Sep 4, 2012

Canada to establish permanent trade presence in Myanmar

Canada will have a full-time trade commissioner and have full trade-related services at its new embassy in Myanmar, International Trade Minister Ed Fast said Monday from the resource-rich southeast Asian nation formerly known as Burma.

Establishing this presence at the soon-to-open embassy in Myanmar will ensure that Canadian business have a dedicated service on the ground to help identify new business opportunities and assess risks, Fast said via teleconference as he wrapped up a week-long trade mission in the region.

The commissioner and related services will also make sure that any local partners in Myanmar are “individuals and companies of the highest ethical standard,” Fast said.
“A deeper Canada-Burma trade relationship will benefit Canadians through the jobs, prosperity and greater selection of reasonably priced goods and services that come from increased trade,” Fast said.

“In turn, our Burmese partners will benefit from the goods, services, expertise and improved standard of living that will come from increased activity in Burma by Canadian businesses.”

Who the trade commissioner will be hasn’t been announced yet, but the government said it will be someone with experience in the region.

Fast’s trade mission also included stops in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. The mission was intended to deepen Canada’s trade and investment ties in Southeast Asia.

In mid-July, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced that Canada would open an embassy in Myanmar.

Myanmar has undergone significant democratic reforms that have seen the ruling military junta loosen its decades-long control of the country. That control had prompted Western nations to impose sanctions in an effort to isolate it on the world stage.

But changes at the top began in 2010, including the arrival of a new president, followed by limited parliamentary elections and the release of opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from decades of house arrest.

Canada suspended its sanctions against Myanmar in April.

“While there is still a long way to go, I am encouraged by what I have seen here and by the steps the Burmese government has taken,” Fast said Monday.

The recent moves from the federal government come amid an international rush for Myanmar’s natural resources. Foreign companies have sought to cash in on Myanmar’s massive mineral and gem resources, which are valued at billions of dollars, as well as its oil and gas.

The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, which is already located in more than 150 cities worldwide, helps companies that are looking to export, invest abroad, and attract investment. The Conservative government has opened 15 new trade offices in fast-growing and emerging markets since 2006.



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