MCOT | 15 March 2008
Thailand-Myanmar investment protection agreement signed
NAYPYIDAW, March 15 (TNA) — Thailand and its neighbour Myanmar have signed an investment accord aimed at protecting Thai investors and boosting foreign stakes in the diplomatically-isolated country’s economy.
The agreement was signed Friday during a one-day official visit of Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, a visit which was also designed for the premier to familiarise himself with that country’s State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) rulers after his government took office on February 7.
Mr. Samak and his counterpart Myanmar prime minister Gen. Thein Sein witnessed the signing of the agreement after holding bilateral talks soon after his arrival in the Myanmar capital.
Thailand is one of Myanmar’s largest investors and trading partners, with Thai state-owned energy firms being the largest buyers of natural gas from that country.
The parties discussed Myanmar’s plan to build a deep sea port in Tavoy in the country’s southeast. Gen. Thein Sein and the SPDC ministers asked for assistance from Thailand, Mr. Samak said, adding that he would confer with Thai business leaders wishing to invest in the project which could benefit business interests in both countries because it could link with Thailand’s Laem Chabang deep seaport.
Prior to signing the agreement, Mr. Samak met SPDC chairman Senior General Than Shwe at the Bayintnauang Yeiktha Building in the new capital.
Mr. Samak later presided at the opening of a new office building in the Thai embassy in Yangon, the former capital. The pemier said during the opening ceremony that he had ordered Thai ambassadors worldwide to operate a "one-stop service" to facilitate foreigners wishing to invest or explore investment possibility in the Kingdom.
Later in the visit, before returning to Bangkok, Mr. Samak presented his government’s policy to ’Team Thailand’ officials and met about 500 Thais, mainly from the business community, hotel staff and personal care workers and beauticians.
Mr. Samak told a TNA reporter that he had received sufficient information from Senior General Than Shwe on military-ruled Myanmar’s plans for its self-designated "roadmap to democracy".
The Thai premier said he would inform the leaders of European countries when he visits them in future and that he would speak at the UN General Assembly in September.
Leaders of military-ruled Myanmar last month made a surprise announcement that it would hold a referendum in May on a draft constitution and would hold a general election in 2010.
The elections will be the first since detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi led her National League for Democracy to a landslide victory in the 1990 elections, but the party’s victory was never recognised by the junta.
"The information is vital for countries interested in Myanmar and Senior General Than Shwe also expressed during the talks that he wanted to see peace in the country," said Mr. Samak.