Lee Hyuk, a senior trade official and Secretary General of the Asean-Korea Centre, says that Myanmar has to work on creating a better investment climate in order to bring in more South Korean investments into the country. He says that investors from South Korea feel that Myanmar, currently, is not a good place to invest in, pointing to the high pricing in service apartment in Yangon and across the country, fierce competition, and inconsistent government policies, among others.
There’s a lot of things to deal with, Lee says, and, on top of all of that, the ASEAN member states are fiercely competing with each other in order to attract FDI (foreign direct investment). He says that there quite a few Korean investors who looked into Myanmar as an investment option, but found that it wasn’t up to their expectations.
The Myanmar government, he says, needs to put in more effort in attracting FDI, doing things like visiting other countries, talking to authorities and companies and the like in order to create good conditions for companies looking to do business in the country.
The lack of infrastructure, insufficient power, high wages and pricy real estate as the big challenges that could potentially deter Korean investors’ from investing in Myanmar. He gives out an example, saying that if you’re operating a manufacturing factory, there should not be a risk of electricity blackouts. On top of that, the government’s policies should also be consistent, as well as properly enforced.
There’s also problems with renting apartments and service apartment in Yangon, which are highly priced, much higher, nearly double than that Seoul, Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, with Lee saying that should things remain the way they are, it’ll be difficult for foreign businesspeople to live comfortably in Myanmar.
Despite all of the challenges, Lee believes that the Korean investors are still very much interested in Myanmar, pointing to manufacturing, construction, retail, services and garments as some of the more promising sectors. He has also expressed hope that the trade mission to the country, aimed at promoting Korean FDI, will bring good results.
Lee sums up the issue with a past experience, saying that he could sense the potential in Myanmar, but it took them 2 hours to get there from Yangon, 30 km away.