Burma Business Roundup (Saturday, February 25)
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Burma Business Roundup (Saturday, February 25)


By WILLIAM BOOT / THE IRRAWADDY Saturday, February 25, 2012


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‘Close Neighbor’ Burma gets VIP Treatment from Beijing

The visit to China by the leader of Burma’s House of Representatives, Shwe Mann, to foster “better bilateral ties” comes as China embarks on a public relations campaign to win back the massive hydroelectric project on the Irrawaddy River.

A series of reports in the Chinese government newspaper People’s Daily have painted a rosy picture of the Myitsone hydro dam, construction of which has been suspended by President Thein Sein on environmental grounds.

And in recent days there have been reports of the main Chinese contractor for the dam, China Power Investment Corporation, embarking on a public relations campaign around the site in Kachin State to win back support.

It’s not clear if economic investment will be on the agenda of Shwe Mann’s talks during his five-day visit until Sunday, but the official Chinese news agency Xinhua described it as “promoting the existing friendly and cooperative relations between [Burma] and China.”

Xinhua quoted former general Shwe Mann in a brief interview as saying, “Whenever there is urgency, China stands by Myanmar [Burma].”

Some analysts say it seems like more than coincidence that just ahead of Shwe Mann’s visit, Chinese media have been spotlighting both the Myitsone project and the gas and oil pipelines being built through Burma into China’s neighboring Yunnan Province.

The People’s Daily said this week that the gas pipeline running from the coast had achieved an “important breakthrough” in crossing the Irrawaddy.

It referred to Burma as a close neighbor and true friend.

“Chinese companies have got a lot of money tied up in the Myitsone project, but more than that the southern region of the Chinese province of Yunnan was banking on the electricity from it,” Bangkok energy industries analyst Sar Watana told The Irrawaddy this week.

“Yunnan’s own hydro systems on the upper Irrawaddy and the Mekong have been under-performing due to poor water flows.”

If built, the US $3.6 billion dam would have an electricity generating capacity of 6,000 megawatts.

Tavoy Port Development in Limbo with Electricity Supply in Doubt

Plans by the Bangkok construction conglomerate Italian-Thai Development (ITD) to create a big new port and industrial center at Tavoy on Burma’s southeast coast are faltering.

ITD has been refused permission to build a massive 4,000 megawatt coal-fueled electricity generating plant to power the project and Burma’s Energy Minister Than Htay has said gas fuel may not be possible either.

The Thai firm declined to comment this week but is understood to be discussing options for a power plant with other potential Thai investors, including Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding.

Energy experts have dismissed as unrealistic suggestions by Tin Maung Swe, head of a Burmese government liaison committee on the Tavoy project, that the special economic zone could be powered by cleaner resources such as wind turbine farms or solar systems.

“Italian-Thai’s plan calls for a 4,000 MW power station at the heart of the Dawei [Tavoy] project and so environmentally gentle energy sources like wind and sun are just not feasible,” Bangkok energy industries consultant Collin Reynolds told The Irrawaddy.

“The technology for renewable energy sourced systems is not that advanced. You would have to cover the coast for miles with wind turbines or cover thousands of hectares with expensive solar panels to generate that volume of electricity.”

Leading US Investor Says Burma is the Country to Watch

Prominent international investor Jim Rogers, who co-founded the Quantum fund with financier and philanthropist George Soros, has compared developments in Burma with the economic re-awakening of China in the late 1970s.

The American, who designed the Rogers International Commodities Index, told a Singapore business conference: “If I could put all of my money into Myanmar, I would.”

“[Burma] is in the same place China was in early 1979, when Deng Xiaoping said we have to do something new.



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Blindkin Wrote:
29/02/2012
Say No to Chinese. It only benefits them.

Bill Gov Wrote:
27/02/2012
Dear Mr Jim Rogers,

That's a BIG BOLD "IF". You do not even understand a single word of Burmese language. What more understanding the investment climate in Burma.

tocharian Wrote:
26/02/2012
I don't agree with Rogers. The 2 countries are very different, but more importantly, the times are very different. In any case, the NLD (remember the khamauk logo) should be on the side of the poor workers and peasants (99.9% of Burma's population) and not on the side of the exploiters (mostly Chinese businessmen (Singaporeans included).
I totally oppose all the dams and pipelines, China wants to build in Burma, since they are doing it purely for their own selfish interests. Bribing and extorting corrupt Burmese tayoke-pu-hsein-yoe's (traitors) is not the way to go. Even building schools in Burma is just a way of "sinicizing" the country, which is their ultimate goal.

Win Han Wrote:
26/02/2012
Even a small entity like Hong Kong has 3800 MW Coal plant and many smaller ones. It seems absurd to hear that Myanmar is reluctant to build 4000MW Coal plant. How about living in dark ages?

Pe Kyaw Htin Wrote:
26/02/2012
Welcome to Mr. Jim Rogers, George Soros, Bill Gates and all wellwishers around the world to Myanmar!
We have to do many things new, in Myanmar. We need their sincere help, knowledge,experience, and capital investment.

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