YANGON -- Coca-Cola (IW 1000/94) officially began bottling its eponymous soft drink in Myanmar on Tuesday as it marked a return to the former junta-ruled country with a pledge to invest $200 million and create thousands of jobs.
The company, one of the world's most recognizable brands, re-entered Myanmar last year when it resumed deliveries of its famous drink after a six-decade hiatus.
Inaugurating its first bottling plant in a Yangon suburb, the company said it will spend $200 million over the next five years directly creating 2,500 jobs and more than 20,000 overall across the supply chain.
"We're delighted to be part of this historic occasion as we return to local manufacturing of Coca Cola to this beautiful country after more than 60 years," said Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola chief executive.
Coca-Cola was widely available on the black market throughout the junta era, despite sanctions which have now mostly been lifted in response to democratic reforms.
The bottle factory, opened in April with a local partner, takes the company's global battle for customer loyalty with Pepsi into Myanmar's newly-opened market, with its fierce rival also looking to open a plant inside the country.
Many multinational companies have been hungrily eyeing Myanmar since reforms by President Thein Sein's government began in 2011, thrusting the nation's estimated 60 million population into the consumer age.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013