China’s biggest bank opens Yangon branch office

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has opened for business in Myanmar under the limited licences awarded last year to nine international banks, media reports said.

ICBC, the world’s biggest bank by assets and the only Chinese bank among the nine, opened the Yangon branch on September 8, China’s state-run Xinhua newsagency said.

ICBC president Yi Huiman told the opening ceremony at the Sakura Tower that the inauguration of the branch was an important achievement in economic cooperation between China and Myanmar and an important milestone in the bank’s global expansion.

Mr YI said the opening had brought to seven the number of branches operated by ICBC in the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The opening ceremony included the signing of an agreement with Yoma Bank to ease the direct flow of trade-related funds between Myanmar and China, said a news release from the Myanmar bank.

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Banks from Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand were also granted permission to provide limited services under the licences granted last October that allowed the first foreign banks to operate in Myanmar in more than five decades.

They are limited to one branch, are barred from retail operations and are permitted to lend only to foreign companies in foreign currency or to provide kyat loans to Myanmar companies through domestic banks.

Myanmar had 14 foreign banks, more than any other country in Southeast Asia, before they were nationalised in 1963 under the Ne Win military dictatorship.

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