Address by ITC Executive Director at the launch of Myanmar Trade and Investment project
Honourable H.E. Dr. U Than Myint, Union Minister for Commerce
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mingalabar. It is a great pleasure and honour for me to be here today to support the efforts of the Government and the private sector to generate sustainable economic growth for the benefit of the people of Myanmar and to do this in partnership with the United Kingdom, a long standing partner of the International Trade Centre.
I remember vividly that only four years ago, when we worked together with Myanmar to develop and launch this country’s first National Export , much work still had to be done to develop trade and improve the investment climate. I am pleased to see how much has been achieved since then.
Reforms have been initiated, infrastructure has been improved, industries have started to adjust their production methods to respond to market demands, and institutions have strengthened their processes to allow them to better respond to their client’s needs. This, among many other elements, has enabled Myanmar to maintain positive export growth, in particular in services, even as many other countries faced stagnation.
When I think of Myanmar, I see a country in rapid transformation. I see a country that builds on its existing assets and embraces the rapidly changing global economic environment and the opportunities offered by an “Emerging Asia”.
And Asia is truly emerging, with annual growth rates projected to average 6.3% until 2022. Located strategically in South-East Asia and with a young and entrepreneurial population, Myanmar has great potential to build on its assets and develop new sectors of growth. Myanmar’s location between China, India and ASEAN partners, together with the rapid development of trade corridors across the region put Myanmar in pole position to leverage a wealth of trading opportunities.
But for Myanmar to truly become a dynamic and diversified economy based on trade and investment integration, much remains to be done. The Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (MSDP) has set ambitious objectives to drive the country’s growth. The Myanmar Trade and Investment Project (TIP) that we are launching today can contribute to the implementation of this ambitious national programme.
The Trade and Investment Project will work with private and public sector partners to capitalize on these opportunities and help the country to position itself to attract quality investment and deeper regional integration. It aims to contribute to inclusive and sustainable economic growth and decent work for the people of Myanmar. Most importantly, it will support the government’s efforts to promote economic development across the country’s different states and regions.
The TIP will contribute to supporting Myanmar to translate its National Export Strategy into growth and jobs. This and other strategic plans will seek to solve competitiveness constraints, turn market opportunities into real-life transactions, modernise regulatory systems for improved efficiency and define key investment opportunities to invigorate Myanmar value chains.
The TIP will also provide tools and support for the implementation of the Myanmar Investment Promotion Plan. Investment promotion is one of the keys to attract capital towards upgrading production systems and processes for Myanmar to effectively compete in a complex and fast-changing global trading environment.
At the center of the TIP stands our ambition to empower the private sector to actively contribute to the design and implementation of Myanmar export and investment plans. The private sector plays a key role in tackling economic challenges and creating jobs. TIP will work closely with private sector partners to involve them in building a more efficient business environment that will ultimately benefit Myanmar citizens.
I am sometimes asked why I am so passionate about ITC supporting the Myanmar and it’s private sector partners in their quest to modernize the Myanmar economy, enable investment and improve trade relations. The answer to that question is simple. We believe in the potential of the Myanmar people to turn a troubled history into a regional success story. Myanmar has the resources, the dynamic workforce and the motivation to play a pivotal role in the region. This is a country of people who want to move forward, and we are honoured to be part of the journey.
I would like to thank the Government of the United Kingdom for funding the Trade and Investment Project. I am pleased that ITC and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) are collaborating with the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Investment and External Relations as well as the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) to implement the TIP.
ITC remains fully committed to making TIP a success, and we will keep supporting the economic transition process through the other initiatives in Myanmar. Support is the key word in this sentence. We are not here to bring our own economic gospel. We are to collaborate with you, to work together, each from our own strength.
I hope to meet you again in a couple of years, perhaps at this same place, and that we will be able to raise our glasses to the success of the Trade and Investment Project and the emergence of Myanmar as a bright star in Southeast Asia’s economic story.