The Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) has expanded the list of businesses that can be owned 100 per cent by foreign investors, as the country aims to attract more foreign investment.

In an August 2014 directive, replacing the January 2013 directive, the MIC – which oversees foreign investment in the country – said that foreign investors with joint ventures in 30 industries, including beverage and small and medium- sized power generating, can boost their ownership to 100 per cent.

Full foreign ownership can be granted to 43 joint venture businesses with endorsement from relevant ministries. Aside, it defines 21 industries that must be operated under special terms and conditions. For instance, cigarette production is permitted on the condition that the investors must use at least 50 per cent of local content and 90 per cent of the output must be exported. Full ownership is now granted in several areas, including mining, construction, construction material production, jewellery products, coal exports, hydro power and coal-fired power generation.

The oil and gas sector will remain a restricted area: all foreign investors must operate the business in Myanmar only through joint ventures with the Energy Ministry.
Under the Foreign Investment Law, the ministry must hold partial control on the construction of containers, ports, pipelines and related developments to facilitate the export/import, transportation, warehousing, and distribution of oil and gas. Oil exploration also falls into this category, requiring the ministry to hold a stake in offshore oil rigs and chemical factories.