Fri 7 Dec 2012
Filed under: Business / Trade,International,News
Intel Corp. INTC -0.10% has set up a distribution channel in Myanmar, making the chip maker the latest in a series of large U.S. corporations to enter the long-isolated country as it opens its borders to foreign investment and new goods. For decades, the microprocessors and hard drives produced by Intel, as well as other products from Western countries that maintained trade sanctions against Myanmar, entered the Southeast Asian country through unofficial means. As a result, most of Myanmar, public and private, has failed to modernize its information technology, and the country needs a massive upgrade to be able to compete in an open marketplace.
Intel’s new distribution agreement, announced in Yangon, Myanmar, on Thursday, will allow the company to support products, such as personal computers, that use its technology in the country. Intel made the announcement with U.S.-based IT-services company Ingram Micro Inc. IM +0.61% and Myanmar sales agent KMD.
The chip maker also said it would explore starting a training program to help Myanmar teachers set up PCs in classrooms to improve digital literacy. Such a program would represent a major advancement in a country where military control of the government left education to stagnate. Many facilities are in decay and institutions lack the skills needed to build a competent professional workforce.
Intel has no plans to establish a permanent corporate presence in Myanmar and will focus on building business through external distribution agents, a spokesman said.
The opening of Myanmar, following decades of repressive military rule and economic and political estrangement from the West, has attracted large Western companies to what has been touted as the world’s hottest new market.
Myanmar’s Parliament last month passed a new foreign-investment law that removed some restrictions on foreign ownership of joint ventures, although many foreign investors have remained cautious about plowing new money into the economy.
For now, foreign companies mostly are focused on cashing in on the country’s emerging consumer class. U.S. companies such as Coca-Cola Co., KO +0.79% PepsiCo Inc. PEP +0.20% and General Electric Co. GE +0.07% have already flagged their intention to do business in Myanmar through the official distribution of their products.