In what was once considered as one of the few bright spots in the beer industry, Myanmar has now become a landmine for beer players due to the ongoing protests and global condemnation against the military coup.
Japan’s Kirin Holdings has ended its joint-venture partnership in February with the Myanmar Economic Holdings Pcl (MEHL) which has close relationship with the military. This certainly translates to substantial loss for Kirin which has anticipated good growth from this emerging market.
Prior to the coup, Kirin controls about 80% of the Myanmar beer market via 2 joint ventures with MEHL, a conglomerate controlled by the military and believed to be overseen by Gen Min Aung Hlaing, head of the army. Kirin has faced repeated criticism over this investment in the past. It was also discovered that its subsidiary, Myanmar Brewery had made donations to the government during the 2017 Rohingya genocide.
Phil Robertson, a Burmese expert at Human Rights Watch, welcomed Kirin’s withdrawal, saying he hoped other foreign investors will follow suit. It makes one wonder when Myanmar will revert back to being fit for foreign investments. It probably depends on when the military will give up their rule in Myanmar.