The novel coronavirus outbreak has derailed Myanmar’s move to open its stock market to foreign investors.
Only two of the country’s five listed securities have attracted international traders since rules were relaxed on March 20, leaving their foreign-shareholding ratios at minimal levels. Officials had hoped to attract funds from both expatriates and non-resident foreigners.
“After two trading days when we allowed foreigners to participate on the exchange, the outbreak began in Myanmar, so the majority of expatriates rushed home,” Thet Htun Oo, executive senior manager at the Yangon Stock Exchange, said in an interview Friday.
The disease has hampered other efforts to develop the four-year-old bourse, which has struggled to gain traction in part because of complex bureaucracy. Ever Flow River Group Pcl, a logistics provider, was due to become the sixth exchange-traded company last month but delayed its listing.
The exchange was aiming to expand to at least eight listed companies by the end of 2020 and boost trading volumes in the process, but Thet Htun Oo said these goals will be harder to achieve.
First Myanmar Investment Pcl and Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings Pcl attracted only a handful of trades involving international investors since March 20. The Myanpix index is down about 4% this year, and the virus outbreak threatens to extend a pattern of declining trading volumes.