ACE to underwrite insurance in Myanmar

22 May, 2013
Business & Investment

Swiss based ACE, one of the world’s largest insurance companies, has announced that it was moving to open an office in Yangon later this year. The company has operations in 53 countries, including Myanmar’s ASEAN partners Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Wireless banking just months away

22 May, 2013
Business & Investment

U Tin Maung Htay, managing director for Small and Medium Industrial Development Bank, said domestic banks are in the final stage of preparing for mobile banking – a process that began two years ago. He said they have identified telecom as a major hurdle, adding that networks are unreliable, especially during bad weather, and this could interrupt transactions made over the phone.

Japan firms aid Myanmar in building telecom network

22 May, 2013
Economy

Japanese companies Sumitomo, NEC, and NTT signed a contract with the Myanmar government to build an optical fibre network which can transmit data at 30 gigabit per second, linking Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyidaw. The trio will also lay down fibre-optic networks inside each of the three cities to transmit voice and other data at a speed of 10 gigabits per second (Gbps). The networks will also provide services such as long-term evolution (LTE) high-speed wireless communications, fixed-line phone, and Internet connections.

IMF: Myanmar economy may grow 6.75% this year on gas output

22 May, 2013
Economy

Myanmar’s economy may grow 6.75 percent this fiscal year, led by natural gas sales and investment as the country moves to modernize its financial system, according to the International Monetary Fund. Last fiscal year’s growth is estimated at 6.5%, the IMF said in a statement. IMF also urged Myanmar’s central bank to set an exchange rate that balances the need to generate exports and maintain affordable imports, as the kyat continued its month-long slide against the US dollar. The exchange rate at official money changers on 23 May was 945 per dollar, compared with 925 a week earlier.

Abe ends Myanmar visit by pledging more aid and debt write-off

27 May, 2013
Foreign Affairs

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid an official visit to Myanmar over the weekend. The two country leaders agreed to boost cooperation in economic, political and security areas, and Abe agreed to forgive a further US$1.74 billion in arrears owed by Myanmar. He also announced fresh aid of over US$900 million.

Myanmar prepares for ASEAN Chair 2014

23 May, 2013
Foreign Affairs

Indonesia is helping Myanmar prepare for its ASEAN chairmanship in 2014 by hosting government officials for a workshop. Responsibilities and working procedures of the ASEAN Chair and the role of media were discussed, and Indonesian officials recounted their experiences during Indonesia’s chairmanship. Consultants from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, officials from the ASEAN secretariat, representatives from the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN, ASEAN +3, and the EU also attended the workshop.

WEF to lift Myanmar’s profile

28 May, 2013
Foreign Affairs

The World Economic Forum on East Asia this year will be in Myanmar. The forum will set a new record for participation, with more than 1000 senior leaders from more than 50 countries expected to attend, reflecting the immense interest that the international community has in recent developments in Myanmar.

NDF proposes constitutional changes

28 May, 2013
Politics

One of Myanmar’s opposition party, the National Democratic Force (NDF), is planning to propose an amendment to the 2008 Constitution that forbids people with a foreign spouse to be president. Without being specific, the party is obviously referring to Aung San Suu Kyi’s situation. She is considered to be a major contestant to the 2015 general election but is barred from the seat as her late husband was a British citizen. NDF says that the constitution has too many restrictions and that the military’s role in parliament should be downsized. The NDF is a breakaway faction of the National League for Democracy (NLD). It split from NLD in 2010 to contest generals while the NLD boycotted the election.

Myanmar Resumes Peace Talks With Kachin Rebels

28 May, 2013
Politics

The Myanmar government has resumed peace talks with ethnic Kachin rebels on 28 May, with the aim of reaching a cease-fire agreement with all ethnic rebel groups in the near future. The talk is the first to be held in the Kachin state capital of Myikyina. A 1994 cease-fire ended in 2011 when conflict broke out, displacing more than 100,000 people.

Muslims and Buddhists clash in northern Myanmar

28 May, 2013
Politics

Violence once again broke out on 28 May between Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar, this time in Lashio, the capital city of Shan state in northern Myanmar, close to the Chinese border. The extent of the violence is still unclear as phone lines in the city are down, but witnesses have reported several large fires.