment alternatives for Thai and international investors.”

Surging bean prices

The price of beans has increased since the start of the harvest with the bean market opening at 750,000 kyat (US$750) per ton in December 2014, a spike from 500,000-600,000 kyat per ton the year before. Bean prices usually fall in November and December but have surged due to lower home stock and higher demand from India as prices are heavily dependent on the Indian market, with 80 percent of local crops exported to Burma’s eastern neighbour.

Chin State grants hotel licences to boost tourism

The iconic heart-shaped Rih Lake, one of Chin State’s major tourist attractions, will be more accessible for visitors as new licences for lodging development will be granted to tap into ecotourism. Environmental Conservation and Forestry Minister Win Tun said, Business licences will be issued after the lodgings in Chin State are upgraded to a standard fitting for foreigners., saying “we have also planned to assess the tour trips in the state.” The government has designated 37 areas in Burma as natural conservation zones, with plans to develop 21 of them into ecotourism destinations.

MCC Transport launches direct China-Burma logistic service

Intra-Asia carrier MCC Transport, the sister company of prominent shipping firm Maersk Group, has launched direct logistic services between Burma and China. The new IA5 service will reduce transit time from China to Rangoon ports, which previously took 18 days, to just 13 days, eliminating cargo trans-shipment. The first of eight 1,100 TEU vessels left Shanghai on 27 January and is due in Rangoon on 9 February.