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Singapore and Myanmar agreement

	S'pore Telecom keen to invest there 

	(By Douglas Wong) 

SINGAPORE and Myanmar agreed yesterday to broaden their economic 
links from     an initial focus on tourism and agro-business into the areas of 
telecommunications and     education. 

"With both countries now belonging to the Asean family, there will 
be even more     opportunities for interaction and cooperation," Trade and 
Industry Minister Lee Yock     Suan said at the second meeting of a joint 
ministerial committee on trade and     investment ties. 

The committee agreed to extend Singapore's training of Myanmar 
officials to the     telecommunications field, and also to look into a Myanmar
proposal for the Yangon     Institute of Technology to collaborate with the 
Nanyang Technological University. 

Mr Lee added that Singapore Telecom is keen to invest in Myanmar if 
and when it     opens its telecommunications sector. 

Singapore is Myanmar's largest trading partner -- two-way trade hit 
$1.3 billion last     year -- and is also the second largest foreign investor 
in Myanmar after Britain, with 55     projects worth US$1.2 billion. The 
minister and his committee co-chairman,     Myanmar's Lieutenant-Gen 
Khin Nyunt, also witnessed the signing of a maritime     transport agreement 
and a cooperation agreement between the business chambers. 

Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt, First Secretary of Myanmar's ruling State Law and 
Restoration     Council (Slorc), said in his comments that his country 
considered itself fortunate to     have good and supportive friends like 
Singapore now, when it is on the verge of     economic take-off. 

He also said that Myanmar's new market-oriented policies along with 
unprecedented     peace and stability, have allowed the country to focus on 
its economy. 

Myanmar, he said, 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. 

The general had called on Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and Deputy 
Prime Minister     Lee Hsien Loong on Friday, and said he was "deeply heartened 
by their kind words of     support and encouragement". 

Officials said he had a candid discussion with Mr Goh during their 
half-hour meeting.     No details of the meeting were given. 

In his speech, Mr Lee Yock Suan urged Myanmar to create an 
attractive and stable     environment for investment, noting that its tight 
foreign exchange controls and shortage     of hard currency had caused problems 
for foreign investors. 

He said: "At this 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 
global     marketplace." 

He said 1994 was a turning point in terms of enhanced cooperation 
between the two     countries. 

"Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong visited Myanmar in March 1994 and 
agreed with     Senior Gen Than Shwe to foster even closer bilateral 
co-operation," he said. 

"The Agreement on Bilateral Economic Cooperation was signed in June 
1995 and the     inaugural joint ministerial working committee meeting was 
held in Myanmar in January     1996." 

"That first meeting decided on several initiatives in agro-business, 
tourism, human     resource training and other areas." 

Lt-Gen Khin Nyunt and his 20-strong delegation, including the Minister 
of  Hotels and Tourism, Lt-Gen Kyaw Ba, and the Minister of National Planning 
and Economic Development, Brig-Gen David Abel, met about 60 Singapore 
businessmen at a lunch following the meeting. 

Singapore has already trained more than 300 Myanmar officials in 
areas like tourism,     agro-business, port and airport management. 

Next month will see the opening of a joint test centre in Yangon to 
improve poultry     breeds as well as the marketing of joint Singapore-Myanmar
tour packages through a     German travel wholesaler. 

	[Straits Times, 6 October 1997].


        News and Information Dept.
        All Burma Students' Democratic Organisation (ABSDO) [Australia]
        Tel/Fax: 61+03+98132613