Business / Trade


On September 23, more than 600 workers from the Panda Textile factory staged a demonstration in Paleik, Mandalay Region, demanding the government end a long-running dispute about pay and contracts.

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Much of the jadeite which delighted the 19th-century Chinese Empress Dowager Cixi and still pleases her modern compatriots comes from Myanmar, whose “imperial jade” is the world’s most valuable and is highly sought-after for its near-transparent emerald-green hues. (Jadeite, which is rare, comes from Myanmar; what is thought of as Chinese jade is in fact the more common nephrite.)

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Having recently run a Corporate Governance seminar in Yangon what struck me was the level of disconnect between what is understood as corporate governance with that of it importance to an emerging economy such as found in Myanmar. The prevailing belief, hence the title of this piece, is that Corporate Governance really only applies to public listed Companies and all others is merely subject to prevailing Corporations Law. Not only does this show a lack of understanding of the cornerstone of good management, it is a dangerous notion that can so easily derail further economic development as well as participation by the citizens of the country.

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Two weeks ago the Obama administration declared that it will drop all remaining economic sanctions imposed on Myanmar. Since 1997, when the sanctions were established as a response to the gross human rights abuses being committed by the country’s ruling junta, they have prevented any tangible trade between the two countries.

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The Australia-Myanmar Chamber of Commerce Responsible Investment Working Group has launched a Position Paper: Incentivising Shared Value at the Asian Forum on Corporate Social Responsibility in Naypyidaw on 19 September.

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Myanmar is in a critical period where the direction of the power sector can provide revolutionary inclusive sustainable growth, or become a crippling anchor keeping the economy submerged under rising tides.

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The Amyotha Hluttaw’s Natural Resources and Environment Conservation Committee yesterday introduced a bill amending Myanmar’s Gemstone Law with the aim of preventing monopolisation of the industry.

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Recent regulatory changes are set to spur growth in the microfinance sector, industry sources have told Frontier, although the full impact may not be felt for some time.

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In what is believed to be one of the first large punishments handed down to Rangoon’s developers, the city’s municipal body has said that Sule Square project developers will face fines of more than 2 billion kyats (about US$1.6 million) for breaching building regulations in the construction of the 23-floor structure.

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Contrasting expectations have emerged from Burma’s real estate industry as the National League for Democracy-led government attempts to persuade more foreign investors to enter the country’s market.

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The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Myanmar is currently surveying business practices in order to give annual awards recognizing corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities by US companies in Burma.

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US Ambassador to Myanmar Scot Marciel yesterday defended the decision to purge the sanctions list, referring to the embargoes as no longer politically expedient and a constraint on trade between the two countries.

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The new Myanmar Investment Law has been submitted to Parliament and is expected to be approved by October, following discussion by lawmakers and before the current parliamentary session ends.

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A new microfinance programme backed by the US government’s foreign aid agency USAID aims to promote the growth of medium-sized businesses in Burma and fill the “missing middle” in the country’s economy.

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Nearly half of the 316 striking Sakura garment factory workers have returned to work, while the remainder are still holding out to see a reduction of the daily production target that was the primary cause of the work stoppage.

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Burma’s billion-dollar jade industry needs a reformed legal framework to release it from the grip of the military elites, drug lords and crony companies, says a British transparency watchdog.

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CMT will hold the 3rd Myanmar Mining summit on 18-20 October in Yangon. The event will be co-hosted by the newly merged Ministry of Natural Resources & Environmental Conservation.

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A marathon election for executive positions on the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry has seen the old guard retain its grip on power amid a fierce factional struggle and controversy over a voting procedure that required pre-registration.

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The Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB) launched its third Transparency in Myanmar Enterprises (TiME)/Pwint Thit Sa report on 16 September.

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Burma’s long oppressed ethnic groups and critics of the country’s military generals are beginning to understand that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s US visit will bring business opportunities, wealth and blanket amnesty to many rich and powerful people who remain out of favor.

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