See More on Facebook

Diplomacy, Economics

Korean firms flock to ‘Asia’s last frontier’ Myanmar

Posco, Woori, Shinhan, Eximbank among entities seeing wider business opportunities.

Written by

Updated: September 6, 2019

In line with President Moon Jae-in’s tour of Southeast Asia this week, South Korean business leaders and ranking officials visited Myanmar, the reclusive country bordering China — that is opening up now.

Several of them chose to visit Myanmar exclusively –- from Tuesday to Thursday — skipping Moon’s other destinations such as Thailand and Laos. Eyeing its economic potential and geographical attractiveness, they clinched new deals and partnerships with the country called Asia’s “last frontier,” due to its last minute decision to open doors to foreign investors less than a decade ago.

Among them was Posco International, the trade and resources development arm of Korea’s leading steelmaker, which said Thursday it completed construction of a rice processing complex in an area connecting the country’s main rice-producing Ayeyarwady region and Yangon Port.

The complex’s annual production capacity will reach 86,000 tons, the firm said. Combined with its previous investment in a separate complex in Myanmar that generates an annual 15,000 tons, the firm is expected to gain local infrastructure that produces and distributes 100,000 tons of rice every year.

Posco International, which has pursued the milling processing project since the early days of Myanmar’s opening of its economy, plans to export the rice to China, Middle East, and Europe, taking advantage of Myanmar’s geographical state.

“Myanmar has a lot of several uncultivated land and minimizes use of fertilizers resulting in higher productions,” a Posco International official said in a statement.

“The Myanmar government is also carrying out economic policies centered around its agricultural sector, meaning that its rice-processing business has high growth potential,” he added.

Myanmar’s abundant natural resources is not the only factor that attracts South Korean businesses — sensing its desire to expand its financial sector, CEOs of South Korea’s major commercial banks inked several deals that aim to expand their presence within the country.

On the sidelines of the South Korea-Myanmar Economic Cooperation Forum held Wednesday, Woori Financial Group, one of the nation’s largest banking firms, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

They aim to aid firms in both countries hoping to enter each other’s markets and will cooperate in exchanging information related to application processes, financial business and investment and providing support for the companies.

Woori Financial Group Chairman Sohn Tae-seung met with U Zaw Min Win, president of UMFCCI to sign a memorandum of understanding.

Shinhan Bank, another major commercial lender here, also signed an MOU with the Korea Trade Insurance Corporation in Myanmar on Wednesday, to financially support Myanmar importers of South Korean products. KTIC plans to issue export insurance to Shinhan’s Myanmar branch and using the insurance as a guarantee, Shinhan will be able to offer loans to local firms.

Chiefs of Industrial Bank of Korea and KB Kookmin were also visiting Myanmar to further foster their own businesses.

For the moment, Shinhan is the only Korean bank operating a branch there, while most lenders operate offices. Their business has been largely restricted to loan services for foreign entities in foreign currencies, with the Myanmar government’s yet cautious stance.

Despite the government’s strict attitude, Myanmar continues to be a lucrative market for Korean lenders, who are making an aggressive foray into the market in recent years. The country launched its own Yangon Stock Exchange in 2015, indicating its willingness to further open up its financial market.

Korea and Myanmar also plan to build a joint industrial zone just north of Yangon by 2024.

The state-run Export-Import Bank of Korea signed an agreement with Myanmar’s Finance Ministry regarding an Economic Development Cooperation Fund worth $160 million to help build and improve infrastructure. The fund will be used to establish an electronic data center and improve infrastructures near the industrial complex.

Myanmar has been maintaining an annual economic growth rate of around 7 percent in recent years.

by Jung Min-kyung

Enjoyed this story? Share it.

The Korea Herald
About the Author: The Korea Herald is the nation’s largest English-language daily and the country’s sole member of the Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia

Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy, Economics

US-Thai defence treaty looks to cement alliance in 21st century

Thailand is the US’ oldest treaty ally in Southeast Asia. Thailand and the United States have signed a defence treaty to enable stability, prosperity and sustainability in the Indo-Pacific region “in support of an inclusive and rules-based international order”. The US-Thailand Joint Vision Statement 2020 advances the 2018 US National Defence Strategy and Thailand’s 20-Year National Strategy objectives “by reaffirming our shared commitment to the long-standing defence alliance”, according to a statement issued by the US embassy in Bangkok on Sunday. “It strengthens the special relationship with a focus on the long-term advancement of mutual interests and shared values while also promoting security cooperation capable of deterring or acting decisively to meet the shared challenges of the future”, the statement added. Academics said the move reaffirmed US policy o

By The Nation (Thailand)
November 18, 2019

Diplomacy, Economics

Coming challenges call for stronger Korea-ASEAN ties

President Moon Jae-in contributed this article to The Korea Herald and Asia News Network member newspapers on the occasion of the 2019 ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit.  Next week, November 25-27, the 2019 ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit and the 1st Mekong-Republic of Korea Summit will be held in Korea. In particular, since my hometown Busan will play host to the events, I am very much looking forward to them – as if I have invited valued guests to my home. I send early greetings in a warm welcome to the heads of state and government as well as to the Secretary-General of ASEAN. The Republic of Korea was ASEAN’s first dialogue partner to establish an ASEAN Culture House. Koreans love ASEAN so much that the National ASEAN Recreation Forest was created complete with cabins modeled after the various traditional housing styles of the 10 ASEAN member states. After I took offic

By Asia News Network
November 18, 2019

Diplomacy, Economics

N. Korea says it sent ultimatum to S. Korea over Mount Kumgang project

Mount Kumgang is a joint economic venture. North Korea sent an ultimatum to South Korea earlier this week that it will unilaterally remove the South-built facilities from its Mount Kumgang resort unless Seoul tears them down on its own, Pyongyang’s official news agency reported Friday. The North’s tough stance suggests little room for inter-Korean negotiations that South Korea has sought in an effort to keep the long-suspended tour project that was considered one of the most tangible symbols of inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (Yonhap) “We sent an ultimatum on Nov. 11 that i

By The Korea Herald
November 15, 2019

Diplomacy, Economics

China, India doing ‘absolutely nothing’ to clean up

Garbage they drop in sea floats into Los Angeles: Donald Trump. US President Donald Trump at the Economic Club of New York on Tuesday, has said countries like China, India and Russia are doing “absolutely nothing” to clean up their smokestacks and industrial plants and the garbage that they drop in sea floats into Los Angeles. Trump also claimed that he considers himself to be, “in many ways, an environmentalist, believe it or not”. US president said that climate change is a “very complex issue.” “So…I’m very much into climate. But I want the cleanest air on the planet and I want to have – I have to have clean air – water,” Mr Trump said in remarks at the Economic Club of New York. Trump while addressing the audience said that the US withdrew from the “one-sided, horrible, horrible, economically unfair, ”close your businesses down within three

By The Statesman
November 14, 2019

Diplomacy, Economics

Terminating GSOMIA may send ‘wrong’ message to adversaries

Wartime OPCON transfer is contingent upon conditions being met, says top US military official stationed in Korea. By terminating its bilateral intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan, South Korea risks sending the wrong message — that the trilateral alliance of South Korea, the US and Japan is weak — Gen. Robert Abrams, commander of the US-ROK Combined Forces Command, said Tuesday. Marking his first year in office, Abrams, who also commands United States Forces Korea and the United Nations Command, spoke on a series of current issues, including the ongoing defense cost-sharing negotiations and the alliance, during a joint press interview.

By The Korea Herald
November 14, 2019

Diplomacy, Economics

Continued chaos on Hong Kong roads due to strikes

All schools shut on Thursday to protect students. Hong Kong on Wednesday (Nov 13) faced a third straight day of traffic chaos as protesters continued their strike,  obstructing roads and fighting pitched battles with police across the city as schools cancelled classes. The Education Bureau announced that all schools including kindergarten, primary and secondary as well as special schools will suspend lessons on Thursday (Nov 14) out of safety concerns. The Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools has asked the Education Bureau to suspend school on Friday as well. “In some schools situated under the impact of confrontational events, teachers and students had their lessons amidst the tear gas,

By The Straits Times
November 14, 2019