YANGON Feb 21 About 40 foreign manufacturers
are interested in setting up in the Thilawa economic zone being
developed with Japanese help outside Myanmar's main city,
Yangon, and commercial operations could start in mid-2015, a
Myanmar official said.
Myanmar has opened up since a quasi-civilian government took
office in 2011 after decades of military dictatorship and
foreign firms are looking to benefit from cheap labour and a
virgin market in thriving Southeast Asia.
Set Aung, vice-governor of Myanmar's central bank and
chairman of the committee overseeing the economic zone, said the
potential investors were producers of clothing, foodstuff,
electronic appliances, toiletries and car parts.
The first phase of the zone involves an industrial park
covering 400 hectares (988 acres) out of the total 2,400
hectares earmarked for the project.
"The first phase is estimated to cost about $180 million and
about $50 million has already been invested for inside
infrastructure projects," Set Aung said.
Myanmar and Japan are jointly developing the special
economic zone on the southwest outskirts of Yangon. It will
eventually have a deep-sea port, roads, bridges, a power plant
and waste water treatment plants.
Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings Public Ltd. Co., a consortium
set up by nine Myanmar companies, owns 41 percent of the shares
in the zone and the Thilawa SEZ Management Committee, a state
entity chaired by Set Aung, has the remaining 10 percent held on
the Myanmar side.
On the Japanese side, the MMS Thilawa Development Co. Ltd.,
a consortium grouping Mitsubishi Corp, Marubeni Corp
and Sumitomo Corp, has 39 percent and the
Japan International Cooperation Agency 10 percent.
Set Aung said shares in Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings, the
local consortium, would be offered to the public in the first
week of March.
They will be sold through five private banks as well as at
outlets near the project area so that residents there will be
able to participate easily.
It was unclear if there would be any way to trade in the
shares and full details of the offer were not available.
Myanmar has a stock exchange set up with the help of Japan's
Daiwa Securities in 1996 but it has only two listed companies
and trading is minimal. Daiwa is working with the government on
a more modern bourse that is supposed to open in 2015.
(Reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Editing by Alan Raybould and Robert