8 Sep 2012

Myanmar president considering investment law

1:23 pm on 8 September 2012

Myanmar's parliament has passed a new law which could pave the way for large-scale foreign investment in the country for the first time.

The long-delayed foreign investment law was passed on Friday and has gone back to the president, who has the final say and had resisted certain changes proposed earlier by lawmakers.

Lower house lawmaker Thein Nyunt told Reuters one big change was the dropping of a proposed requirement for foreign investors to put $5 million in start-up capital when setting up joint ventures with local partners.

An earlier draft had put restrictions on 13 sectors including manufacturing, farming, agriculture and fisheries, limiting foreign firms to a maximum 49% of any investment there. Thein Nyunt said that had now been altered to 50%.

Foreign firms are lining up to get into Myanmar, which has opened up fast since a military regime gave way to the quasi-civilian government of President Thein Sein 18 months ago. His reforms have led Western countries to lift or suspend sanctions.

However, most firms are waiting to see details of the investment law, which has been held up in parliament for five months as proposed changes have gone back and forth between the assembly and the president's office.