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Singapore Urges SLORC to Give Basic
- Subject: Singapore Urges SLORC to Give Basic
- From: RANGOONP@xxxxxxx
- Date: Sat, 04 Oct 1997 04:08:00
By Ramthan Hussain
SINGAPORE, Oct 4 (Reuter) - Singapore on Saturday called for adequate
transparency and protection for investments in Burma and cited the shortage
of hard currency and tight exchange controls as difficulties faced by
``As Myanmar (Burma) has recently opened its economy to the outside world, it
is inevitable that there are difficulties along the way to economic growth
and stability,'' said Lee Yock Suan, Singapore's Trade and Industry Minister.
``At this early stage of Myanmar's development it is vital to get the basics
right. It is not easy to open up to the outside world and compete on the
Lee was speaking at the second Singapore-Burma joint ministerial working
committee meeting, which will explore new areas such as transport,
telecommunications and trade, and review cooperation in tourism,
agro-business and training.
At the meeting, the two sides signed a maritime transport agreement and their
chambers of commerce sealed a memorandum of understanding to allow the
private sector to enhance their investments.
``This is the first bilateral Maritime Transport agreement for Myanmar. It
will usher in a new era of co-operation between Singapore and Myanmar in
bilateral shipping and maritime relations,'' the two countries said in a
The agreement would also help related activities such as trucking,
warehousing and container freight stations, it said.
Singapore is Burma's largest trading partner. Last year trade more than
doubled to Singapore $1.31 billion (US$850.64 million) from S$615.9 million
in 1991, according to Singapore's Trade Development Board (TDB).
Total trade between the two countries during the first eight months of this
year grew to S$854 million.
Singapore is the second biggest investor in Burma after Britain, with
investments totaling US$1.3 billion in 55 projects from about $600 million in
1995, the TDB said.
``Not surprisingly the shortage of hard currency and the tight foreign
exchange controls have caused some difficulties among investors who are more
used to a mature and open economic environment,'' Lee said.
``Nevertheless, Myanmar has much to offer and businessmen are prepared to
adapt to the local environment if there is adequate transparency and
protection for their investment.''
He said it is in Burma's interest to create as attractive and stable an
environment as possible for economic development as competition for foreign
investments is very intense.
Burma has been under intense international pressure, especially from the
United States, which imposed economic sanctions in April because of concerns
over human rights.
But Singapore is a strong proponent of constructive engagement with Burma,
which along with Laos was admitted to the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN) in July.
ASEAN also includes Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore,
Thailand and Vietnam.
The head of Burma's delegation, Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt, the powerful
Secretary One of the military-run State Law and Order Restoration Council,
said new market-oriented policies along with unprecedented peace and
stability, has allowed Burma to focus on developing the economy.
He said Burma lagged behind because too many resources had been diverted to
fighting armed rebellions. But apart from one armed group, all other
insurgent groups have returned to the legal fold, he said.