Myanmar has begun implementation of Myanmar’s first biggest Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) project recently in the outskirts of Yangon with the first phase of the project covering 400 hectares out of the overall 2,400 hectares.

The Thilawa SEZ, jointly developed by Myanmar and Japan, is a crucial one out of Myanmar government’s prioritized projects.

Two Myanmar companies and two Japanese companies have established a joint venture under the name of Myanmar-Japan Thilawa Development Co Ltd in Tokyo to operate the SEZ project.

The company’s share ratio is 51 percent by Myanmar and 49 percent by Japan.

The Myanmar public company is set to sell its shares to the public in early 2014 and the company will start commercial run of the Thilawa SEZ in mid-2015, Myanmar’s first largest SEZ of its kind of international standard.

The Thilawa SEZ project includes factories, high-tech industry, textile, labor intensive industry and manufacturing industry.

Thilawa SEZ project, which lies between Thanlyin and Kyauktan townships in Yangon region, has so far been marred by land disputes involving hundreds of farmers, posing a challenge for the implementation of the project.

Meanwhile, JICA agreed to provide a loan of over 51 billion yens’ Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Myanmar in June.

Of the 51.05 billion yen’s ODA loan, 20 billion yen is for development of infrastructure in Thilawa SEZ and 14.05 billion yen for upgrading power grid project and power stations in Yangon.

With 121 companies already investing in Myanmar, the Japanese investment in the country reached 273.42 million U.S. dollars as of July 2013 since Myanmar opened to such investment in late 1988 standing the 11th in Myanmar’s foreign investment line-up, according to statistics.

Myanmar and Japan also had a total trade volume of 1.498 billion U.S. dollars in the fiscal year 2012-13, of which Myanmar’ s import from Japan took 1.09 billion dollars, while its export to the East Asian nation stood 406.49 million dollars.

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