KDDI, Sumitomo raise stakes in Myanmar mobile battle – Nikkei Asian Review

On Sept. 2 in Yangon, an early morning queue for MPT's new  3G SIM cards  (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

YANGON – After partnering with KDDI and Sumitomo, Myanmar’s state-backed MPT in early September launched the first batch of 5 million $1.50 3G mobile SIM cards that it plans to sell this year. The release of the cards created minor havoc in Yangon’s downtown shopping district and elsewhere, drawing long queues.

Bye, by-elections – The Edge Review

Aung San Suu Kyi speaking June 2013 World Economic Forum BBC debate in Naypyidaw (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

YANGON – There was some feigned surprise when the election commission announced last weekend that Myanmar will not, after all, hold by-elections for 35 vacant parliamentary seats. The main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), said it was happy with annoucement. Commission head Tin Aye met with NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi on September 6, the day before the commission’s announcement.

Painting by numbers – The Edge Review/RTÉ World Report

Census taking in Pa-O village in Shan State in April  (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

YANGON – A little over six years ago, after holding a rigged referendum to adopt a disputed constitution, Myanmar’s junta announced, with almost comic certainty, that “the population of the country is 57,504,368,” despite not having held a census since 1983. Six years on, Myanmar’s nominally-civilian government can claim a better grasp on how many people actually live in the country.

Myanmar, Japan see promise, problems in economic zone – Nikkei Asian Review

Thilawa SEZ officials give presentation to would  be investors (Photo: Simon Roughneen)

THILAWA, Myanmar — The Thilawa Special Economic Zone might be just a 45-minute drive from downtown Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city and commercial hub, but the Japanese presence is unmissable. Outside the site offices — an island of prefabricated shelters surrounded by acres of upturned earth — a row of six flags dries in the breeze after a short downpour. The yellow, green and red of Myanmar alternates with Japan’s unmistakable red sun on a white background.

AEC jitters – The Edge Review

YANGON – Ahead of the proposed establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) at the end of 2015, many of Myanmar’s businesses are trembling.

“There is a perception among people in Myanmar that local products are low quality,” said Nwe Ni Wai, Executive Director of Yangon-based United Paint Group. She worried aloud that companies in Myanmar might struggle to compete with rivals from more advanced markets in the region, and in turn might struggle to make the most of opportunities in other markets.