Special Report: Myanmar President‘s visit to Thailand

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Myanmar President Thein Sein visited Thailand during July 22-24 to meet with the Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on economy-related issues and other matters of mutual interest.

On the first day, President Thein Sein was invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to observe Laem Chabang Port, the main deep sea port and economic zone of Thailand located in Chonburi province where a special briefing was held regarding the overall economic and industrial development, the connection between Myanmar’s Dawei deep sea port and the Laem Chabang Port. He met with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to discuss the signing of 3 memorandums of understanding the next day.

Of the 3 MoUs signed by both leaders, the first is related to Dawei port improvement and economic zone development. The second MoU incorporates human resource improvement and infrastructure development in Myanmar. The third MoU is concerned with the Joint Commission on Cooperation or JC conference between the two sides. Myanmar will be the host of the next JC conference. Moreover, there was a discussion on establishing the Myanmar-Thai Culture and Economy Association, which will work in parallel with the existing Thai-Myanmar Culture and Economy Association in order to further stabilize the relationship of both countries.

PM Yingluck revealed that she has ordered the opening of 3 more check points on the Thai-Myanmar border. Those check points are Kiu Pha Wok in Chiang Mai, Dan Phu Nam Ron in Kanchanaburi, and Huai Ton Noon in Mae Hong Son province, while the plan to open another check point in Ratchaburi province is under the Thai government’s consideration. However, the two sides have agreed on two other development issues including Myanmar’s rice production enhancement and Burmese labor in Thailand.

The three MoUs are to reaffirm the relationship and cooperation between Thailand and Myanmar. Prime Minister said that the MoU signed on Dawei port, in particular, reflected the two governments’ willingness to commitment to improving the economic relationships in the area.

Before his departure, Myanmar’s President had expressed his appreciations to PM Yingluck and the Thai government over the warm welcoming environment. He promised to promote bilateral relations, human resource development, and economy of both countries especially the cooperation between Myanmar’s Dawei port and the Thai eastern seaboard.

Meanwhile, Energy Minister Arak Chonlatanon revealed after the signing of an agreement on natural gas and hydro-powered electricity that the Energy Ministry will cooperate with the Myanmar government in power plant construction at the Dawei port.

Additionally, ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said President Thein Sein’s visit shows a good sign of more cooperation from Myanmar in the ASEAN affairs. He stated that the move shows Myanmar’s readiness to host the ASEAN Summit in 2014 and cordial intention to help push for the region’s development ahead of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.