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Japan-backed special economic zone opens for business in Myanmar Japan-backed special economic zone opens for business in Myanmar

Japan-backed special economic zone opens for business in Myanmar

With extensive backing from Japan, Myanmar’s first Special Economic Zone opened on the outskirts of the country’s largest city on Sept. 23.

The industrial complex, in the Thilawa district of Yangon, was organized by Japanese trading houses in cooperation with Myanmar’s public and private organizations.

Forty-seven companies, 24 of which are Japanese, have signed contracts to move into the SEZ. About 70 percent of the land in the zone available for purchase has been sold, and an additional 10 companies are set to sign contracts next March.

Auto parts makers and suppliers of construction materials are among enterprises lured by preferential measures such as exemption from foreign capital restrictions and tax breaks.

“We intend to support Myanmar’s development as a new nation through both our public and private sectors,” said Finance Minister Taro Aso, who attended the Sept. 23 opening ceremony.

Since Myanmar’s military regime was replaced by a quasi-civilian government in 2011, the nation has shifted to an economic policy with emphasis on attracting foreign enterprises. However, infrastructure essential to running factories, including electricity and water, remains weak.

The Japanese government has been supporting the development of the Thilawa district through yen loans and grant aid programs.

The special zone’s development has been promoted by Myanmar Japan Thilawa Development Ltd., in which the three major Japanese traders — Mitsubishi Corp., Marubeni Corp. and Sumitomo Corp. — and the government-affiliated Japan International Cooperation Agency hold a 49 percent stake. The rest of the capital was put up by Myanmar.

Most of the zone’s infrastructure, such as a thermal power plant, power grids, gas pipelines, a port and roads, has been built under JICA’s yen-loan programs.

Source: The Asahi Shimbun

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