Myanmar’s agriculture sector absorbed foreign direct investment (FDI) this financial year estimated at US$15.21 million by mid-July, accounted for only 0.55 per cent of all FDI, said U Hsan Myint, the deputy director-general of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA).
“Agriculture is listed in ten prioritized sectors by Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC). However, it is time-consuming investment”, he added
Agriculture investments have been rare because they are usually seen as long-term investments. Myanmar also has onerous requirements for foreign investments in land.
Currently, there are three foreign companies authorized by MIC in the agriculture sector, a Chinese (Taipei) company and a company from the Netherlands are importing seeds, and an American company is involved in agarwood production.
Thus far, MIC has authorized foreign firms to participate in seed production, but not in fertilizer or agricultural machinery. MIC authorized 100 per cent foreign firms to invest in agriculture only since 2015, said U Hsan Myint.
Dr Soe Tun, the vice president of Myanmar Rice Federation, said foreigners are keen to invest in agriculture but are wary of regulatory obstacles and other risks including erratic weather and pests. Crop insurance policy is largely unavailable in Myanmar. Inefficient land-use regulations, however, are the main obstacle to foreign investment in agriculture. Myanmar’s manufacturing sector attracted the most foreign investment this financial year, receiving an estimated $1.11 billion. Real estate sector ranked second with foreign investments of $886 million.
MIC authorised 93 FDI projects by mid-July this financial year. Meanwhile, Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) recorded FDI worth $3.1 billion, according to MIC statistics.
MIC’s priority sectors for investment include: agriculture and fisheries, import-export, logistics, education and residential and commercial construction.
May Thet Hnin