Myanmar ripe for Vietnam foray:experts

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Now is a good time for Vietnamese companies to start exporting to and investing in Myanmar as the closed economy has a huge demand for consumer goods, experts say.

When Myanmar's economy is officially open, it will be difficult to enter the market because of tough competition, the Vietnam Economic Times on Thursday cited experts as saying.

Vietnam's ambassador to Myanmar, Chu Cong Phung, said that with local production able to meet just 10 percent of demand, Myanmar has to depend heavily on imported goods. Vietnamese products have many opportunities to enter this market, he said.

According to the customs department, trade between Vietnam and Myanmar reached US$93 million last year, down 14.1 percent compared to 2008. Vietnam was the 14th largest exporter to Myanmar and main shipments were steel, drugs, medical equipment, production materials and cosmetics.

Bilateral trade recovered this year, reaching $70 million in the first five months, double that of the same period last year.

As importers in Myanmar are also exporters, they will not have problem making and receiving payments, Phung said. But since the economy is still closed, prices in Myanmar are lower than in the global market, he noted.

Vietnam has invested $173 million in 20 projects in Myanmar, much higher than the $30 million recorded prior to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung's visit to Myanmar this April.

Experts said despite the potential, Vietnamese investors should pay attention to certain difficulties in Myanmar including a highly bureaucratic economic system based on subsidies and the lack of a banking system to support payments.

Hoang Huy Ha, of the Bank for Investment and Development said his bank will open a branch in Myanmar soon with a capital of $200 million to facilitate trading between the two countries.

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