Myanmar businessmen speak highly of China-ASEAN FTA establishment

13:05, December 31, 2009      

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Myanmar business circle has spoken highly of the establishment of China-ASEAN free trade area (FTA) as scheduled, saying that the establishment helps push the development of economic and trade cooperative ties between Myanmar and China.

Members from the business circle made the comments in an interview with Xinhua ahead of the launching of the FTA on Jan. 1, 2010.

Starting 2010, both the building of ASEAN Community and China-ASEAN FTA will enter into a new stage. Therefore, Myanmar, like other new members of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), will face a new and greater challenge and new development opportunity, experts said.

U Khin Maung Lwin, a Myanmar expert studying FTA, said despite the establishment of the China-ASEAN FTA in 2010, Myanmar enjoys a five-year grace period like other ASEAN new members and is allowed to meet the FTA demand until 2015, leaving a period of time and space for the country to deal with.

Experts here said under the framework of the FTA, Myanmar possesses an advantage of having rich natural resources such as land, water and mineral resources, while its disadvantage is the lack of capital and technical know-how and then a long period of exporting primary products with less process and low added-value. The country has now attached importance to such processed and value-added export, while welcoming foreign investment in the aspect.

Chairman of Myanmar Chinese Chamber of Commerce Lai Songshen pointed out that the establishment of China-ASEAN FTA has positive significance over Myanmar's economic and trade development, saying that Myanmar's integration into the regional development process could enable faster and better development of its economy and trade.

"It naturally helps develop Myanmar and it also provides more development opportunities for local businessmen," he believed.

MIDEA-brand products distributor Liang Xiao Chun, who has been doing trading business in Myanmar for over four years, said their products -- MIDEA are widely welcome in the country. Previously, Myanmar consumers misunderstood that the quality of Chinese products are not as good as that of other countries.

Over the past few years, consumers have come to know that there are good products of China with reasonable prices, he said, believing that following the establishment of China-ASEAN FTA, China will introduce more and better products into Myanmar market and Myanmar people could get cheaper and better products of Chinese brand. On the other hand, more Myanmar products will go into China's market.

Liang went on to say that "as far as our businessmen are concerned, the setting up of China-ASEAN FTA is a biggest blessing news for us. We have been long waiting for the day to come. If successful in the establishment, the tariff of our products will be sharply reduced even down to zero. By then, our products and the flow of our commodities will be expedited. We hope that the tariff will be reduced or exempted or zero. Besides we also hope the custom clearance process will be prompted."

Liang also briefed that many popular-brand Chinese products have entered into Myanmar market, for instances, electronic-goods-related MIDEA, TCL and Changhong, and communication-related Huawei, ZTE, Hisense.

Another local Chinese businessman Gao Jinchuan said "My family has long been engaged in China-Myanmar border trade. If the China-ASEAN FTA is launched, it would play a greater part in the Sino-Myanmar border trade. The lowering of tariff would undoubtedly push the trade development. As China and Myanmar are linked by mountains and rivers, Myanmar could play its part as bridge link and speaking from this point of significance, we see prospects of Sino-Myanmar economic and trade ties."

Other experts also viewed that the successful holding of the 9th China-Myanmar border trade fair in China's Jiegao, Ruili from Dec. 2 to 6, 2009, clarified again that traders increasingly attach importance to the platform of the border trade fair.

The border trade fair was participated by entrepreneurs and investors from Myanmar, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh and more than 10 provinces, municipalities and cities of China such as Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Fujian, Shenzheng, Shandong and Chongqing, as well as Hong Kong Special Administrative Regions.

Vice governor of Yunnan Province Gu Caoxi said at the opening ceremony of the border trade fair that the event won attention of entrepreneurs and commerce circle at home and abroad and their active participation, underlining that it contributes to emergence of the economic and social benefit.

Gu also said when meeting with Myanmar Deputy Commerce Minister Brigadier-General Aung Tun that the overall establishment of 2010 China-ASEAN FTA would provide new opportunities to the economic and trade cooperation between Yunnan and Myanmar as well as between China and Myanmar, holding that the two sides should take advantage of the FTA to expand the economic and trade cooperation between China and Myanmar.

Source: Xinhua
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