The Future of Asia 2012

Myanmar Industry Minister Praises Benefits Of Change

Friday, May 25, 2012

TOKYO (Nikkei)--Myanmar is moving toward becoming a "democratic and peaceful" nation, its Minister for Industry Soe Thane emphasized at an international forum in Tokyo on Friday, adding that he and his country would welcome foreign direct investments from all over the world, including Japan.

Speaking at the annual Future of Asia conference, the minister said, "Myanmar has been an issue in the international community, but we are entering a new era for permanent change. Our priority lies in the betterment of our people."

He qualified his comments when asked a question from the audience, saying, "Aung San Suu Kyi's party and the government are working together for the people."

The minister added that his government has a limited time to prove its worth. "There may be problems but the main point is to develop our country for the people," he said. "We have three years to the 2015 elections. We are doing what we can for our people until then. If we are not capable, people will select a new government."

Soe Thane said in his speech that he welcomed investments from foreign countries, as it would improve the life of Myanmar's people.

"Reforms have been made to make an investment-friendly environment, particularly for foreigners," he said.

He pointed out reforms that are introducing special economic zones and one-stop company registration services.

"Full protection is given to investors", he stressed.

Myanmar is rich in natural resources, including natural gas, but the minister admitted the nation lacks technology, capital and management skills. He said Japan could contribute to building up these areas.

He also touched on the issue of ethic minorities, stressing reconciliation. "Our development also includes national harmony and regional development," he said. "Conflict with ethnic groups has hindered our growth and development. Moves toward bringing peace are starting to bring benefits."

He even suggested reducing military spending.

"Once peace is established throughout the country, it will be possible to redirect military spending toward social spending," he said. "The people we are negotiating with will be able to participate in the 2015 elections."

Titles of speakers, names of companies, etc., were correct as of the time when the forum was held.