August 17, 2017
On August 14, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed a loan agreement with Myanmar Japan Thilawa Development Ltd. (MJTD), which develops and operates the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ), for Zone B, Phase 1 (approximately 100 hectares), which is the second stage of development after Zone A. The agreement will promote investment and employment in Myanmar and is expected to contribute to further socioeconomic development.
Since being established in October 2013, the MJTD has developed the Zone A area (approximately 400 hectares) in the Thilawa SEZ , and it commenced operation in September 2015. As of the end of July 2017, 79 companies (39 of which are Japanese) from 17 countries and regions around the world have decided to invest in Thilawa SEZ Zone A, greatly exceeding the initial projection, and 34 companies have already begun operation. With development and operations steadily progressing in Zone A, the relevant stakeholders agreed  in October 2016 to extend the development of Zone B, Phase 1. Construction of Zone B began in February 2017 and is currently in progress with the target of commencing operations around the middle of 2018. Through financing to the MJTD, JICA will support development, sales and operations for Zone B, Phase 1 with the needed funding.
Since the transfer of power to civilian control in March 2011, democratization and the transition to a market economy have moved at a rapid pace in Myanmar. With a focus on encouraging foreign direct investment while creating employment and improving the national income, the Government of Myanmar enacted the revised Special Economic Zone Law in January 2014 and has taken other measures to revise legislation pertaining to investment and promote SEZ development. The new administration formed by the National League for Democracy after being elected in the November 2015 general election has also set out employment creation as a priority policy target. From this perspective, the Thilawa SEZ has been strongly promoted by the Government of Myanmar, given its advantageous access to an abundant labor force and markets in Greater Yangon.
In addition to support to the MJTD for Thilawa SEZ development, JICA and the Government of Japan have, through technical cooperation, Japanese ODA loans and grant aid, extended support for infrastructure development such as electricity, water, telecom, roads, bridges, and ports in the surrounding area. JICA has also provided technical assistance to the Thilawa SEZ Management Committee and the One Stop Service Center for efficient SEZ operation, and to the Government of Myanmar for appropriate land acquisition and resettlement and income restoration program that meets international standards. In addition, JICA and the Government of Japan have supported a stronger legal framework related to SEZ development, including the formulation of the revised Special Economic Zone Law and accompanying regulations. JICA is committed to continuing making contributions to socioeconomic development in Myanmar through comprehensive measures, such as the Thilawa SEZ initiatve, to build up the investment climate and create employment opportunities.
1: April 4, 2014, press release on the decision by JICA to provide equity participation in the MJTD
2: October 21, 2016, press release on the decision by the MJTD parties to develop Zone B, Phase 1