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Coca-Cola sets sight on Myanmar

By Madison Park, CNN
June 15, 2012 -- Updated 0524 GMT (1324 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Coca-Cola announced plans to do business in Myanmar
  • Myanmar is only one of three countries in the world without Coca-Cola
  • U.S., European Union and others are easing sanctions

(CNN) -- Coca-Cola could be coming to Myanmar soon.

The world's largest beverage company has announced plans to return to the country for the first time in 60 years. Coke has applied for a general license to begin conducting business there, the company stated in a press release.

Myanmar, the once reclusive nation, is one of three countries in the world where Coca-Cola does not do business, according to the company. It does not have a presence in Cuba and North Korea.

Suu Kyi asks people to invest in Myanmar
Sectarian violence testing Myanmar
Myanmar: Open for business and tourism

Myanmar's government is opening up to international investors as it undergoes a series of reforms.

The United States, the European Union and others are easing sanctions, allowing their citizens and businesses to directly invest in Myanmar after the ruling junta returned to civilian rule and allowed free elections. A recent oil and gas conference was held in the city of Yangon to attract potential investors from around the world.

Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the democracy advocate who had been under house arrest for nearly two decades, recently won a seat in the country's legislature. This week, she traveled to Europe for the first time since her detainment to accept the Nobel Peace Prize she was awarded in 1991.

Still, challenges lie ahead for Myanmar. The country's western state has been rocked recently by ethnic violence that prompted a state of emergency.

Coca-Cola, which sells sodas, bottled water, sports drinks as well as juices, described its investments in Myanmar as "significant" over the next three to five years. Initially, the products would be shipped into neighboring countries while local business ties are established. The company's international strategy is to operate as a local business in every market, with selling, distributing and manufacturing taking place locally, Coca-Cola stated in a release.

The company's charity arm also pledged a $3 million grant for women's economic programs in the country.

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