Showroom owners call for clear automobile import policy
CONFUSION over car import policy could put off foreign investors, showroom owners are warning. They say investors who want to introduce new vehicles are unable to do so because of frequent changes in the rules.
Partly as a means of reducing traffic congestion in Yangon, the last government required importers to prove they had enough space to park the cars they wanted to bring into the country.
The current government suspended that regulation in April, but importers say the status of current regulations is unclear.
U Soe Htun, president of the Myanmar Automobile Manufacturers’ and Distributors’ Association (MAMDA), said, “Companies do not dare to invest in Myanmar. To open a car showroom in Yangon, you need to spend about K50 million for a good site.
“If it takes four or five months before you can start to operate, you stand to lose about K200 million, not counting staff and investment costs. If the government suddenly changes the rules, investors can lose their money and don’t want to invest again. The government should announce a clear policy.”
U Myo Myint Thein, of Toyota Motor Aye and Son, said that unstable import policies are inconveniencing foreign companies wishing to bring in vehicles and hurting economic development, well beyond the automobile industry.
“Foreign companies based in Yangon cannot buy cars. Renting vehicles is only a temporary option. They need cars for their staff and to expand their business,” he said.
Nor have the measures taken so far noticeably reduced congestion.
“In June, some customers brought in to cars into Yangon that were registered in other states and regions. And May was our best-selling month,” said U Soe Htun.
But using a car in Yangon that is registered in Bago, Mandalay or Nay Pyi Taw could give rise to legal problems in the event of an accident, he added. “Those customers can’t get a log book for the vehicle in their own name. Nobody knows when the government will amend the parkingspace provision,” he said.
U Myo Myint Thein of Toyota said customers have been very patient, but some can’t wait any longer.
“They’ve already paid their deposit, but we have about 100 cars that we can’t hand over to customers yet. We’ve asked the regional government to take action on this as a matter of urgency.”
MAMDA and the Ministry of Commerce have recommended three measures to reduce congestion in Yangon, said U Soe Htun.
“The first is to increase car parking. The second is to limit the numbers of cars imported and the third is to get people to replace cars that are 15 or 20 years old with a new one,” he said.
Transportation policy is handled by the Road Transport Administration Department, the Ministry of Industry and the Supervisory Committee for Motor Vehicles.
“I wish these three groups would coordinate more closely together so that importers bring in vehicles on the basis of clear procedures,” said U Soe Htun.
Cars for sale at a showroom in Yangon.