Myan­mar and South Korea seek free trade boost

The Myanmar Times - - Business - SWAN YE HTUT swanye­htut@mm­times.com

AMID de­clin­ing trade be­tween Myan­mar and South Korea, of­fi­cials from both coun­tries say the com­ple­tion of a free trade agree­ment should be a fo­cus be­tween the two na­tions.

Speak­ing at a sem­i­nar to dis­cuss trade be­tween the two na­tions in Nay Pyi Taw on Oc­to­ber 12, Union Com­merce Min­is­ter U Than Myint said that a re­cent drop-off in trade meant more needed to be done on both sides to strengthen the com­merce re­la­tion­ship.

“It means we still need to put more ef­fort in pro­mot­ing bi­lat­eral trade and we also need to pre­pare for the es­tab­lish­ment of an FTA,” he said.

U Than Myint said that South Korea was Myan­mar’s eighth-largest trad­ing part­ner. He said that bi­lat­eral trade with South Korea was val­ued at US$452 mil­lion in the 2010-11 fi­nan­cial year. This rose to $1.57 bil­lion, he added, in the fol­low­ing fi­nan­cial year, but then fell again by the 2015-16 fi­nan­cial year to $656 mil­lion af­ter “South Korea cut Myan­mar’s ex­ports”.

U Than Myint did not say why the “cut” had oc­curred. But tra­di­tion­ally, Myan­mar ex­ports agri­cul­tural, fish, forestry and min­eral prod­ucts to South Korea, he added.

Jointly hosted by the Korea In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Agency (KOICA) and the Korea Trade In­vest­ment Pro­mo­tion Agency, of­fi­cials at the event said the KOICAbacked mas­ter plan, which was ini­ti­ated in May 2015 and has cost $3 mil­ion to de­velop, is now fi­nalised and aims to boost bi­lat­eral trade through re­duc­ing tar­iffs and red tape. The plan also aims to de­velop more value-added pro­duc­tion in the coun­try with South Korea pro­vid­ing tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance to Myan­mar.

“The mas­ter plan also cre­ates op­por­tu­ni­ties through which we can at­tract more South Korean in­vest­ments,” said U Htein Lin, a di­rec­tor at the Min­istry of Com­merce.

Of the key sec­tors the gov­ern­ment is seek­ing to pro­mote, Korea has sug­gested that Myan­mar’s gems and jew­ellery and agri­cul­tural sec­tors show ex­port po­ten­tial for a South Korean mar­ket, he said, adding there was an op­por­tu­nity to turn many lo­cal raw ma­te­ri­als into fin­ished prod­ucts for ex­port.

– Trans­la­tion by Zar Zar Soe

‘We also need to pre­pare for the es­tab­lish­ment of an FTA [free trade agree­ment].’

U Than Myint Com­merce min­istry

Photo: Aung Myin Ye Zaw

A fish­er­man loads his daily catch onto the back of a cart. Of­fi­cials say that fish prod­ucts have the po­ten­tial to help boost trade to South Korea.

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