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Statement by the Secretary-General

		Statement by the Secretary-General of ASEAN

                                 H.E. Dato' Ajit Singh
                         at the Briefing on Myanmar for the
                     First ASEAN Business Mission to Myanmar
                           Yangon, 11-13 November 1997

Your Excellency, Brig. Gen. D.O. Abel,
Minister for National Planning and Economic Development

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Let me begin by thanking Your Excellency and the Government of the Union 
of Myanmar for receiving
so warmly the first ASEAN Business Mission to Myanmar organised by the 
ASEAN Business Forum
and which I am so privileged to lead. On behalf of the mission, let me 
also say how much we have
appreciated the interest which you have personally taken in ensuring that 
all arrangements are made to
enable the delegation to have a complete and full briefing on all the 
relevant aspects of interest to it. 

2. You have drawn up a very comprehensive programme which includes calls 
on the Minister for
Finance and Revenue and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and briefings by 
the Ministries of Finance,
Commerce, Agriculture and Irrigation, Forestry, Energy, Livestock and 
Fisheries, Hotels and Tourism,
Telecommunications, Post and Telegraph, and also briefings by the Myamnar 
Investment Commission
as well as the Myamnar Industrial Development Committee. Opportunities 
have also been provided for
the mission to interact with the local business community and to visit 
some industrial sites. 

3. All the efforts you have taken are a demonstration of the importance 
your Government attaches to
inviting the private sector to invest in Myanmar. As you have said so 
eloquently at your key-note
address this morning and for which we would like to thank you, Myanmar 
not only welcomes such
investments but would also do all it can to ensure that the investors' 
needs are met. 

4. I consider it important that Myanmar gives a clear signal that it is 
pro-business and is strongly
committed to opening the country to investments from abroad, particularly 
from the ASEAN region.
You have some very good examples to follow by the lead that the other 
ASEAN Members have taken
so successfully in inviting foreign investments into their countries. For 
instance, in 1996, ASEAN was
among the top 15 recipients of FDI among developing countries, recording 
a total of US$28.9 billion. 

5. Although there may be some outside pressures on Myanmar, the interest 
within ASEAN to invest
here remains strong. This is evidenced by the fact that Brunei 
Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the
Philippines, Singapore and Thailand have invested here. ASEAN has, 
accordingly to Myanmar statistics
as of 31 August 1996, invested about US$2 billion, which represented 44% 
of the total FDI in this
country. The fact that the ASEAN Business Forum has organised this 
mlssion at a time when we are
going through troubled times as a result of the currency crisis and the 
fall of the stock markets in our
region, is a further indication that the business sector in ASEAN is 
confident in the future of this counbry
and is keen to look for business opportunities here in order to be a 
partner in your development efforts. 

6. With a size which is only second to Indonesia, a potential market of 
47 million people and richly
endowed with such natural resources as forests, gems, oil and gas, 
Myanmar is well-placed to become
an important destination for investors and businessmen from both within 
and outside ASEAN. In
addition to that, as Myanmar begins to implement the ASEAN Free Trade 
Area agreement early next
year, Myanmar would also be able to exploit the fact it has low tariff 
rates. Out of its total tariff lines of
5,472, 43.1%, (or 2,356 of them), will be in the Indusion List of the 
CEPT Scheme, with about 71.4%
of these having tariffs of 5% or less. Only six tariff lines will carry 
rates of over 20%. This would make
Myammar a very attractive production base for ASEAN and worldwide 

7. Undoubtedly, Myanmar has vast natural and human resources and with the 
right mix of business and
investor-friendly policies, together with attractive incentives, I am 
confident that Myanmar will be a
strong magnet in attracting those who desire to trade and invest bere. 

8. Lastly, I wish to thank the ASEAN Business Forum for its initiative to 
send this mission to Myanmar.
I hope it will be followed by missions to other new markets, such as Laos 
and Vetnam. 

[13 November 1997]