Jul 12, 2011

Indonesia seeks to expand trade and investment in Myanmar

Indonesia is seeking to expand trade with Myanmar, said Mr Edy Putra Irawady, Deputy Minister for Industry and Trade Affairs.

He said during a business seminar on June 30 that Indonesia would like to buy natural gas from Myanmar and would partly pay for it with fertiliser produced by the state-owned Pupuk Iskandar Muda company in Aceh Province.

“We have to move fast because Indonesia needs a certain gas supply. Also, we need to export our fertiliser,” he said during the seminar.

Mr Edy said he has investigated gas purchases from other nations but Myanmar is a favoured buyer because it is relatively close.

“We also have gas and we export liquefied natural gas but I need to find a supplier closer to the plant’s area,” he said, adding that Indonesia is ready to establish banking agreements to help build cooperation.

Indonesia’s vice minister for trade, Mr Mahendra Siregar, met with U Tin Naing Thein, the Minister for National Planning and Economic Development, and the Minister for Commerce, U Win Myint, in Nay Pyi Taw to discuss developing economic cooperation on July 1, Mr Edy said.

The discussions follow talks between presidents Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and U Thein Sein in Jakarta in May this year.

A press release issued by the Indonesian embassy in Yangon on June 30 said the two presidents discussed efforts to boost the volume of trade to US$500 million by 2015 and to increase Indonesia’s investment here, particularly in the energy, food production and infrastructure sectors.

Mr Edy said Indonesia would also like to play a role in Myanmar’s construction industry and ICT fields.

The first step in improving economic and cultural relations will be the establishment of direct flights between the two countries in the near future.

“Transportation is very important and Myanmar Airways International [MAI] is processing air linkages to Indonesia,” an airline spokesperson said.

He added that the routes will be Yangon-Singapore-Jakarta and Yangon-Singapore-Bali.

“I am very happy to hear that MAI will fly to Indonesia. It is very important,” said Mr Mahendra.

He added that trade seminars helped to build relations.

“You can communicate via the internet and telephone but face-to-face meetings are key because they help to build confidence between partners. These kinds of events need to be replicated,” he said.

“I am encouraged that Myanmar seems prepared and ready to welcome change,” he said.

Mr Djumara Supriyadi, Third Secretary of the Indonesian embassy, said the ministers discussed ways to increase the volume of trade and investment on July 1, adding that Indonesia is also interested in cattle farming ventures here.

“There is huge demand for beef in Indonesia and we would like to invest in Myanmar’s cattle industry,” he said.

Bilateral trade amounted to $316 million in the 2010-11 financial year, with exports of mainly beans and pulses amounting to $41 million, and imports of goods, primarily palm oil, worth $275 million.

The trade, while small in comparison to China or Thailand, nearly doubled from the $177 million recorded in 2009-2010, said Dr Pwint San, Myanmar’s deputy minister for commerce.

Source: Myanmar Times