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Indonesia to strengthen ties, raise investments and trade with Myanmar

JOHN LIU The Myanmar Times  Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Diplomatic reception on Myanmar-Indonesia relations, trade development and future outlook in Yangon last week.. Ko Ko Htay/The Myanmar Times

YANGON, Myanmar – Indonesia is keen to strengthen bilateral relations with Myanmar and channel more investments into the country, to Indonesian Ambassador Iza Fadri told The Myanmar Times at the sidelines of a diplomatic reception on Myanmar-Indonesia relations, trade development and future outlook in Yangon last week.

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of Indonesia-Myanmar diplomatic relations, the Indonesian embassy in Myanmar organised a series of events including cultural and food festivals, to broaden people’s understandings of Indonesian culture last week. As emerging economies, the two countries have shared a long history of mutual assistance, said Ambassador Fadri.

He cited the goodwill gesture of Myanmar sending rice to Indonesia in the 1960s when Indonesia suffered from a shortage of food supplies, and again in 1997, when Indonesia welcomed Myanmar into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Bilateral exchanges have further extended to the grassroots level, with the Indonesian government now offering Myanmar students official scholarships to pursue their studies in the archipelago. Last year, 11 students from Myanmar secured the opportunity.

Seeing potential opportunities for growth in the country, Indonesia also wants to channel more investments into Myanmar. Pharmaceutical firm Kalbe Myanmar Co will begin operations in a few months time in Thilawa Speical Economic Zone, for example. The firm has been characterised as “an example for the future development” of Indonesia companies in Myanmar.

Meanwhile, the embassy has received over 30 inquiries regarding investment possibilities in Asia’s last frontier economy, the ambassador said.

In fact, investments from the archipelago are actually much higher than official statistics, as several companies directed capital into Myanmar via a third country. This includes Singapore-listed poultry and poultry feed manufacture Jafpa Ltd, which opened a subsidiary, Japfa Comfeed Myanmar, in the country five years ago.

Currently Myanmar’s 14th largest trading partner, Indonesia also wants raise trade volumes between the two countries. Projections of future growth in terms of trade are looking hopeful, especially with Indonesia investments in Myanmar set to growth further, said Ambassador Fadri.

In a business matching event last month, the ambassador also noted that bilateral trade between the two countries hit US$1 billion last year, citing it as a “milestone and new chapter for Indonesia-Myanmar economic cooperation”.

However, Ambassador Fadri also raised certain obstacles faced by foreign businesses when exploring opportunities to expand into Myanmar.

“The companies are concerned about regulations here,” he said, adding that the volatility brought about by uncertainties in regulations and complexity in procedures could pose hindrances to foreign investments on top of the basic infrastructure needs.

Mr Rudi Santosa Irawan, director of Kalbe, told The Myanmar Times last month that the problem of the mismatch between new regulations and implementation has to be addressed by the Myanmar government.

From: the Myanmar Times (Myanmar) Tuesday October 29, 2019

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