Mr R Dhinakaran: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry what are the specific steps that the Government is taking to establish trade and economic relations with Myanmar and how can our SMEs benefit from this.
Mr R Dhinakaran: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry with the EU lifting its sanctions on Myanmar, how does this impact Singapore companies looking to go into that market.
Written reply by Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry
Myanmar has embarked on a series of economic reforms in recent years, including implementing a new Foreign Investment Law and unifying its exchange rate system. These measures have helped to boost trade and investment activities in Myanmar. To signal their support for Myanmar’s reform process, members of the international community, including the European Union (EU) and the US, have lifted economic sanctions on Myanmar.
These developments will help businesses interested to set up operations in Myanmar, including Singapore companies. For example, the EU decision on 22 April 2013 to lift economic sanctions and to reinstate the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) to Myanmar will grant duty-free and quota-free access to the European market for most products1. Singapore companies seeking to base their manufacturing operations in Myanmar can then enjoy greater market access and decreased tariffs for exports destined for the European market.
Over the long term, Myanmar has considerable growth potential, given its strategic location between India and China, 60 million strong domestic consumer market and an abundant young workforce. Singapore is a significant investor in Myanmar, with investments amounting to S$4.4 billion as at the end of 20112.
To facilitate Singapore companies in exploring business opportunities in Myanmar, IE Singapore has organised investment seminars and also recently established an Overseas Centre in Yangon. The business community has also developed business-to-business (B-to-B) relationships with their Myanmar counterparts. For instance, the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) has tied up with the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) to facilitate collaborations between companies, especially SMEs, from both sides. Since the start of 2012, our economic agencies and trade associations have organised 16 business missions to Myanmar. As Myanmar continues to reform and open up its economy, the government will continue to help businesses to deepen our economic and trade relationship.
1 With the exception of arms and ammunitions.
2 Latest Figures. Source: Department of Statistics, Singapore