Small Thai firms struggle in Myanmar

Small Thai firms struggle in Myanmar

Labour shortage and cash flow squeeze could bring closure for many, says business council

Protesters prepare to release red balloons during a demonstration against the military regime in Yangon on Wednesday. (Reuters photo)
Protesters prepare to release red balloons during a demonstration against the military regime in Yangon on Wednesday. (Reuters photo)

More than 100 small Thai companies investing in Myanmar have been hit hard by political turmoil and could face closure within six months, says the chairman of the Thai-Myanmar Business Council.

Kich Aungvitulsatit said the firms were facing acute shortages of labour and cash flow as growing protests against the military regime are taking their toll on business operations.

Workers and civil servants alike have been participating by the thousands in civil disobedience campaigns and strikes since the military coup on Feb 1.

The resulting labour shortages and constrained cash flow could force some of the Thai companies to close if the situation does not improve, Mr Kich said on Friday.

The council has sought help from the Commerce Ministry.

Thailand is the sixth largest foreign investor in Myanmar, according to the International Trade Promotion Department at the ministry.

Data from the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration in Myanmar showed that in the five years to December 2020, it had approved foreign direct investment (FDI) projects worth a total of US$935 million from Thailand. It showed the top five FDI contributors in the country are Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Japan.

The World Bank said on Friday that Myanmar’s economy is expected to contract by 10% this year as the country is convulsed by nationwide protests and strikes, while growing sanctions from other nations will start to have an impact.

The forecast is a sharp reversal from the World Bank’s previous economic update in October, when it predicted the country’s economy would grow by 5.9%, one of the strongest rates of expansion in the region.

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