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Negative factors may hit Burma bid


Negative factors may hit Burma bid 

The Nation 

BURMA might fail in its attempt to stimulate economic growth through its
dependency on cooperation from Asean countries because of the region-wide
economic slump and a growing concern over its human rights record. 

A report from Thai Farmers Research Centre showed that investments in
tourism and hotels which have been bullish in the past four years, have
recently stalled even though the Burmese government tried to boost its
economy by promoting Burmese tourism this past year. The increasing
pressure from human rights groups in Western nations has caused several
potential investors to shy away from the country. 

The Burmese government then sought closer cooperation from Asean
countries. Unfortunately, Thailand and several Asean countries are facing
economic slumps and are unlikely to make new investments for some years. 

Although the trade volume between Thailand and Burma fell to second place
after the volume between Thailand and Vietnam, this year's trade figures
remain in good shape. 

The research found the trade volume between Thailand and Burma for the
first three quarters of this year was worth more than Bt10 billion, while
trade between Thailand and Vietnam amounted to Bt14 billion during the
same period. 

Thailand's exports to Burma for the first nine months of this year rose
by 45 per cent and raised hopes for an improvement in Thailand's total
exports, said Thai Farmers Research Centre Co Ltd (TFRC). 

According to the TFRC findings publicised in Nov 18, Thailand enjoyed a
Bt6.4 billion trade surplus with Burma this year, marking the fifth
consecutive year of a trade advantage over Burma. This year, Thailand's
export volume to Burma for the first nine months of the year was worth
Bt8.4 billion, up by 45 per cent over the Bt5.77 billion in the same
period the year before. 

Thai exports to Burma this year were much improved over last year,
particularly necessities. Shoes, bicycles and pharmaceutical exports
increased by 244, 91 and 76 per cent, respectively. 

During the first nine months of the year, imports from Burma contracted
by 15 per cent. Hence, Burma fell from being the number one source of
Thai imports among Indochina nations while Vietnam jumped up to first
place with a value of Bt3 billion. This was the main reason for Burma's
trade deficit with Thailand. 

Thailand imported soybeans, jewellery and garlic from Burma. 

Due to the baht flotation in July, trade between both countries in the
second half of the year became messy and caused delays. The fluctuation
and depreciation of both currencies caused difficulty for traders in
setting the prices on their goods. 

The value of foreign investments in Burma was more than US$6.3 billion at
the end of July, with Thailand the second-largest investor after
Singapore. The value of Thai investments in Burma right now is about $1.1
billion, while Singapore's investment reached $1.2 billion at the end of

Thai investments in Burma declined in the second half of this year due to
the economic situation in Thailand. The fluctuation and depreciation of
the baht did not encourage Thai investors to expand into foreign markets.
Burma is facing its own domestic problems, including an unstable