YANGON, Myanmar – Myanmar’s parliament on Friday, September 7 passed an eagerly awaited new law aimed at boosting foreign investment in the former pariah state, which is emerging from decades of military rule, a lawmaker said.
The legislation allows foreign companies to own a 50-percent stake in joint ventures with local partners.
“The foreign investment law was approved by the union parliament,” said ruling-party lawmaker Soe Yin, adding that a controversial minimum investment of $5 million proposed in an earlier draft had been dropped.
Business leaders had warned that the earlier draft, which would have allowed foreign firms to hold only up to 49 percent of a joint venture, risked undermining smaller companies’ chances of attracting investment.
The investment law is aimed at regulating a flood of interest from overseas corporations, which have been eyeing resource-rich Myanmar since the international community began dismantling sanctions to reward reforms.
With huge natural resources and a strategic position between China and India, Myanmar is seen as a potentially huge market for foreign firms as it opens up to the world after decades of isolation.
President Thein Sein has vowed to put the economy at the centre of a new raft of reforms, following a series of dramatic political changes since almost half a century of outright military rule ended last year.
Myanmar has invited foreign firms to invest in the mining sector and signed a series of oil exploration deals with foreign companies.
Critics say the rewards of the nation’s energy bounty have so far only been shared among foreign investors and the regime, rather than its impoverished people.