Thailand aims to double bilateral trade with Myanmar

THAILAND and Myanmar will strengthen trade and economic cooperation under a strategic-partnership strategy aimed at doubling bilateral commerce within the next five years.

The two countries’ governments and private sectors will this week sign 15 memoranda of understanding to promote trade, investment and service growth.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak will today lead an official Thai delegation and 22 private companies and organisations on a mission to Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw.

During the trip, he will visit Myanmar President Htin Kyaw and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

Thai Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn, who will also be on the mission,said yesterday that under their closer strategic partnership, Thailand and Myanmar would double bilateral trade to US$13 billion (Bt457 billion) by the end of 2021.

“Thailand and Myanmar will forge closer ties in many areas to strengthen trade and investment growth, while they will also help increase competitiveness for the private sector, especially SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises], and help Myanmar people to trade online,” she said.

The 22 companies on the mission are from a wide range of sectors, such as construction, property development, agro-industry, telecommunication and innovation, infrastructure development, energy, retail, consumer products, finance, services and education.

During the mission, participating companies will sign at least 15 MoUs concerning cooperation between the two sides, covering such fields as energy, medical, media, banking, and the plastics and sugar industries.

Moreover, the Commerce Ministry will join with the Board of Investment of Thailand to set up a Thailand-Myanmar Business Cooperation council in Yangon, which more than 300 businesspeople from both nations will join, Apiradi said.

In a separate matter, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government of Myanmar have agreed to partner up in promoting public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the transportation sector.

The ADB will provide strategic and transaction advisory services to support the Myanmar government’s bid to identify and develop transportation projects through PPPs.

The agreement was signed yesterday at a ceremony in Nay Pyi Taw by Win Khant, permanent secretary at the Transport and Communications Ministry, and Winfried Wicklein, the ADB’s country director for Myanmar.

Thant Sin Maung, Myanmar’s minister of transport and communications, and Ryuichi Kaga, head of the ADB’s Office of Public-Private Partnership, witnessed the signing.

“The improvement of transport infrastructure is a top priority for the government, as this is critical to improving people’s access to markets, as well as to basic services such as health and education,” Thant Sin Maung said.

“A number of our priority transport investments will deliver better results if undertaken in partnership with the private sector.”

Kaga said: “The ADB has been playing a very active role in supporting Myanmar with policy advice on PPPs, and improving Myanmar’s transport infrastructure is critical to achieving inclusive growth in Myanmar.

“PPP is an important instrument in delivering infrastructure, and the ADB is looking forward to assisting the government in developing priority transport projects that could be structured on a PPP basis to mobilise private capital flows.”

As the Transport and Communications Ministry’s mandated strategic and transaction adviser, the ADB will help in screening and prioritising projects, undertaking due diligence, and structuring work with a view to placing these projects in the market for private-sector investment.

Myanmar’s inadequate infrastructure hinders access to markets and social services and compromises the business environment, the ADB said.

With only 40 per cent of the road network paved, and 20 million people – half of the rural population – without access to all-weather roads, weak inland waterways and river ports, high transportation costs, and associated limited access to markets and services are among the main causes of poverty and regional inequality in Myanmar, according to the bank.

Source: The Nation

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