Myanmar Investment Commission has given the green light for Thailand’s Chang Beer to open breweries and other beverage factories in Yangon and Mandalay regions as well Shan State, sources said.They said permission was granted at the end of last month and that Beer Chang International Ltd. had formed a joint venture with Myanmar Distillery Ltd. to operate the factories.

It is estimated that up to 10 million cans of Beer Chang will be imported to Myanmar via the black market this fiscal year, according to one research study. Commerce ministry data estimates that almost eight million cans were illegally imported in the fiscal year 2010-2011.

Restrictive policies on the import of beer, alcohol and cigarettes have been a boon to the black market, officials say.

Imports of beer are rising about 20 percent a year, they say. About 16 million cans are imported to the black market annually, with the top brands being Beer Chang, China Beer and Beer Laos.