Interview: U Win Tun
What investment opportunities exist in wood-based industries? What steps can Myanmar take to encourage further investment in timber processing?
U WIN TUN: Recent reforms to the investment law have allowed forestry investors 100% investment in woodbased industries, which has increased foreign interest. In my opinion, Myanmar has to take action in order to move forward and encourage further investment into its timber-processing industry by developing an integrated supply chain in the sector. Raw materials must also become available at reasonable prices. Other priorities include upgrading infrastructure, improving technology, boosting the capacity of human resources, developing a robust market and creating an admirable working environment for all investors.
What impact is the ban on the export of logs likely to have on local finished products?
TUN: I believe that the ban on the export of logs will have a positive impact on local finished products. It will help the industry by providing long-term benefits for forest resources, enhancing employment opportunities, advancing high technology, supplying more raw materials to the local wood-based industry and improving capacity in human resources. As a result of decades of sanctions, Myanmar finds itself economically behind other nations in the region.
How important is the development of forestry in the overall advancement of the economy?
TUN: It is very important to develop the forestry sector, as it is inextricably linked to sectors such as agriculture, livestock, water, tourism, health, transport, mining, energy and industry. It also can have a positive impact on social welfare. Development of the sector through sustainable management of forests, promotion of wood-based industry and systematic utilisation can allow us to achieve our aim of environmental sustainability, overall advancement of the national economy and sustainable development of the country.
With ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) integration nearing, how does Myanmar plan to increase its regional competitiveness in wood processing?
TUN: To increase the country’s competitiveness in wood-based industries, we have been creating encouraging conditions for investors. The most significant effort is the implementation of national reform strategies in many areas, including fiscal and tax reforms, monetary and financial sector reforms, liberalisation of trade and investment, private sector development, and governance and transparency. The Foreign Investment Law was also promulgated in 2012. We have been trying to create a robust market, realise sustainable economic growth, develop our workforce and create an integrated supply chain with strong infrastructure that will allow high returns on investment. By doing so, we hope to achieve equitable development in an economically competitive and ecologically dynamic region, and to narrow the development gaps among the AEC.
What actions is the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry taking to preserve forests?
TUN: The Ministry has been implementing numerous actions, such as strengthening sustainable forest management, extending permanent forest estate and restoring damaged forests. We are accomplishing these through public-private partnership on projects such as reforestation of the Bago Yoma Region and Inle Lake areas, rehabilitation of the Dry Zone and restoring the mangroves in Ayeyarwady Delta. We are scaling up community forestry as part of the effort to decentralise forest management to allow local communities to participate. We are also extending the network of protected areas and taking the initiative to reduce emissions from deforestation, limit forest degradation and enhance carbon stock. Finally, we are strengthening law enforcement, governance and trade, and promoting ecotourism and payment for ecosystem services, as well as formulating a land use policy. With these plans in place we are aiming to preserve Myanmar’s forests.
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