Myanmar, EU embark on full cooperation after sanction removal

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-8-1 9:46:38

Myanmar President U Thein Sein has vowed to make full cooperation with the European Union (EU) following the latter's total lifting of sanctions on Myanmar.

Meeting with an EU delegation led by Ambassador David Lipman in Nay Pyi Taw over the last two days, U Thein Sein thanked Lipman for ILO's relaxation, reinstatement of Generalized System of Preference (GSP) and opening of EU office in Myanmar.

He called for EU investment in the country.

Lipman said EU has laid down comprehensive approach and constructive framework for Myanmar's reform, and told U Thein Sein that an EU delegation comprising the task group leaders and eminent entrepreneurs, led by Catherine Ashton, would visit Myanmar in coming November.

In addition, Lipman offered to send EU experts to help Myanmar for the successful holding of 2015 general election.

Following EU's total removal of sanctions on Myanmar in April, Myanmar and the EU held the first ever forum in Nay Pyi Taw in June, a mechanism used to advance bilateral relations.

The forum announced the setting up of two working groups on trade and investment, and on cooperation.

The forum touched on current cooperation and priorities for the future, focusing on the implementation of the March 2013 joint statement on "Building a Lasting EU-Myanmar Partnership" proposed by President U Thein Sein and President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso.

The forum also discussed ways to support Myanmar's transition and its challenges, agreeing to establish a bilateral dialogue on human rights and consult in the near future on the practical modalities for this.

The task force is set to meet in mid-November for a wide range of productive discussions on all aspects of EU-Myanmar cooperation.

Exchanging views on political and economic development in Myanmar and in the EU as well as on regional and international issues, the forum agreed to convene again in Brussels next year.

In April this year , EU announced in Luxembourg total lifting of the sanctions against Myanmar with the exception of the embargo on arms, a move that EU said would boost bilateral cooperation between Myanmar and EU countries and further promote Myanmar's relations with the EU.

A statement of Myanmar's Foreign Ministry believed that the EU's decision will pave the way for benefiting the Myanmar people who strongly desire democratic reform and continuously support the government's significant reform process.

The EU said it will use all means and mechanisms at its disposal to support Myanmar's political, economic and social transition and in this context welcomes the initiative of a Task Force to be launched later in the year, building on the Joint Statement agreed on March 5, 2013 during the visit of President U Thein Sein to Brussels.

Earlier in June, the EU readmitted Myanmar to its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), allowing to benefit from lower duties on export.

Relations between Myanmar and the European Union improved following the visit of President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and the successive opening of embassies in Myanmar of three European countries, Switzerland, Norway and Denmark in November 2012.

Myanmar and the EU then signed a joint declaration at the Myanmar Peace Center (MPC) in Yangon on EU's support of Myanmar's peace process and offering of development assistance to the country, pledging to make joint efforts in building domestic peace.

According to official figures, EU's investment in Myanmar from Britain, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Denmark and Cyprus amounted to about 3.8 billion US dollars as of February 2013.

Bilateral trade between Myanmar and EU reached 226.37 million dollars in 2012 of which Myanmar's export to EU amounted to 43.54 million dollars while its import from EU stood at 182.83 million dollars.

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