Soft drinks giant PepsiCo (IW 50/22) said Thursday it had reached a deal with distributor Diamond Star to sell some of its brands in Myanmar, as international firms race to invest in the former pariah state.

The agreement gives Diamond Star -- one of the largest consumer-packaged-goods distributors in the country formerly known as Burma -- exclusive rights to import, sell and distribute sodas Pepsi-Cola, 7-Up and Mirinda.

PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi said Myanmar's market has great potential.

"PepsiCo has a strong and growing business ... and we are constantly looking for new growth opportunities that will put our food and beverage brands in the hands of more consumers," Nooyi said.

PepsiCo also said it planned to explore opportunities to invest in agriculture and local manufacturing operations in Myanmar.

The firm said it had last done business in Myanmar in 1997.

Since a quasi-civilian government replaced Myanmar's junta last year, the country has embarked on democratic reforms and released hundreds of political prisoners, among them opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

In turn, foreign powers have begun to lift some of the economic sanctions that had been imposed on the potentially oil rich southeast Asian nation, prompting a stampede of international investors to seek new deals there.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012