Thursday, September 10, 2015

Flood of Freight Forwarding and Logistics Groups Into Myanmar Continues as 3PL Firm Open New Office

Despite Continuing Political Troubles the Lure of a Developing Market Tempts Another Supply Chain Provider
Shipping News Feature

SWITZERLAND – MYANMAR – Yet another freight forwarding and supply chain group has opened up its own office in Yangon as Panalpina strengthens its ties in a country which it has traditionally traded with via native agencies. The Swiss logistics group believes it is the start of a new era in the former Burma saying its strategic position at the crossroads between India, China and South East Asia, and the start of investment in infrastructure, make it the time to consolidate the 3PL company’s position in the region.

Established in Myanmar’s largest city of Yangon, Panalpina’s new office officially took up operations in mid-August. Panalpina’s team on site is able to handle end-to-end ocean and air freight shipments, both imports and exports, for local and international customers. Thorsten Harenberg, country manager for Panalpina Myanmar commented:

“Panalpina has worked with customers in Myanmar for many years through dedicated agents. We have been grateful for their support, but having our own team on the ground here in Yangon will allow us to work more closely with and better meet the needs of our customers during this exciting time of investment and development.”

Myanmar had been isolated from international trade for decades until 2011, when a new civilian government was elected. As economic sanctions against Myanmar have been eased, international trade has escalated, especially imports. The majority of imported goods come from other Asian countries and Europe. Trade with China is growing, with new direct shipping services having been launched between Shanghai and Yangon.

There is however still the shadow of appalling violence hanging over parts of the country as illustrated by our resident correspondent there in a piece earlier this year. Panalpina is pinning much of its hopes on the development of the port of Dawei, a scheme which has been beset by problems for years. The original port website has now in fact disappeared from the internet. Last month it was announced that work would recommence on the project which stalled two years ago.

Panalpina sees the Dawei project as an attractive multimodal trade corridor between South East Asia and India with links to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, but admits there is a ‘huge demand’ for upgrading infrastructure. For the Swiss group the biggest opportunities for growth are in telecommunications, manufacturing, oil and gas, as well as capital projects. Apart from transport infrastructure, power plants, refineries and gas terminals need to be built. Myanmar has vast offshore natural gas reserves and is rich with oil deposits and other natural resources such as gemstones and minerals.

Stefan Karlen, Panalpina’s regional CEO for Asia Pacific says the new expansion in Myanmar aligns with Panalpina’s strategy of expanding in emerging economies and he sees a land of multiple opportunities whilst Thorsten Harenberg concludes:

“We expect our Energy Solutions team to be heavily involved, as the country develops in the coming years. In the short term, both air and ocean imports will be driving the business. Exports will be limited until the country develops a viable manufacturing industry. Further down the road we also intend to offer value-added logistics services.”

An on the ground view of the current situation in Myanmar can be seen on the site of the Free Burma Rangers, a charity devoted to bringing healthcare to the country.

Photo: Relief supplies being carried in country to displaced citizens by the only practical method.