Cosmetics association sees uncertain future
The Myanmar Cosmetics Association is demanding the government protect the industry from foreign competition, which it says could destroy small and medium-sized local firms.
The Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) provides a list of industries that foreign-owned firms can invest in, as well as those that require a joint venture with a local operator and those that are completely off-limits.
The cosmetics sector is not mentioned anywhere on that list, said U Kyaw Min, chair of the Myanmar Cosmetics Association (MCA).
That means foreign firms, by default, are allowed to enter the Myanmar market, which could put local firms out of business, he said.
“We know Myanmar needs foreign investment and we welcome it in the cosmetics sector because it helps business grow,” he said. “But we want there to be joint ventures. Industry operators will not put up with 100pc owned foreign companies.”
The MCA made its request to the MIC in June, but has yet to receive a response, he added.
U Aye Lwin, a member of the MIC, said omissions on the MIC notification list are a result of intrinsic problems in the law-making process.
Myanmar laws are not watertight, not enough time is taken to consider all the issues and some lawmakers are not businesspeople, he said.
If a sector is not covered by the list, it does allow wholly foreign-owned companies to enter that market, but U Aye Lwin said he would raise the issue for the cosmetics industry.
“I’ll discuss this problem in [MIC] meetings and try my best,” he said.
The MIC issues notifications updating the list of sectors and the level of foreign investment permitted. The last update was in March this year.
The MCA was formed in August 2015 in order to address issues with government policy at the industrywide level, according to vice chair U Win Naing.