Time not ripe for investing in Myanmar: businessman

Yangon, Myanmar, Jan. 12 (CNA) A Myanmar-based Taiwanese businessman said Saturday that the investment environment in the formerly isolated state is not ripe due to immature legal and banking systems, and underdeveloped infrastructure. The businessman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told CNA that despite general principles of investment law having been established in Myanmar, detailed regulations have not been drawn up, leaving investors somewhat lost. There are also no foreign banks in the country, only representative offices of foreign banks, he said. At present, the only bank from Taiwan with a representative office there is First Bank. The country has an abundant labor supply, he said, but added that it is possible once more foreign companies establish presences in the country, labor shortages will arise. Land prices have also gone up four to five times over the last three years, he continued, adding that dining at local restaurants can sometimes be more expensive than in Taipei. The electricity supply in the industrial zone is improving, but currently there are still seven hours of daily blackout, he said.
If Myanmar were to open its economy fully to the outside world, it could become the fastest-emerging country in Southeast Asia, he said. Myanmar's economy is one of the world's least-developed. It was ruled by a military junta from 1962 to 2011, which kept it isolated from the outside world. A new constitution was brought in by the junta in 2008 that was supposed to be a roadmap to gradual democracy and providing hope that decades of international isolation were coming to an end. (By Fang Pei-ching and Ann Chen)