Myanmar, Sri Lanka to boost bilateral trade, investment

13:45, October 21, 2009      

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Myanmar's biggest business organization of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and diplomats of Sri Lanka have recently met here to seek ways of boosting bilateral trade and investment.

Their discussions focused on tapping potential markets in Sri Lanka for Myanmar agricultural produce, enhancing cooperation between businesses of the two countries and holding trade fair to show their products.

On the sidelines of the Joint Committee of Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) of Myanmar and Sri Lanka in early August, meetings between entrepreneurs of the two countries were held to promote bilateral economic and trade cooperation.

In June this year, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa paid a state visit to Myanmar on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

During the visit, Myanmar and Sri Lanka signed in Nay Pyi Taw an agreement on mutual exemption of visas for diplomatic passport and service passport holders of the two countries and a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in tourism.

Moreover, the Myanmar government made a cash donation of 50,000U.S. dollars as a humanitarian assistance to the Sri Lanka for that country's internally displaced people in the northern part, while Sri Lanka helped establish a village, called Mitta, in Myanmar's cyclone-hit Kungyangon township in Yangon division.

The two countries set up the JCBC in 1996 which met first in July 2007 when Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama visited Myanmar.

Besides, Myanmar and Sri Lanka have recently formed a business relation group in a bid to increase their bilateral trade.

In November last year, Myanmar and Sri Lanka agreed to establish direct air and sea links to effectively boost bilateral trade ties.

Currently, trade between Myanmar and Sri Lanka is transacted through Singapore.

According to the Directorate of Trade under the Ministry of Commerce, Sri Lanka mainly imports forestry products and beans and pulses from Myanmar via brokers in Singapore and the country has expressed interest in also importing Myanmar gems and selling its own products in the Myanmar markets.

Moreover, Myanmar is seeking gem trade with Sri Lanka in a bid to develop its gem industry.

Myanmar and Sri Lanka, which established diplomatic relations on June 7, 1949, have enjoyed cultural and religious ties since the 11th century.

Both Myanmar and Sri Lanka are members of the subregional grouping of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) which also comprises Bangladesh, India and Thailand.

Myanmar remains as an observer of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

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