Myanmar, Czech chambers ink pact to boost ties

BUSINESSES from the Czech Republic are keen to explore opportunities for cooperation with potential partners in Myanmar, with their interest stoked by the recent visit of state leader Aung San SuuKyi to the Central European country, a Myanmar business chief said.

Zaw Min Win, president of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), who accompanied State CounsellorSuuKyi on her trip, said both sides gained from productive meetings.

“The Czech Republic is really worth visiting. During this trip, we had fruitful discussions with senior officials and Czech businesses,” he said in a phone interview while in Prague.

“We strongly believe this trip benefits Myanmar businesses and the country as a whole, as both sides are keen to revitalise and expedite development of the former investment and trade ties that existed between the two countries in 1960s and 1970s.”

Zaw Min Win was referring to the long-standing bilateral ties that had been established more than six decades ago. The nations began diplomatic relations in 1956, with the embassy of the then Czechoslovakia opened in Yangon. An embassy under the name of Burma was opened in Prague in 1965.

Before the emergence of independent Czech and Slovak republics, the Czechoslovak embassy came to an end in Yangon in December 1992, and Myanmar closed its embassy in Prague one day later. For a period, the Czech ambassador in Bangkok was concurrently accredited to Myanmar and the Myanmar ambassador in Berlin was similarly accredited to Prague. That was until the Czech Republic reopened its embassy in Yangon in 2014. During SuuKyi’s recent trip, the new Myanmar embassy was inaugurated in Prague by the leaders of both nations.

With the reopening of the Myanmar embassy, Zaw Min Win foresees a surge in foreign direct investment from Czech Republic and a substantial increase in bilateral trade over the next few years.

He said the UMFCCI had active discussions with the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic, which has 11,000 members and 30 associations under its umbrella, as well as representatives of other chambers.

“During this trip, we managed to sign a memorandum of understanding with some of them to foster cooperation. We had fruitful and prospective discussions with them on several possible areas of mutual interests for trade and investment,” he said.

He said Myanmar would strive to seek opportunities and expand the room for cooperation, as Czech businesses are searching for some new markets to boost their businesses.

“As a national-level federated chamber of commerce representing Myanmar’s private sector, we have to follow suit led by the public sector. That means B2B [business to business] cooperation will support the development of G2G [government to government] functions,” he said.

Zaw Min Win and some Myanmar business people were also present at the Czech-Myanmar Business Forum in Prague on June 4.

“At the forum, our State Counsellor encouraged Czech entrepreneurs to invest in Myanmar because we have great potential in several sectors as Asia’s final frontier,” he said.

“Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis told our delegation that Myanmar is a very interesting market with abundant opportunities in the fields where Czech companies could stand out, including energy, aviation, automotive, agro and food industry or health. He also encouraged Czech businesses to seize these opportunities.”

Zaw Min Win said the UMFCCI is eager to conduct follow-up business meetings to unlock the huge potential for strengthening bilateral economic ties.

“It is really encouraging to hear positive moves from top leaders of both countries. We will proceed to expedite further negotiations in turn them into reality to ensure G2G and B2B business deals,” he said.

During the trip, SuuKyi and the Czech prime minister discussed promoting bilateral trade, investment and economic cooperation. They also discussed increasing the interactions between the people of both countries, finding possibilities for implementing direct flights between Myanmar and the Czech Republic, promoting the global tourism industry, increasing cooperation on education, healthcare and culture, and further state visits between the high-level figures of the two countries. SuuKyi invited Babis to visit Myanmar, according to the State Counsellor Office.

Source: Eleven Myanmar

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