Friday, July 10, 2009

Seminar explores trade and tourism ties with Indonesia

By Zaw Win Than

INDONESIA and Myanmar are sister countries that should develop their
trade, cultural and economic links - that was the message from a
seminar on trade and tourism between Indonesia and Myanmar held on
June 23.

The seminar, held at Yangon's Traders Hotel, discussed further
enhancing trade, commercial relations and tourism cooperation between
the two countries - which could even lead to "twinning" Bagan with the
famous Buddhist site of Borobudur, with eventual direct air links.

"When you look at how small the volume of trade and tourism is between
the two countries, I think it's time to discuss how to improve the
situation," said Indonesia's ambassador to Myanmar, Mr Sebastianus

"There is no direct banking or transportation link, something that
could create multiplier effects to our mutual benefit on the lives of
our two peoples. By conducting this economic seminar, I hope we can
exchange views on the best way to promote Indonesia-Myanmar economic
relations," Mr Sumarsono told seminar participants.

He said the two nations had a history of cooperation in politics, the
economy, socio-cultural matters and defence and security. Indonesia
considered Myanmar an independent partner, as shown by the treaty of
friendship signed in 1951, and were approaching the 60th anniversary
of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Indonesia had also
extended support in the wake of Cyclone Nargis.

"Unfortunately, our trade volume has not reflected this good
relationship, and the number of tourist visits between our two
countries is also still very low," said Mr Sumarsono.

He added that trade between the two countries was steadily gathering
momentum, citing an increase in person-to-person contacts between
Myanmar and Indonesian businessmen, with the encouragement of both

According to official statistics, the volume of bilateral trade
between the two countries has been increasing since 2005-2006. U Thein
Myint Wai, assistant director in the directorate of trade in the
Ministry of Commerce, said Indonesia's exports to Myanmar during
2008-2009 amounted to US$210.34 million, while its imports from
Myanmar were valued at about $28.35 million.

According to the Myanmar Investment Commission, the total foreign
investment in Myanmar as of March 31, 2009, amounted to more than $15
billion, of which Indonesia provided $241.497 million with 12
permitted enterprises. That is 1.54pc of the total foreign investment
in Myanmar, putting Indonesia in ninth place.

"There is no cooperation on a bilateral basis in the trade sector
between the two countries, and no agreement between Indonesia and
Myanmar for the promotion of trade. But both countries are cooperating
within ASEAN," said U Thein Myint Wai.

U Maung Maung Lay, secretary general of the Union of Myanmar Chambers
of Commerce and Industry, said Indonesian investment in Myanmar had
increased since a joint trade committee was formed in 2007 to improve
bilateral trade.

"Indonesia may rank ninth in foreign investment now, but soon I hope
it will be first," he said.
The prospects for tourism between the two countries was discussed by
Dr Sapta Nirwandar of Indonesia's Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and
by U Htay Aung, head of the Directorate of Hotels and Tourism of
Myanmar. Of the more than six million foreign tourists that go to
Indonesia every year, only about 2500 are from Myanmar.

"Although arrangements for tourism cooperation between Myanmar and
Indonesia haven't been signed yet, the two countries have friendly
cooperation in tourism," he said.
In order to deepen that cooperation, both countries will jointly
promote Bali-Ngapali-Ngwe Saung as tourist destinations, promote the
famous Buddhism sites Borobudur in Indonesia and Bagan as sister
cities, operate direct air links between two countries, and take other
joint measures.

Myanmar has already taken the lead on a project to promote Buddhist
pilgrimage tours among ASEAN member states and India. U Htay Aung said
the exchange of familiarisation visits between the two countries could
also help promote tourism in both.
He said to promote Borobudur and Bagan as sister cities, the
establishment of an airline link between the two countries would be

"Direct flights can't start immediately because the number of tourists
is still too low," he told The Myanmar Times, adding that a visa on
arrival system for Buddhist pilgrims arriving by charter flight could
be considered.

"Bagan is one of the world's most amazing heritage sites," Dr
Nirwandar said. "We plan to promote our Borobudur and Bagan as sister
cities to promote pilgrimage tourism, friendship and cooperation
between the two countries."

- Zaw Win Than
- Google


Nyi Nyi said...

Hey put out Google in your Photo credit. In stead, refer the real one. Otherwise, yours remind me of International news piece in New Light of Myanmar, the daily newspaper both in Burmese and English. Most of the source they mention is just"Internet".

An Asian Tour Operator said...

So shall I replace "Google" with "Internet"? lol :-)


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