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US Businesses: Myanmar Investment Challenges Persist

FILE - Workers are seen among the containers at Asia World port in Yangon, July 2, 2014. During a recent conference, American and Myanmar businesses exchanged views on how to develop economic ties between the two nations despite challenges in the financial sector and poor infrastructure.

U.S. businesses say American firms continue to faces challenges investing in Myanmar despite Washington’s easing of most sanctions.

During a conference in Yangon entitled, "U.S. Myanmar Commercial Relations: The Next Phase," American and Myanmar businesses exchanged views on how to develop economic ties between the two nations.

John Goyer, Southeast Asia Senior Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told VOA Burmese that challenges in the financial sector as well as poor infrastructure obstruct American businesses from entering Myanmar.

"There's a number of challenges that U.S. companies are taking into account," he said. "There's limitations and general underdevelopment of the financial sector; [inadequate] access to electricity; challenges in terms of human resources and finding sufficient numbers of capable people for managerial or technical roles — or, you know, more mundane things like expensive offices and office-leasing costs, as well as getting goods through customs."

However, Scot Marciel, U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar — also known as Burma — told the conference that Washington will continue supporting the Southeast Asian country's economic development, particularly through USAID.

"On the economic side, we're already providing significant, tangible assistance to economic reform and development efforts here," he said, adding that U.S. companies recognize the country's investment potential. "USAID is working closely with the private sector, civil society and key ministries — including the ministry of commerce — to improve the environment for investment in business."

Monday's conference also focused on development needs in technology, finance, agriculture and energy.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Burmese Service.