NAY PYI TAW – The Myanmar Government unveiled its intention to proceed with two new nationally significant infrastructure projects, those being the establishment a new Special Economic Zone (SEZ) located in Myanmar’s south-east, and the launch of a new industrial park located in Yangon’s west as part of an ‘unbundled’ New Yangon City development project during a virtual Myanmar-Japan Investment Dialogue held on 29 July 2020.
The twin announcement comes one week after a Notice to Proceed with preliminary work on a US$1.5-2billion 1,250-megawatt Liquefied Natural Gas power plant was granted to three Japanese corporations together with a local conglomerate Eden Group.
While delivering the opening remarks the State Counsellor noted that, “Quality job creation remains at the heart of our Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan” and that, “meaningful growth and quality job creation will not be achieved without continued quality investment – quality investment that creates quality jobs. Jobs that pay well. Jobs that offer security.”
U Thaung Tun, Union Minister for Investment and Foreign Economic Relations and Chair of the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) provided further details, describing the new SEZ as:
“…building upon Thilawa’s success, with a new world-class multi-lane highway now in operation, linking the Indian Ocean with the Pacific – this new SEZ shall be bigger and better connected than any other SEZ currently in operation anywhere in Myanmar.”
While the exact location was not disclosed, the SEZ is expected to be built in Mon State’s coast, allowing for the construction of deep-sea port facilities.
The Union Minister further noted the government’s intention to ensure a constant supply of electricity to the SEZ and surrounding areas likely via a direct connection to the national grid.
U Set Aung, Deputy Minister for Planning, Finance and Industry and Chair of the Thilawa SEZ championed the new SEZs job creation potential while stating that the government would soon be launching a Swiss Challenge competitive tender process that would allow for potential competitors to present counterproposals, and if successful, refund costs borne by the original project proponent.
Mon and Kayin States are home to a large number of migrant workers forced to return to Myanmar as a result of COVID-19, it is expected to be a major local job creator across a range of industries including manufacturing, logistics, real estate and food processing.
The new SEZ is also likely to attract significant investor interest given recent investment enabling reforms led by the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations combined with its proximity to the Greater Mekong Sub-Region East-West Economic Corridor connecting Yangon’s Thilawa SEZ to Da Nang in Viet Nam via Laos and Thailand.
Describing the government’s decision to move ahead with the first phase of the 2.75 km2 industrial park as part of the unbundled New Yangon City development project , U Thaung Tun noted:
“…to facilitate Yangon’s return to its rightful place as a jewel in the Crown of Asia – it gives me great pleasure to announce here today that we shall soon be launching a new Swiss Challenge competitive tender process for the development of a completely new industrial park and ancillary infrastructure in the Western part of Yangon, unbundled from the larger city development project.”
The New Yangon City development project was as being designed to support Yangon’s emergence as a smart and green city, accompanied by world-class infrastructure that caters to the needs of its people while preserving the environment and the country’s unique social and cultural heritage.
The Union Minister offered assurances that the government would ensure international best practices will be adhered to, including open, transparent, international competitive tendering, supported by a leading international transaction advisory firm.
Located in Yangon’s west, the industrial park is expected to include a range of ancillary infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and resettlement areas. The industrial park is also expected to contribute to Myanmar’s continued sustainable development, creating new quality employment opportunities, including within the country’s rapidly expanding manufacturing sector that has proven resilient despite challenges posed by COVID-19.
Held as part of ongoing investment promotion efforts led by the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations, the Myanmar-Japan Investment Dialogue on Economic Recovery After COVID-19 and New Investment Opportunities was organized in partnership with the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) and the Embassy of Japan in Myanmar, with participation from over 1000 individuals and firms.