APFL & Partners > News > THE WEEK IN BRIEF MYANMAR: 25 JAN 2020

Welcome to the latest edition of our regular legal update from the A&P Myanmar office.

This week, we highlight new support from the IMF to help recover from COVID-19, challenges for two of Myanmar’s Special Economic Zones, and upcoming digitalisation of land records.

To learn more about one of these changes, just contact our office for more information.

IMF Green-Lights Emergency Financial Package

The International Monetary Fund (“IMF”) has given the green light to a second emergency financial package to help reduce the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Myanmar.

On January 13, the IMF announced a package of 258 million Special Drawing Rights (“SDRs”) – an international reserve asset based on a basket of major currencies – worth around US$350 million. This support is aimed at mitigating the impact of the virus and supporting vulnerable people.

This is the second time the IMF has approved support for Myanmar, and comes after a similar package was announced in June 2020. It brings the total financial package agreed with the IMF during COVID-19 to around US$ 700 million.

It is hoped that the funding will help to unlock other international financial assistance and support the Myanmar Economic Recovery and Reform Plan (“MERRP”) – which will increase spending on health care and introduce tax relief measures.

Just 24 hours before the IMF announcement, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi visited Myanmar and pledged 300,000 vaccines to support the country’s vaccination drive. This first leg of his tour of South East Asia also included the signing of economic, trade, and technical cooperation agreements between the two countries.

Special Economic Zones Face Challenges

The first phase of the Dawei Special Economic Zone (“SEZ”) has been put on hold after the zone’s Management Committee terminated contracts with all nine of the initial phase projects.  

The landmark infrastructure project, which first began construction in 2013, is set to be one of the biggest industrial zones in South East Asia once it is completed – covering around 20,000 hectares of land with an adjoining port.

Following this development – announced on 18 January – the Committee can now re-start the search for new partners, with potential Japanese investment hoped to fund a resurgence of the project.

Meanwhile, Zone B of the Thilawa Special Economic Zone – the first-ever SEZ in Myanmar, located on the outskirts of Yangon – is on-hold after Phase 4 of the project encountered opposition from a small handful of local residents.

Financial support had been offered to almost 60 people living in the area to help them with the costs of relocation and re-housing, however four have appealed for higher compensation.

Land Database Going Digital

Land ownership in Myanmar will soon become more transparent after the Minister of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations announced the upcoming launch of an online land database.

Building on the growing use of digital transactions and online services, Minister U Thaung Tun unveiled the idea during a recent webinar with the British Chamber of Commerce, where he said that it is hoped that the online database would make land ownership clearer.

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