Thai Amata to slow investment in $1 bln Myanmar industrial zone after coup

BANGKOK, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Thai industrial estate developer, Amata Corporation Pcl on Tuesday said it was slowing down investment to an industrial complex in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, over worries of foreign sanctions and unrest following a coup.

“We have to slow down,” chief marketing officer, Viboon Kromadit, told reporters in a virtual briefing, adding the company was assessing the situation daily.

Amata has so far developed 200 acres of the estate, investing just 140 million baht ($4.67 million), he said, adding it took the firm five years to obtain the business license.

He did not elaborate on the extent to which the investment would slow.

Last year chief executive Vikrom Kromadit said the industrial zone value would be $1 billion. The first phase of the project is valued at $274.7 million, Myanmar government data shows.

The company has a total land area of 2,000 acres for the industrial estate, which is aimed to attract foreign investors looking for low labour costs and access to a growing market.

Amata is among the foreign businesses operating in Myanmar that scrambled to understand the situation on Monday after the military seized power from the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

COVID-19 has already slowed investment to the country so the coup was a “double whammy”, he said, because it created uncertainty that deterred its customers.

The company was also concerned about sanctions from western countries, which would further limit investment and the possibility of violence.

Myanmar’s military intervened to prevent parliament convening and detained leader Suu Kyi, lawmakers and key figures from the National league for Democracy party, which won 83% of available seats in last year’s election.

“If the public doesn’t accept it, it could lead to violence and everything will be frozen,” Viboon said of the coup. ($1 = 29.9600 baht) (Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Martin Petty)