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COVID-19 second wave more severe on local firms than first

The economic impact of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been more severe on Myanmar businesses than the first wave, according to the World Bank’s latest firm-level survey. The latest survey, the fourth in a series of eight surveys planned, was conducted in September and covered a nationally representative sample of 500 firms. The survey, which covers the second wave of COVID-19 and re-introduction of stay-at-home orders that started initially in Rakhine in late August and then in Yangon in early September, found that local firms were not well-prepared to withstand the second wave. Of those surveyed, 66 percent reported that they were not ready, and agricultural, micro and smaller firms were founded to be the least prepared.

On average, 83pc of firms in Myanmar reported a negative impact on their businesses, an increase from the 75pc reported in August. Firms of all sizes experienced a rise in temporary closures in September after the government imposed stay-at-home orders on businesses in Yangon. As compared to August, all sectors except those in agriculture, saw a rise in business closures. As people have lower incomes, spending has declined and consumer demand has fallen. As a result, there are more difficulties for businesses. It will take time for the country’s economy to recover. That efforts are needed to rebuild entire supply chains using resources in the country, from raw material to finished products, to meet the needs of the domestic market and to increase export capacity to foreign markets. Reducing in sales remains the number one concern of firms surveyed, more so far smaller firms than larger ones.

The share of firms reporting a reduction in sales in 93pc in September, a 12 percentage point increase from August. Issues related to capital appears to be a growing problem for a greater share of firms in September. There were more firms that filed for insolvency and bankruptcy, laid off workers and experienced difficulties with making payments on loans and credits facilities compared to before. In September, half of the surveyed firms in agriculture and about a third of retail and wholesale firms reported the likelihood of falling into arrears within the next three months. With the onset of the second wave, firms reported less confidence that they will remain open for business. Firms in September expressed less confidence regarding their likelihood of remaining operational in one month, compared to August.

Source: Myanmar Times

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Myanmar to promote agri-exports posts COVID-19

Myanmar will raise efforts to add value to the domestic agriculture industry by promoting exports post COVID-19, said U Khin Maung Lwin, assistant secretary for the Ministry of Commerce. They will take action to promote their best crops internationally, including rice, corn and beans after the pandemic, adding that similar efforts will be made to promote Myanmar fisheries and livestock, as “these areas have good export potential.” Despite the pandemic, agriculture and maritime exports have increased in the current fiscal year so far, compared to the same period in fiscal 2019-2020. For example, Myanmar has so far exported about 2.2 million tonnes of corn to Thailand, which pigeon peas are being sold to India.

The country will also focus on promoting the export of new crops such as coffee and is already making efforts to penetrate new markets. According to the Myanmar Coffee Association, Myanmar will expand its local highland coffee exports through Singapore. They are connecting with new markets in the region through Singapore. The association last month participated in the Singapore Specialty Coffee Online Auction 2020, which provides a platform for global coffee bean producers to promote and introduce their beans to an Asian market, using Singapore as a hub. Myanmar’s coffee garnered international interest during the auction, despite the lack of buyers due to COVID-19. A local coffee entrepreneur demand for Myanmar-produced coffee should rise due to its superior quality. Then, their coffee production rate and sales will gradually get broader.

Raising exports will also help the country further narrow the trade deficit. In fiscal 2019-20, total trade between Myanmar and foreign countries amounted to US$36.6 billion. Between October 1, 2019 and September 30, Myanmar exports totaled over US$17.6 billion while imports reached over US$19 billion. As a result, the country recorded a trade deficit of US$1.3 billion, up from over US$ 1 billion in fiscal 2018-19. Myanmar needs to make preparations and arrangements to increase trade volumes as it might face setbacks due to COVID-19 in fiscal 2020-21. The NLD government has already moved key trade administrative functions, such as applying for import and export licenses, online. Myanmar can further increase exports by producing value-added products which are competitive in price and quality.

Source: Myanmar Times

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MoTC further extends international flight ban to end-Nov

The effective period of the Temporary Measures to Prevent Importation of COVID-19 to Myanmar through Air Travel issued on 29 March 2020 by the Ministry of Health and Sports was extended up to 31 October 2020, 23:59 hours Myanmar Standard Time, in line with the approval of the National Level Central Committee on Prevention, Control and Treatment of COVID-19.

In order to continue to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Myanmar effectively, the existing period has been further extended, in accordance with the approval of the National-Level Central Committee for Prevention, Control and Treatment of COVID-19, until 30 November 2020, 23:59 hours of Myanmar Standard Time.

Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar

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Announcement on Extension of the Precautionary Restriction Measures Relating to Control of the COVID-19 Pandemic until 30 November 2020

  1. With a view to the further strengthening of measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of
    the Union of Myanmar has issued the following announcements regarding temporary entry restrictions for visitors from all countries. All those restrictions were
    extended until 31 October 2020 by the Ministry’s announcement dated 28 September 2020.
    (a) Announcement dated 15 March 2020 regarding precautionary measures for all travellers visiting Myanmar;
    (b) Announcement dated 20 March 2020 regarding additional precautionary measures for travellers visiting Myanmar and temporary suspension of
    issuance of visa on Arrival and e-visa;
    (c) Announcement dated 24 March 2020 regarding additional precautionary measures for travellers from all countries visiting Myanmar;
    (d) Announcement dated 28 March 2020 regarding temporary suspension of all types of visas (including social visit visas) and visa exemption services.
  2. In order to continue its effective response measures to protect the population of the country from the risks of importation and spread of the COVID-19, the
    Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar has decided to extend the afore-mentioned entry restriction measures until 30 November 2020.
  3. In case of urgent official missions or compelling reasons, foreign nationals, including diplomats and United Nations officials, who wish to travel to Myanmar
    by available relief or special flights, may contact the nearest Myanmar Mission for possible exception with regard to certain visa restrictions. However, all visitors
    must abide by existing directives issued by the Ministry of Health and Sports relating to the prevention and control of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar

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Southeast Asia sees big shift to e-commerce during COVID-19

Driven by changing consumer trends during COVID-19, the Southeast Asian e-commerce industry has grown substantially in the first six months of the year, according to a recent report by price comparison and product aggregating website iPrice Group. The report pointed out major changes in consumers’ behaviors and the e-commerce industry brought about by COVID-19 in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines, mainly a strong shift from offline to online in consumer spending. In the first half of 2020, website traffic of online general department stores increased in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore by up to 18 percent compared to the second half of 2019.

E-commerce providers across the region were quick to adapt to the new trends. For example, almost all major e-commerce marketplace in the region had multiple sales campaigns to promote health supplements and groceries. Some invested in logistics to assure these essentials get to the consumers. In April, Lazada expanded their fresh produce category to Malaysia, Vitenam, and Indonesia. In May, Vietnamese company Tiki introduced TikiNGON – a service to deliver groceries in three hours. In the second quarter of the year, the total number of sessions on shopping applications in Southeast Asia reached 65.1 billion, which is an increase of 39pc compared to Q1. Leading this jump in usage is the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam with increases of 53pc, 50pc, and 43pc respectively. Meanwhile, Indonesia leads the region in absolute number with 28.5 billion sessions in 2Q alone.

Service available already on Telenor Zay include groceries and food delivery, health care service such as online medical appointments and telemedical consultations as well as the purchase of vehicle insurance services. A recent report by Telenor showed that COVID-19 has led to a surge in online shopping. Services that deliver food, groceries, medical supplies and packages are thriving in Myanmar. This has also led to rising adoption of digital payment methods, with data analytics company Statistic projecting a 7.1 pc increase in digital transitions and a 19.7pc rise in the number of users in Myanmar this year. Online shopping will see significant growth in Myanmar going forward, especially as the digital ecosystem and the digital readiness of both customers and businesses continue to evolve.

Source: Myanmar Times

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CMP factory reopened with controversial ratings Workshops

On September 20, the Ministry of Health and Sports issued Order No. 107/2020 that all townships in Rangoon Division (except Ko Ko Kyun Township) must be provided with Stay Home to control COVID-19 again. Similarly, government departments; Medicine Organizations other than the food industry and daily personal care factories; Take raw materials with companies. Freight Forwarding (CMP) factory; Workshops will not be allowed to work from September 24 to October 7. As a result of this statement, government departments, Banks Medicine Organizations other than the food industry and daily personal care factories; Take raw materials with companies. Freight Forwarding (CMP) factory; All workshops were temporarily closed.

On the evening of October 5, almost two weeks after the temporary closure, the Ministry of Health and Sports issued another statement. The statement was issued to a factory operating a CMP business. All factories will be closed for another two weeks from October 8 to October 21. Workers in the factories were again worried about their livelihood. However, a statement issued by the Ministry of Health and Sports on October 10 stated that Among the workshops, A-level factories; Workshops will be allowed to open on October 12. After the announcement, on October 12, Hlaing Thar Yar Industrial Zone in Rangoon Region; Shwe Pyi Thar Industrial Zone, Mingaladon Industrial Zone, Factories A-level in the former COVID-19 first wave in Dagon Seikkan Township have reopened.

The factory reopened on October 12. Most of the workshops are factories that received Level A in the previous COVID-19 first wave. There are workshops. The Ministry of Health and Sports has not recently inspected the factories, according to the chairmen of the relevant industrial zones. These ratings have been in place since the first wave last April. Since then, the ratings have been mixed with the factories that have been opened and the factories that have been reopened. There are also workshops. Trade unions have come under fire. In addition, the regional government has not officially announced the number of factories that have been allowed to open, nor the number of factories that will be allowed to operate under any criteria.

The Bs, on the other hand, look at the letter from the Prime Minister’s contract, which was checked in the first wave. Close and reopen only when this is the case. Level B factories return after repair. If not, it will come back soon. If the B-rated factories are ordered to be repaired and not submitted within three or four days, the Ministry of Health will inspect. CMP Factory Workshops are rated 10 points for rating. Things to do: Stay at Home; Physical Distancing (for work from home) is not possible. Mouth and nose bandages for every worker; Instructions for wearing gloves and adequate support; Staff Sickness; Transporation; Entrance / Exit; Hygiene; Cleanliness and Disinfection; Meals and Rest; They measure and check with 10 points such as general. According to the survey, if the requirements are met, the requirements should be level B and the requirements should be further adjusted while opening the plant. In addition to the A and B criteria, workers are required to enter the workplace from the time they board the ferry; Wear a mask. Faceshield mounting; Hand washing; There are basic rules in the factory, such as putting up vignette vignettes and leaving three feet away for meals.

However, with the rating, As factories reopened, workers were forced to return to work. The health of these returning workers is in the hands of the government and employers. The Rangoon Region government provides food and shelter for the workers. The employer’s business; For the sake of the country’s economy, With the reopening of workplaces and the rapid spread of Kovis, there is an urgent need to inspect existing factories for compliance with health regulations to ensure that workers are not infected. Safe workplaces are needed to control long-running epidemics and keep businesses afloat.

Source: Daily Eleven

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Govt drafts new recovery, reform plan for Myanmar economy

The government is drafting a new Myanmar Economic Recovery and Reform Plan (MERRP) after a recent review of the COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan (CERP), which was rolled out on April 27, U Thaung Tun, Minister of Investment and Economic Relations, said at during webinar organized by AusCham Myanmar last week. “We know that short-term stimulus measures must be complemented by longer-term policy reform,” U Thaung Tun said.

As the CERP was implemented as a short-term response plan to mitigate the immediate impact of COVID-19 on households and businesses, the MERRP as an extension of the CERP will set out a recovery plan aimed at rebuilding the Myanmar economy over the longer term. The new plan will focus on macroeconomic and financial stability and prioritize growth strategies that are sustainable for the economy in the long run, such as investments in energy sources that are renewable. It will also include support for agriculture, infrastructure that boosts connectivity as well as human capital and innovation.

The MERRP will comprise six goals, 16 strategies and more than 130 action plans. These will include extending some of the support packages laid out in the CERP should parts of the economy still be struggling to survive effects of COVID-19, according to U Set Aung, Deputy Minister of Planning, Finance and Industry. The government has so far spent more than K4 trillion under the CERP, accounting for around 3.4 percent of GDP. This includes loans to businesses in various sectors. A total of K100 billion has so far been extended to over 4000 businesses in garment manufacturing and hotels and tourism. A second K100 billion tranche is now in the process of being disbursed.

A total of K530 billion was also extended to the construction, health and social welfare sectors. The CERP also included cash handouts to households and civil servants. Up to August, the government had distributed over K400 billion to support households, excluding a further K107 billion expensed to subsidies electricity tariffs for the months of April, May and June.

Source: Myanmar Times