28 January 2011

Myanmar approves investment law

YANGON - Myanmar's military government has enacted a law on foreign investment in a move to attract much-needed foreign capital to an economy held back by decades of sanctions and mismanagement.

A 'Special Economic Zone Law' was passed on Thursday by the junta, four days before a new parliament convenes for the first time, outlining privileges for investors and regulations regarding banking and insurance firms.

State-controlled media carried vague details about the new law on Friday and said full information would be published at a later date.

The country is on a drive to attract investment, promoting tourism, timber, gemstones and its vast oil and gas reserves, which are already being tapped by China and Thailand, its neighbours and biggest trade partners.

Regional foreign ministers and some small political parties plan to petition Western governments to lift sanctions, and the party of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released from seven years' house arrest on Nov 13, is expected to complete a review of the issue soon.

The new investment law follows a series of reforms undertaken over the past year, including the privatisation of hundreds of state assets, and plans to expand banking, telecommunications, shipping and agricultural sectors.--The Straits Times

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