Bordering India, China, Thailand and Bangladesh, with a population of 55 million people who are hungry for just about everything, Myanmar is attracting the kind of investor interest not seen since China opened up two decades ago.
Japanese businesses are getting the kind of encouragement from their government that British companies can only dream of; pledges of around £1bn in soft loans, summit meetings, and an agreement to build a modern industrial park on a 2,400-hectare site outside Yangon, which will offer Japanese manufacturers the kind of infrastructure – reliable power, water and port facilities – unavailable elsewhere.
Japan is offering help to modernise Myanmar’s dilapidated railways, to upgrade its woefully inadequate electricity grid, to transform its urban planning. Tokyo’s ambitions in Myanmar seem limitless.
In a sign of continued trade interest from Japan, firm Mori Hamada & Matsumoto is in the process of opening an office in Yangon. The opening of the new office will make Mori Hamada the second Japanese firm to have a base in Myanmar, the first being Nishimura &Asahibecame.