Dr. Myo Thet
Birth: 16 December 1954
Source of wealth: Shwe Pyi Aye
Address: 14-02, 15-07 Sakura Tower, Sule Pagoda Rd, YANGON
Business: Trading, Hotel and Tourism, Food Industry
Dr. Myo Thet, chairman of Shwe Pyi Aye, currently serving as a vice-president of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) and as Myanmar trade representative. He has business interests in the foodstuff industry and hotel and tourism industry.
“Current Myanmar economy has a long way to go. However, we are rich in natural resources and human resources. So, it’d be great to have more foreign investments.”
Dr. Myo Thet was born in Bago, to a rice trader family. He earned his DVM Degree in 1978 and started his own animal clinic. He also helped his parents with their rice trade. Although their rice trade was very successful, it was confiscated when Myanmar economy changed to a socialist economy system in 1962. When Myanmar changed to a market economy system in 1989, Dr.Myo Thet’s family started Shwe Pyi Aye.
Gem mining and wood export were very popular industries in the 1990s. Shwe Pyi Aye, like many other local companies, started their business in the forestry sector and expanded into other sectors later. Initially, wood production was exclusively operated by Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE). Later, private companies were permitted as the market demand became very large. Dr.Myo Thet’s brother studied forestry in England and later served as the Managing Director of Shwe Pyi Aye. In the meantime, Dr. Myo Thet served as production director and the company grew into a leading wood exporter. In 1993, the company formed a business partnership with a Japanese wooden products manufacturing company and established Shwe Kyel wood refining factory. After his brother passed away, Dr. Myo Thet became the Managing Director of Shwe Pyi Aye.
When the government announced initiatives to support tourism in 1996, Shwe Pyi Aye started hotel and tourism as their second business. He won the Moe Yun Gyi Lake auction, the third largest ramsar site in Myanmar. He opened Moe Yun Gyi Resort, located approximately two hours’ drive from Yangon. Although his main business was wood production, he took part in the auction with the purpose of doing business to support environmental conservation.
Moe Yun Gyi Lake is 40 square miles wide and situated near Bago, Bago Region. It is famous for bird watching and natural sightseeing. Over 180 species of wetland habitant birds live in Moe Yun Gyi lake and over 70 species of migratory birds can be seen. Through eco-tourism, Dr.Myo Thet creates lots of job opportunities for locals, provides environmental management and environmental awareness education and chemical-free agriculture (organic agriculture) around Moe Yun Gyi Lake. He has future plans to build hotels together with international companies, featuring different cultural themes and international-standard shopping malls. With more than 35 years’ experience in Myanmar’s wood production sector, Dr.Myo Thet currently serves as the President of Environmental Conservation and Natural Resources Development Committee, and his company is also active in CSR concerning urban area development.
In the wood export industry, Shwe Pyi Aye reached a peak in the 2000s. Although wood export was very profitable, trees had been logged on a massive scale. The rapid deforestation was among the reasons for sanctions placed on Myanmar wood production companies. Due to wood export sanctions in 2007, Shwe Pyi Aye faced losses and ceased wood exports in 2010. Since then, the company has been distributing wooden products across Myanmar. The export of refined wooden products is currently not much developed, so the companies are relying on local markets. Logging for timber is banned in Myanmar from 2016 to 2026; similarly, general cutting of trees has also been limited, to control deforestation.
Dr. Myo Thet joined the Myanmar Timber Merchants Association in 2002 to focus on the development of local forestry sector. He was elected as the central executive committee as soon as he joined the association and worked his way up to become the Secretary General by 2013. He also served as the Secretary General of the Union of Myanmar Federation Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) from 2011 to 2013 and as member of the ASEAN Furniture Industrial Council. Dr. Myo Thet was elected as a vice-president of UMFCCI for 2013-2016 and 2016- 2019, meeting often with company representatives after democratization around 2013 encouraged foreign companies to take more interest in Myanmar. As spokesperson of UMFCCI, Dr. Myo Thet routinely travels abroad to discuss trading and managing his company’s businesses.
During his time as the Secretary General, he supported the founding of the Myanmar-Japan Center for Human Resource Development. He is deeply committed to improving the human resources of his native country. Drawing on his experiences with companies from Japan, he manages Shwe Pyi Aye with an international standard human resource management system.
In 2014, he diversified into the food industry with the founding of Thabarwa Food Industries. The company distributes Myanmar’s famous “Thabarwa Potato Chip” to the capitals of Myanmar. In November 2017, Dr.Myo Thet was selected as the Myanmar trade representative of Taiwan based Myanmar Trading Office and PCF Thailand.