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Myanmar Times: KWR releases investment guidebook update

 

BY STUART DEED   |   MONDAY, 04 MARCH 2013

KWR International has released its updated Myanmar investment guide, which is nearly twice as long as the original and is aimed at providing investors “with the information they need to develop an in-depth understanding of developments in Myanmar”.
KWR International president Keith Rabin said the guide – Business and Investment Opportunities in the “New” Myanmar – covers events until just before US President Barack Obama’s visit to Myanmar in November.
“Frankly, the situation is evolving so rapidly we thought it important to both update and give more depth to our coverage. The first edition was 57 pages long and published just before the April 2012 by-elections and the new edition is about twice the length – totalling more than 100 pages,” he told The Myanmar Times on February 20.
A new addition to the guide is a section on electricity, which Mr Rabin said was included in recognition of its importance to the country’s development.
“We also included a copy of the new Foreign Investment Law as an appendix. All of the sections, however, were updated where necessary and most were expanded, as evidenced by the fact the report is now about double the length of the first edition,” he said.
He added that writing the update took “about a month which was substantially less time than the first edition – both because the framework was in place and we are monitoring events on a daily basis for our own understanding as well as for a range of client projects – so most of the data had already been assembled”.
The lead analyst on the update was Christina Madden, Mr Rabin said.
He added that the rapid pace of Myanmar’s progress “continues to amaze”, with the people who know the country the best the most surprised by the changes.
The update also represents a change in tack from KWR regarding pricing and the intended buyers: The first edition was priced at US$395 and aimed at a “small group of large companies and institutions”. But Mr Rabin said it uncovered a much wider interest group.
“Thousands of people downloaded our executive summary and we received many inquiries from journalists, analysts, companies, investors, as well as academics who wanted to use it in their classrooms.
“These people sought to better understand the current situation in Myanmar, but could not justify the price we were charging for the full report,” he said.
Following a request from Myanmar Book Centre to cooperate in selling and marketing the update, Mr Rabin elected to drop the price significantly to $49 a copy.
“We decided this was a good opportunity to reach a larger audience, both in Myanmar and other markets, as a printed publication and ebook. While we just embarked on this strategy we have already received an inquiry about translating the report into a Japanese edition,” Mr Rabin said.
Mr Rabin added that finding accurate and specific information on Myanmar remains “very difficult”.
“Interestingly, the level of interest among potential investors and business partners is quite high – but the lack of available information makes it difficult to obtain the data needed to make decisions and to channel this enthusiasm into viable implementation strategies,” he said.
“This is a major obstacle that needs to be addressed whether this information be provided by the government or other parties.”
Mr Rabin said technical information, such as the details of specific laws and regulations, are relatively easy to track down but “underlying dynamics and attractions” were far more challenging, and the guide aimed to address this problem.
“That is where I think our report differs from many others. While we do address different laws and technical considerations, our primary emphasis is on providing a detailed understanding of the opportunities now emerging.
“By highlighting both positive and negative aspects of the transformation now underway, the reader is better able to better evaluate Myanmar’s potential, as well as the difficulties of operating in this market,” he said.
The guide is available at the Myanmar Book Centre and KWR International is also distributing the document through other outlets in the country, as well as at conferences and seminars, Mr Rabin said.
“We are also working with them to find distributors in other ASEAN and Asian markets, and are now making arrangements to offer it for sale in both hard copy and ebook form on Amazon, the Apple store and our www.myanmarbusiness development.com site,” he said.
It was also available at the “US-Myanmar Trade and Investment Relations: The Path Forward” conference in Yangon on February 25, which Mr Rabin said was treated as the official launch.