Thursday, August 17, 2017

Condo law could help reverse investment drop, says DICA

Foreign investors would look to the incoming government to create a reliable and welcoming environment, experts say. The speedy adoption of the long-delayed condo law, which would allow foreigners to buy Myanmar real estate, and the reform of investment legislation that favours Myanmar citizens over foreign investors were two of the steps cited that could be taken to reverse a recent decline in foreign investment.

According to DICA figures, the country received more than US$4.1 billion in foreign investment between April 1, 2015, and December 31, lower than the same period in 2014.

Daw Mar Lar Myo Nyunt, director of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration, said such concerns had been aired at a recent forum with Korean investors.

Whatever the government in power, foreign investment was vital for the development of the national economy, she said. “The incoming government will definitely need to focus on investments”, building on the achievements of the outgoing administration, she said, adding that credibility was the key.

Daw Moe Thida, deputy director of public relations for the Department of Urban Housing and Development , said procedures would not change significantly. But in terms of real estate, urban infrastructure and services projects, foreign investors would be looking for confirmation that the new government was a reliable partner.

“If parliament were to pass the condominium law, foreign investors would gain access to the real estate market,” she said, citing legal barriers to greater international involvement in the property and construction markets.

Unusually, Myanmar has two separate investment laws, creating a distinction between domestic and foreign investment – in favour of Myanmar citizens. “Under current law, we provide more benefit to Myanmar citizens. We are trying to merge those two laws,” said Daw Mar Lar Myo Nyunt.

In 2012, Myanmar passed the Foreign Investment Law, which aimed at creating a more investment-friendly climate and encouraging greater cooperation between local and foreign businesses operating in Myanmar.

Another positive step was the adoption of legislation underpinning Myanmar’s adhesion to the New York Arbitration Convention, reassuring foreign investors that the country was meeting international standards that could be legally enforced. The arbitration law that came into force earlier this month has been hailed by international investment experts.