Singapore interest slumps as cautious firms await clearer policy direction

Singapore investment in Myanmar has slumped as companies in the city-state wait for clearer policy direction from the National League for Democracy government, the Straits Times reported last week.

It quoted Singapore Business Federation chief executive Mr Ho Meng Kit as saying that a survey released in January found that Myanmar was the most popular market for Singapore companies wanting to invest abroad.

“But that enthusiasm has not translated into investment,” the November 16 report said.

It cited figures from Myanmar’s Directorate of Investment and Company Administration showing that Singapore investment for the nine months to the end of September this year totalled US$588.75 million, down sharply from $2.03 billion in the same period in 2015.

The Straits Times quoted Mr Romain Caillaud, senior director at corporate advisory firm FTI Consulting, as saying Singapore investment had probably peaked between 2013 and last year, with a slowdown since November last year.

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This was partly because the Myanmar Investment Commission was inactive between April and mid-June this year and no big investments were approved in that period, Caillaud said.

Ms Audris Tan, the centre director in Yangon of International Enterprise Singapore, formerly the Singapore Trade Development Board, said the investment slowdown was across the board.

“Myanmar had targeted US$6 billion in foreign direct investment for this financial year, which will end in March 2017. They have not yet achieved this,” she told the Straits Times.

The report said DICA had been quoted as saying that about $3.2 billion in investment had been received in the seven months to the end of October.

Tan said Singaporean investor interest in Myanmar was “sustained”, adding that the recent enactment of the Myanmar Investment Law was an encouraging development.

There were many opportunities for Singapore companies in infrastructure and services for Myanmar’s growing middle class, such as in food and beverage, and retail, she said.

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