Thailand and Myanmar have discussed future cooperation in promoting two-way trade and investment with an aim to increase bilateral trade value to 10-12 billion US dollars by 2017.
The discussion was made at the Eighth Meeting of the Thailand – Myanmar Joint Commission, hosted by Thailand in the northern province of Chiang Mai on 27-28 July 2015. The meeting was co-chaired by General Tanasak Patimapragorn, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand and Mr. U Wunna Maung Lwin, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar.
According to a release, issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in his opening message, General Tanasak expressed his will to strengthen bilateral cooperation between the two countries in all areas. With an emphasis on connectivity, particularly people-to-people contact, the close bilateral cooperation would serve as the key to the integration of the ASEAN Community. It would also allow the peoples of both countries to fully live with prosperity and dignity.
The Myanmar Foreign Minister then conveyed the message from the President of Myanmar to wish Their Majesties the King and the Queen of Thailand good health. After that, both sides proceeded to review their existing cordial relations and explored ways and means to further strengthen cooperation in all areas.
Both sides highly welcomed the planned royal visit to Myanmar by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn in October 2015 and deemed Her Royal Highness’s visit as a significant occasion that will help elevate relations between the two countries to a higher level.
On political and security dimension, the Thai side confirmed its support for reform and peace process in Myanmar. Both sides discussed cooperation in the upgrading of border checkpoints, preparations for the return of displaced persons to Myanmar, cooperation in narcotic drugs prevention and suppression, defense cooperation mechanisms, and cooperation in combating human trafficking.
Regarding economic issues, both sides discussed ways to promote connectivity in transportation, the setting up of the committee on land connectivity and the commencement of negotiations on the draft Agreement on Cross-Border Transport, as well as the memorandum of understanding on international bus services to facilitate trade, investment and tourism.
Thailand and Myanmar welcomed the progress of concluding the negotiations on the Agreement on Border Crossing. Concerning financial and banking cooperation, Myanmar allowed the baht –kyat direct exchange. In May 2015, Myanmar gave permission for the Bangkok Bank to open its branch in Yangon, Myanmar.
Both sides discussed ways to enhance collaboration on labor issues and the possibility of cooperation in fishery development and management in a sustainable manner. Myanmar will grant fishing rights to those eligible Thai entrepreneurs.
The two delegations also stressed the significance of the implementation of the Dawei Special Economic Zone Project and the plan to cope with the projected increase number of labor involved. Thailand would support the construction of the emergency department of the Dawei Hospital.
Concerning socio-cultural and development cooperation, both sides sought to strengthen cooperation in education, public health, tourism, and development. Emphasis would be placed on human resource development, institutional capacity building, and sustainable agricultural development in the State of Rakhine. The two delegations also accorded high priority to development cooperation and sought to intensify their efforts to enhance cooperation in this area.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar signed the Agreement between the Government of Thailand and the Government of Myanmar on Visa Exemption for Holders of Ordinary Passports. Both sides opined that the entry into force of the Agreement would further promote connectivity and enhance people-to-people ties, as well as tourism between the two countries.
On this occasion, General Tanasak and the Myanmar Foreign Minister also presided over the opening ceremony of the Myanmar Consulate-General in Chiang Mai on 29 July 2015.
The Thailand – Myanmar Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation is a regular high-level consultative mechanism to enhance closer collaboration and expand comprehensive cooperation in all areas. The two delegations agreed to hold the next meeting in Myanmar in 2017.