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Economy

Myanmar sends mixed message to foreign investors

Outsiders are welcome in the special economic zone; not so much elsewhere

Many plants are under construction at the Thilawa special economic zone industrial park outside Yangon.

TOKYO -- Myanmar may be courting foreign businesses by asking them to set up shop in its special economic zone, but its broader reforms have disappointed some outside observers.

The Thilawa Special Economic Zone is Myanmar's sole free trade district. It was set up in September 2015 outside Yangon, the country's largest city. Nearly all of the plots at the industrial park have found occupants. Dozens of foreign companies and joint ventures are also building factories in the area, where they enjoy trade and tax preferences.

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