SHANGHAI (Reuters) - PepsiCo Inc (PEP.N) is in talks to sign a bottling agreement in Myanmar, ramping up the competition with Coca-Cola Co (KO.N) as they fight for market share in a country emerging from decades of isolation.
Coke, which shipped drinks to customers in Myanmar this year for the first time in six decades, said in September that it is already working on setting up a bottling venture with a local company.
Interest in Myanmar by multinational firms has surged after President Thein Sein, who took office in March 2011 at the head of a quasi-civilian government, undertook economic and political reforms that persuaded Western countries to suspend sanctions.
"We want to establish local production," Saad Abdul-Latif, chief executive of PepsiCo Asia, Middle East and Africa, told reporters in Shanghai on Tuesday. "We will be signing that within the next year or so."
Saad was speaking in Shanghai, where the firm opened its largest food and beverage research center outside of North America.
In August, PepsiCo said it has signed an agreement with Diamond Star Co Ltd to distribute PepsiCo beverage brands in Myanmar.
Under the terms of the agreement, Diamond Star - one of the largest packaged-goods distributors in Myanmar - has exclusive rights to import, sell and distribute Pepsi-Cola, 7-Up and Mirinda.
Reporting by Melanie Lee; Editing by Ryan Woo