by Phil Bolton | June 4, 2013
The Coca-Cola Co. has opened a bottling plant in Crystal Springs, Myanmar, its first since it was awarded an investment permit under the country’s new foreign investment law.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who currently chairs Albright Stonebridge Group, joined Muhtar Kent, Coke’s chairman and CEO, at the June 4 inaugural ceremony.
U Myint Swe, chief minister of Yangon Region where Crystal Springs is located in Hmawbi Township, and officers of Pinya Manufacturing Co Ltd., the local Coke bottling partner, also attended.
Coca-Cola became one of the first U.S. companies to be awarded an investment permit after the lifting of sanctions on the Southeast nation last year.
According to a Coke news release, the company plans to invest $200 million in the country over the next five years to increase production capacity, grow logistics including sales and distribution operations and improve marketing and training.
The company also said that it expects to create more than 22,000 jobs across its value chain in the country over the next five years.
Some Coke products already are available in plastic bottles with scripted Myanmar labels and local production of glass contour bottles and aluminum cans is expected in the near future.
In addition, Coke is working with Pact, a non-government organization, through the Coca-Cola Foundation to implement “Swan-Yi,” a three-year program to educate 25,000 women with financial literacy, entrepreneurship and business management.
The European Union ended sanctions against Myanmar with the exception of an arms embargo on June 3, recognizing the country’s transition from military dictatorship to civilian rule during a meeting of its foreign ministers in Luxembourg.
The U.S. lifted most of its sanctions over the past year, permitting companies to invest and allowing imports from Myanmar. The U.S. Treasury Department, however, forbids U.S. citizens from doing business with 100 or so Myanmar citizens considered cronies of the former military regime.