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Investment in Myanmar-Bangladeshi businessmen have to wait till first quarter of next year

Wednesday October 12 2005 09:29:42 AM BDT to this article.

Bangladeshi entrepreneurs who are now looking to invest in some secpors of Myanmar for productive use of their expertise may have to wait till first quarter of the next year, reports UNB.

AS Jahir Muhammad, member of the National Board of Revenue (NBR), said that a comprehensive agreement initially agreed upon by the two countries is now under vetting by the Law Ministry. The authorities are now scrutinizing the 30-point provisional accord signed earlier.

"It will take up to February to March to finish all the procedures of the agreement from both parties," he said.

The two sides inked agreed minutes on the umbrella agreement in Dhaka on August 24 in the second phase of negotiations. In the first phase of the negotiations, held September 15-17, 2003 in Yangon, the two sides had agreed on 10 articles of the deal. The remaining 20 articles were finalized in the Dhaka meet.

The major ones of the 30 articles are on shipping and air communications, dividend, interest, royalty, capital profit and student-trainees.

In the minutes it is stated that the native air authority would pay the tax in the respective country. The tax would be paid for ship plying at half the applicable rate.

The dividend-recipient person will pay his tax in his native country while the income from the interest will be payable in the country wherein the money earned. For royalty the rule will be the same as of interest. Students and trainees would be exempt from paying tax on earnings up to $2,000.

During signing the agreement, the NBR official also had said that Myanmar could be an alternative source of Bangladesh for importing various essential goods like onions, rice and ginger at crisis moment.

"The agreement is now taking the berthing time for the final approval of the agreement," he said about the latest status of the proposed deal.

According to the NBR member (Income Tax Policy) it is now high time Bangladesh transferred expert people to Myanmar for grabbing its market by using their know-how.

Bangladesh has account-trade arrangemenp with the natural resource-rich but cash-strapped country, which is a trading system without needing foreign currency as hard cash for business transaction.

"We are now looking to invest in Myanmar in some sectors like ceramics, garments, melamine, pharmaceuticals, timber and gas," Jahir Muhammad told UNB.

Bangladesh fetched US$ 4.18 million through exporting different commodities to Myanmar in 2004-2005 fiscal year while the bills for imports from Myanmar amounted to US$ 32.66 million during the same period.

On the other hand, realizing Bangladeshi entrepreneurs’ expertise in various sectors, Commerce Minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury has proposed that Myanmar lease out its unplanted and fallow lands to Bangladesh for commercial crop production.

The Commerce Minister made the overtures on September 25 to his Myanmar counterpart Tin Naing Thein at a meeting held at the commerce ministry.

He said that Bangladesh would go for commercial cultivation of various types of crops or invest in other sectors in Myanmar if the Army-ruled country leased out some of its forlorn land to Bangladesh—an overpopulated country short of adequate land for cultivating some essentials.

The Minister also apprised that the two sides agreed in principal to relax the visa process and extend its duration for the businesspeople for their uninterrupted stay in the two countries for boosting bilateral trade.

The meeting also agreed to amend the existing Coastal Shipping Agreement to facilitate easy and cost-effective movement of ships between the two countries.

"Through the amendment, the non-conventional ships will be allowed to move toward the Chittagong port via Teknaf and it will reduce the carrying time and cost as well," he said.

Myanmar Commerce Minister Tin Naing Thein has said that the discussions focused on enhancing the bilateral trade relations between the two friendly countries.


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