Myanmar seeks to boost economic, investment ties with Arab countries

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Myanmar Commerce Minister
U Aung Naing Oo

Khaldon Azhari

NAY PYI TAW- (Myanmar): Myanmar seeks to enhance cooperation with Arab countries in trade, investment and other sectors counting on the country's potential, U Aung Naing Oo, Minister of Commerce of Myanmar, said in an interview with PanOrient News at his office in the political capital of the country.

Central Yangon

Minister Naing Do, responsible for handling export/ import issues, consumer affairs, export promotion to the international market and protecting intellectual property rights, expressed hope for more agreement and cooperation in those sectors. Currently, Myanmar has a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with Kuwait.

Friday Muslim prayers
in a Yangon Masjid

The minister said profitable products for exporting to the Arab countries include rice, pulses and beans, corn and sesame. "We also have many items to be imported from Arabic countries, such as petroleum products and fertilizers. Therefore, we could increase bilateral cooperation and understanding through communications and exchanges."

Myanmar is an agro-based country that relies on imported agricultural products and fertilizer, which could be one of the areas for cooperation with Arab countries, the minister said.

Investments are another business potential for both sides in Myanmar's petroleum chemical sector and Halal food processing. "We have plenty of land resources that can be used to produce raw materials to be processed as halal food and exported to Islamic countries," he said.

Minister U Aung Naing Oo said an untapped area for investment is the tourism sector, emphasizing his government is facilitating the visa process for Arab tourists and businesses and setting up an Online Visa System, which is currently being revitalized to make it more efficient.

The minister urged investors to look at the situation in his country without being discouraged by the crisis and developments in the Rakhine State. "Everything is returning to normal, particularly after the election. Therefore, Myanmar is still an attractive country for investment, and the crisis is temporary." He stressed that now is the right time for investment opportunities, and the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) is paying attention to all details to enable the smooth setting-up of projects in the country."

Trade relations with Arabic countries go back to 1940, and MIC is ready to boost these as Myanmar offers a lot of exports of quality seasonal fruits such as mashed melon and mango.

Studies by the ministry show petroleum chemicals, fertilizers and food processing are good investment areas for Arab countries. The exchange of workers program would also benefit both sides.

The minister expressed disappointment toward some negative reports about Myanmar, saying it is exaggerated and damaging. "We are working to counter those accusations and making every effort to solve problems through proper communication with the Arab community. It is a fact that all communities live together peacefully in Myanmar. For example, you can see the Buddhist, Islamic and Christian communities residing peacefully next to each other, something hardly reported by the international media."

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