U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker celebrated the growing commercial relationship between the United States and Burma on Friday, as part of her week-long commercial diplomacy mission to the ASEAN region.
Since President Obama visited Burma in 2012, the country has undertaken reforms to improve its business climate. Two years ago, the United States began allowing investment in Burma for the first time in 15 years, and shortly thereafter, Burma’s President signed a law to help attract more foreign commercial engagement. As a result U.S. foreign direct investment in Burma has now reached $250 million.
The U.S. government is encouraging American companies to evaluate growing mutually-beneficial opportunities in Burma, because responsible investment by U.S. firms can help facilitate broad-based economic growth and prosperity for the country’s people. American companies and products are among the finest in the world, and when U.S. businesses make investments, they bring with them the highest standards, including a commitment to corporate and social responsibility.
As a way to build on the growing trade and investment relationship between the U.S. and Burma, Secretary Pritzker formally announced that the U.S. Department of Commerce will soon open its first-ever Foreign Commercial Service office in the country, to be headquartered in Rangoon. Foreign Commercial Service offices, which are located in U.S. embassies all over the world, help American companies enter overseas markets so they can expand their operations and find new customers.
During her visit, Secretary Pritzker also highlighted the contributions that U.S. firms are already making in Burma.
- Gap – a very well-known American apparel company – recently announced that it is partnering with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide job skills training to women in Burma, empowering them to play a greater role in the workplace and in their communities. In areas around the country, Gap will launch a women’s empowerment program that will provide up to 80 hours of professional skills training.
- This February, APR Energy signed a contract for a large-scale project that will assist the Myanmar Electric Power Enterprise with power generation. The APR Energy plant will be one of the largest thermal plants in the country, and will provide power to more than 6 million people, or roughly 10 percent of the population. APR Energy’s commitment to providing power solutions is critical, particularly as 75 percent of the country’s population lacks access to electricity.
- Ball Corporation recently announced that it plans to build an aluminum can factory just outside Yangon. This U.S. investment will supply cans to both local and international beverage companies and create jobs in Burma.
- Coca-Cola is another U.S. firm increasing its engagement in Burma. The company re-opened operations in Burma in 2012, began manufacturing locally one year ago, and has already committed to buy more than half of the cans produced at Ball Corporation's newly announced facility.