June 20, 2014 4:31 am JST

Microsoft, GE hustling to plug into Myanmar's growth

MOTOKAZU MATSUI, Nikkei staff writer

YANGON -- Major American corporations are moving to speed their entry into the budding economy of Myanmar now that the U.S. has eased sanctions on this formerly military-ruled Southeast Asian nation.

     Microsoft has teamed up with Myanma Computer Company to provide information technology training for young people here. The duo will offer a training program for local college students and others in three cities, including commercial hub Yangon and the capital, Naypyitaw, over the next three years. In collaboration with MCC, the American software behemoth aims to train upwards of 100,000 young engineers in cloud computing and related technologies.

     Microsoft began marketing its products in Myanmar last year under its first agency agreement with a local business. The country has many science- and engineering-oriented colleges, and pay for professionals is low, making it a potential site for offshore development.

     General Electric will hammer out a power infrastructure improvement plan by autumn, working with the Energy Ministry and others. Only about 30% of Myanmar's households have electricity, creating an urgent need to expand generation capacity. GE intends to contribute $7 million to support infrastructure improvement efforts. A group consulting company will also help train personnel at local power utilities.

     GE already sells small and midsize diesel generators here. The company aims to win orders for building large power generation stations and for power distribution cable installation jobs.

     Gap has announced plans to manufacture clothing in Myanmar under an outsourcing deal. Products may be exported to the U.S. later this year. And beverage container producer Ball is slated to open a factory here as early as next year.