Thursday, July 27, 2017

Eight companies set to begin operations in Thilawa SEZ

Thilawa Special Economic Zone, less than an hour’s drive from downtown Yangon, is about to become operational. It will be the first of the country’s three SEZs to get under way. The other two are Kyaukpyu in Rakhine State and Dawei, Tanintharyi State.

Japanese and local officials cut the ceremonial rope on November 30, 2013, breaking ground on the Thilawa SEZ. Photo: BootheeJapanese and local officials cut the ceremonial rope on November 30, 2013, breaking ground on the Thilawa SEZ. Photo: Boothee

Daw Than Than Thwe, joint secretary of the Thilawa SEZ Management Committee (TSEZMC), said yesterday that 41 companies had already signed up to occupy the 400-hectare initial phase.

“Eight of them will commence operations by late June, and others will start manufacturing by the end of the year,” she told The Myanmar Times.

The management committee is owned by the Myanmar government, which has a 10 percent stake in the zone. The Japanese government also has a 10pc stake through the Japan

International Cooperation Agency (JICA), while a Myanmar private consortium, Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings Public Limited, controls 41pc, and a Japanese private consortium the rest through the MMS Thilawa Development Company.

The Japanese and Myanmar governments have taken an active part in developing the zone, and Japanese workers are stationed there to support companies from Japan. The enterprise is considered to be a joint venture between Japan and Myanmar.

The zone occupies 2400 hectares southwest of Thanlyin. Myanmar Japan Thilawa Development (MJTD), a joint venture between Japan and Myanmar, is in charge of development and management and is currently soliciting companies to set up in a 189-hectare section that comprises the first phase of the project. MJTD is owned 49pc jointly by three major Japanese trading houses – Marubeni, Sumitomo and Mitsubishi – and JICA.

“The 189-hectare section under construction within the 400-hectare first phase of the project is going to finish at the end of June,” said Daw Than Than Thwe.

There are 21 Japanese companies, five Myanmar companies, four Taiwanese, three Thai and two Chinese companies, and one each from the United States, Sweden, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong, according to state-owned media reports yesterday.

Problems remain, however. In early days the project was dogged by protests from local farmers, and one foreign investor, who requested anonymity, questioned the reliability of the electricity supply.

The American beverage container producer Ball Corporation and a Japanese auto parts manufacturer became the first companies to sign contracts to invest in the Thilawa zone in June 2014. The other investor is Koyo Radiator Company, which produces car parts.

Thilawa’s initial phase will be competed in 2016 and is hoped to generate 50,000 jobs.