By Fone Ying Kyu
YANGON, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- The upcoming Rakhine State Investment Fair-2019, scheduled for Feb. 21-23 at Ngapali Beach in Thandwe, Myanmar's Rakhine state, will offer high hope of realizing full growth potential, observers said here on Wednesday.
Noting that Rakhine state lies near the Bay of Bengal, making it an economic proxy between China, India and countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Rakhine state Chief Minister U Nyi Pu told a press conference in Yangon on Tuesday that Rakhine state already has a long-term socio-economic development strategy in readiness, designed with the aid of international diplomats and experts.
Approved by the State Counselor, the strategy comprises of six main sectors, agriculture and livestock, fishery, eco-tourism, capacity building, transport and communication, and small industrial enterprises and industrial development.
The planned Rakhine State Investment Fair will be held with the cooperation of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), involving about 100 ethnic entrepreneurs, led by the Rakhine Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, State Minister U Kyaw Aye Thein also told the press conference.
Asked about the issue of stability in the state for investment, U Nyi Pu pointed out it is not the entire state that is undergoing instability, citing places like Ngapali and southern Rakhine which are very calm and stable and suitable for investment for development.
He pin-pointed that the issue concerning Rakhine state are occurring only in Maungtaw, Buthidaung and Yathedaung areas.
"If you invest in developing the entire Rakhine state, then those small areas will eventually become more stable and follow the trend to development," he said, advising not to see only the small area and miss the entire state.
During the incumbent government tenure, there are 17 foreign companies investing in Rakhine state with 12 in hotels and tourist, one in construction, three in livestock and one in oil and gas. Foreign investment during the past 16 years from 2000 to 2016 amounted to 9 billion U.S. dollars with the most investment being poured into the oil and gas sector.
With local people obtaining increased job opportunities, the local companies will gain capital, technology and market access through the investors, it was outlined at the press conference.
Rakhine state stands as the third least-developed zone in the country and it is the reason to prompt the grant of tax exemption for the initial 7 years if investing in Rakhine.
The Rakhine state government promised to help companies to sign memorandums of understanding (MoU) at the fair to acquire land needed for running their businesses within the legal time limit.
State Minister U Kyaw Aye Thein said the fair will introduce discussion programs on Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone and the Kaladan River All-Round Development Project which are calling for signing of MoUs on the projects, disclosing that the state government has acquired preliminary agreements with three companies.
Myanmar is also scheduled to hold regional investment forums in Rakhine state and Chin state, aimed at seeking investment for development in the less-developed region.
Under the new Myanmar Investment Law which was introduced on Aug. 1 last year, tax exemption and relief will be granted to investors depending on the development of the regions and states, allowing the investors in far-flung areas enjoy tax breaks of up to seven years.