Foreign Investors Head For Myanmar’s Thilawa SEZ

The Thilawa Special Economic Zone is a mid-development joint venture, conceptualized and headed by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETO) and the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI). The project started out with $3.28B, and was launched three years ago, on May of 2014.

According to official media reports released last Monday, July 17, foreign investors have analysed the Thilawa SEZ and decided it, and the idea of a hotel near Myanmar centre, to be a favourable investment, with investments to the SEZ from foreign sources having hit US$1.7B .

When analyzed and divided into their respective source sectors, the data shows that the manufacturing sector led the foreign investment buzz, accounting for US$773M of the investment, followed by the import-export sector at US$126M. The logistics sector trails third with US$77M, followed by the service sector at $56M, and, finally, showing some reception to the idea of a hotel near Myanmar centre, the real estate and the hotel sectors with US$30M and US$12M, respectively.

The Thilawa SEZ is composed of 2,400 hectares of land. Out of all this, 400 hectares, representing Zone A, have already been in operation since September of 2015. Zone B, composed of 101 hectares of land, will be leased sometime this year, if schedule holds. If all proceeds as planned, Zone B’s development will be completed sometime next year.

The official reports stated that Myanmar is seeing at least 150 foreign companies from over 17 countries across the world taking interest and investing in the Thilawa SEZ, which, according to calculations, will create approximately 40,000 job opportunities in the area.

The Thilawa SEZ is the first development of its kind anywhere in Myanmar, with two additional SEZ’s being developed after it: the Dawei and Kyakphyu SEZ’s, which are currently in progress.

The agreement between the UMFCCI, representing Myanmar, and the JETO, representing Japan, was signed on the 29th of October, 2013. This agreement led to the introduction of the Thilawa SEZ, which is operated by the joint Myanmar-Japan Thilawa Development Company, a venture between the two countries, composed of two Myanmar-based companies and two Japan-based companies, with a share ratio of 51:49, slightly in favour of Myanmar.