A new treaty was signed in Yangon  on Tuesday (Sept 24) allowing Singapore companies in Myanmar to turn to international arbitration for disputes over investment.

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing and Union Minister for Investment and Foreign Economic Relations U Thaung Tun signed it on the sidelines of the 7th Singapore-Myanmar Joint Ministerial Working Committee Meeting.

The legally-binding treaty sets rules on how Myanmar and Singapore should treat investments and investors of the two countries, said the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).

It also ensures the freedom to transfer capital and returns, compensation rights and non-discriminatory treatment for investors in most sectors, among other things.

The Bilateral Investment Treaty on the Promotion and Protection of Investments between Singapore and Myanmar aims to promote greater investment flows between the two countries by giving investors greater certainty and confidence. 

Mr Chan, in a Facebook post, said its signing marked another milestone in economic ties between the two countries and he expressed hopes it would encourage more Singapore companies to invest in Myanmar.

MTI said in its statement that the treaty’s protections are especially significant as Singapore is Myanmar’s largest foreign investor, with a cumulative investment of US$22.1 billion (about S$30.5 billion) as of last month .

Bilateral trade reached US$3.838 billion in the fiscal year 2017/18, figures from Myanmar’s Ministry of Commerce showed.

During the joint committee meeting yesterday, Myanmar highlighted, the need for the two countries to work more closely to promote trade and investment.

The meeting reviewed the growing economic cooperation in various areas, including in the finance and legal sectors, MTI said.

Officials also discussed ways to deepen collaboration in other sectors such as transport and food as well as in intellectual property, it added.

During his visit to Yangon, Mr Chan also met Yangon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein and Deputy Minister for Finance and Planning U Set Aung. They exchanged views on new developments and discussed ways to further economic cooperation, the MTI said.