Myanmar’s long-awaited foreign investment bill could be finalised within days, President Thein Sein said on Sunday as the regime woos overseas businesses to boost its struggling economy.
A draft of the much-delayed law was passed by parliament last month but Thein Sein – who must approve the bill – sent it back for amendments following signs of discord over how far the country should be opened up to outside investors.
“Job opportunities are rare in our country,” the president told reporters on Sunday at his first domestic news conference since taking power 18 months ago.
“To get these opportunities, we definitely need foreign investment. So we revised the foreign direct investment law and submitted it to parliament. I think it will come out within days.”
The law must “be in line with neighbouring countries”, he said. “If so, investors will come.”
The previous draft, which would have allowed foreign firms to own a stake of up to 50 per cent stake in joint ventures with local partners, was seen by some as too protectionist. Details of the new draft have not yet been divulged.
Myanmar is seen by many investors as the next regional frontier market as businesses eye its huge natural resources, large population and strategic location between China and India.
As the West rolls back sanctions to reward the regime for a series of political reforms, corporate giants from Coca-Cola to General Electric are vying for a share of an expected economic boom.