Sep 24, 2012

Myanmar president leaves for official visit to U.S.

Myanmar President U Thein Sein left here Monday to start a landmark official visit to the United States, the first by a Myanmar leader in 46 years.

Thein Sein's visit to the United States came one and a half years after he assumed office in March 2011 and the tour also followed U.S.'s recent removal of a ban on Myanmar imports.

Thein Sein is expected to seek total lifting of the remaining sanctions imposed by Washington following the easing of sanctions since earlier this year.

During his week-long U.S.tour, Thein Sein will attend the 67th UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday where he will deliver a speech for the first time as president of Myanmar representing a UN member nation.

More than a week before Thein Sein's departure for the UN General Assembly, UN Special Envoy to Myanmar Vijay Nambiar visited Nay Pyi Taw.

The two sides discussed Myanmar-UN cooperation under the new government, and other issues, such as peace and stability for democratization process in Myanmar, undertakings on socio-economic development and endeavors in fulfilling the UN Millennium Goals.

In May, U.S. Treasury relaxed some sanctions on Myanmar to allow financial transactions to support certain humanitarian and development projects in the country and in July when the first US ambassador Derek Mitchell took office in Yangon in 22 years, the Obama administration announced further easing of the sanctions, allowing U.S. companies to do business and invest in Myanmar in the sectors including oil and gas.

In July organized by the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, a delegation of over 70 senior executives from 38 leading U.S. companies, mace the first ever historic business mission to Myanmar, vowing to work closely with the Myanmar government for long-term U.S.-Myanmar business relations.

In August, eight more U.S. companies of the American Chamber of Commerce based in Singapore followed suit to seek investment opportunities in Myanmar.

Early this month, U.S. Permanent Representative to ASEAN Ambassador David L Carden, who met U Thein Sein in Nay Pyi Taw on the occasion of Myanmar-hosted Second ASEAN-U.S. Eminent Persons Group Meeting, said Washington is committed to take steps together in the reform process Myanmar has initiated.

Carden said arrangement is being made for the president to meet US-ASEAN Economic Council during the visit, voicing full support of the unity of ASEAN and hoping that Myanmar would play an active major role in ASEAN-US relations.

According to Myanmar official statistics, U.S. investment in Myanmar amounted to 243.49 million U.S. dollars in 15 projects, accounting for merely 0.6 percent of the total as of March 2012 since Myanmar opened to such investment in late 1988 and ranked ninth in Myanmar's foreign investment line-up.

The figures also show that bilateral trade between Myanmar and the U.S. reached 293.64 million U.S. dollars in the fiscal year 2011-12, with Myanmar's export to U.S. amounting to 29.57 million dollars and ts import from U.S. reaching 264.07 million dollars.

Source: Myanmar Times