Oct 12, 2011

Preparation for ASEAN 2015

A national workshop on ‘Enhancing Myanmar’s participation in the ASEAN Economic Community’ was held at the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry building in Yangon on October 6.

The workshop focused on how Myanmar can benefit from ASEAN economic integration, followed by a look at Vietnamese, Malaysian, Cambodian and Thai experiences in utilising ASEAN regional trade.

The workshop organisers, a collaboration between UMFCCI and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, stressed the value of such events for Myanmar’s future economic development.

“This was organized because this is a moment of transition in Myanmar. UMFCCI and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies decided that we should explain about the ASEAN Economic community to the Myanmar business community,” said Mr Rodolfo C. Severino, head of ASEAN Studies Centre of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Dr Daw Sandar Oo, professor and head of the Department of Management Studies from the Yangon Institute of Economics spoke on the challenges and opportunities Myanmar faced in implementing ASEAN connectivity and regional trade.

She recommended that the government focus on export promotion policies for agricultural products and in resource based sectors, strengthening research and development programs, and also integrating into the regional value chain as it moves towards the ASEAN Economic Community.

U Aye Lwin, deputy general secretary of UMFCCI said that this kind of seminar would be helpful for the private sector as well as for government departments to help understand how ASEAN countries already in the ASEAN Economic Community have experienced and benefited from participation in the ASEAN community.

“The UMFCCI’s role is to organise such workshop so that the private sector as well as officials can gain new ideas for making the kind of changes needed to join the ASEAN Economic Community,” he said.

The workshop was also significant in that it followed recent trends by inviting exiled commentators such as U Tin Maung Than, chief editor of Thint Bawa magazine, who was allowed a visa coming from America.

Discussing how Myanmar could catch up with the ASEAN Economic Community, he questioned the current economic management of the country.

“The main point is that we don’t have information on how governmental departments have prepared for it,” said U Tin Maung Than, who was forced to leave Myanmar in 2000.

“Myanmar’s economic resources are more based on non-manufacturing sectors. A car that costs about US$1000 in other countries could be sold for around $50,000 in Myanmar.

“I wonder if the resources are being misallocated,” he said.

U Win Aung, president of UMFCCI told the workshop he was optimistic that with the cooperation of ASEAN family members, the private sector here will live up to the goal of achieving prosperity of Myanmar’s national economic development and also contribute to developing the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.

“I would also remind you that today’s workshop is the very beginning of a lot of things to be done. We will be supportive to the interests of our economy as well,” he said.

Myanmar has been a fully-fledged member of ASEAN since July 1997 and agreed to the implementation of an ASEAN Free Trade Area in January 1998.

By 2010, the share of trade from ASEAN countries in Myanmar amounted to 51 per cent while foreign investment was about 35pc, compared to 34pc for trade and 30pc in foreign investment in 1998.

Source: Myanmar Times