Mon State a sweet spot for maritime trade, tourism: Picon-Deed

mon_2 A motorbike taxi passes in front of the Strand Hotel in Mawlamyine, Mon State. Photo - EPA

27 Jan 20 - Source: Myanmar Times - Maritime trade and tourism in Mon State can level up with better transport and power supply, according to a property market report.

Yangon-based Picon-Deed Property Consultants released its study this month on Myanmar's southern state highlighting how its mineral and natural resources, booming tourism industry and geographical location can capture investments and regional trade.

Mawlamyine, the state capital, and Kyaikhtiyo, commonly known as the Golden Rock, are popular tourist destinations, attracting a growing number of local and foreign visitors, the report said.

"Kyaikhtiyo is the star attraction but Mawlamyine, with its striking riverfront boulevard and diverse downtown area, was not far behind," said Picon-Deed executive director Tony Picon.

Stuart Deed, co-executive director, added that "it's a fairly easy 3.5-hour drive from Yangon to the Golden Rock and then only a few more hours to Mawlamyine."

The fourth most populous city in Myanmar, Mawlamyine is home to the 72-room Hotel Suggati, which opened at the end of 2018. The waterfront five-storey hotel is owned by Singapore-listed Memories Group, and provides conference rooms, working spaces, a fitness centre and a restaurant.

The Golden Rock is very popular with domestic travellers, especially during the cooler months of December and January. But there is still a lot of room for growth. Mr Deed noted that the areas surrounding Mount Kyaikhtiyo is an ideal location for eco resorts and is comparatively underserved at present.

Mr Picon said Mawlamyine needs to establish a reliable electricity supply in order to become a hub for value-adding activities to a wide variety of commodities. The state has large plantations of rubber along the Yangon-Mawlamyine Highway but gas-fired power stations have potential for scale up.

Located in the southern coastline of Myanmar, Mon State is home to a majority of Mon ethnic people, followed by Bamar, Kayin, and Pa-O. The state primarily produces rubber which makes up nearly half of the nation's total rubber production, according to data from Mon agriculture ministry.

The New Mon State Party (NMSP), a Mon ethnic armed group, signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement in 2018. But, NMSP and Tatmadaw (Myanmar's military) clashed for the first time last November. since the ceasefire. There were no casualties, NMSP reported.

Mr Picon suggested a deep-sea port at either Kalargok, located near the coastline, in Mon State or Dawei in Tanintharyi Region, because Mawlamyine's river ports will not be sufficient to handle the current containerised vessels.

As Mon State is close to its ASEAN neighbours, namely the Mekong Subregion countries, it has the geographical qualities to grow into a maritime centre. The state is close to the East-West Economic Corridor, a Greater Mekong Subregion economic initiative launched in 1998 to integrate the five ASEAN countries - Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos - and the Southern Corridor, another economic approach adopted by the Mekong Subregion countries, excluding Laos.

The report also noted that Mawlamyine's residents have strong spending power – ranking behind Myanmar's three major cities (Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon, Mandalay) – and a strong local economy.

"A number of retail centres can already be found in Mawlamyine compared to other second tier cities and from visiting them they certainly are very busy," Mr Picon explained.

The state government held an investment fair last December to attract foreign and local businesses to invest in agriculture, fisheries, tourism, trade and logistics, manufacturing and infrastructure sectors.

"The location of Mon State means there is strong potential to leverage on the trade channels with Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand," said Chief Minister U Aye Zan during the fair.

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