Thailand provides immense support by sharing best practice and expertise aimed at empowering and upgrading Myanmar’s development process. Pisanu Suvanajata, Ambassador of Thailand to Myanmar, discusses bilateral relations and business opportunities between the two countries.
European Times: How would you describe the bilateral relations between the two countries?
Pisanu Suvanajata: The extensive openness in the bilateral relations is visible on numerous levels. The economic relations are expanding and the bilateral trade worth noted growth to US $7.74 billion in 2015, with exports from Thailand worth US$4.17 billion. In terms of population exchange, the movement of people between the countries shows constant increment, as a reflection of the cordial relations. Provided that both countries are members of the ASEAN family, enhancement of the cooperation is required through steps such as visa exemptions, modalities to facilitate cross-border cooperation, creation of new connectivity points through land, sea and air, and streamline of rules and regulations, all in order to cope with the ASEAN main goal – minimum barrier between the countries.
European Times: What are the latest improvements of the legal framework between Myanmar and Thailand?
Pisanu Suvanajata: This year, the two governments signed three bilateral agreements – Agreement on Border Crossing between Thailand and Myanmar, Memorandum of Understanding on Labour Cooperation and an Agreement on Employment of Workers. Taking in consideration that there are currently over one million Myanmar workers in Thailand, which both governments work closely to provide assurance that these migrant workers are able to work under proper conditions and protected by standard human rights. The point that has been addressed is also joint efforts to suppress and prevent human trafficking.
European Times: Please elaborate on the possibilities for further development of the economic cooperation.
Pisanu Suvanajata: In terms of business opportunities in Myanmar, I would like to identify several fields of interest: infrastructure and energy, agriculture development, financial sector, telecommunication (IT infrastructure) and tourism. One of our priority interest is the Special Economic Zones, particularly Thilawa and Dawei. These economic zones are related and connected, and in the age of the ASEAN Community and Asian modernization, we want ASEAN and other regional economic powers to be the world’s engine of growth.
To achieve this, Thailand and Myanmar, as key countries in mainland Southeast Asia, serve as a land bridge across the two oceans, Indian and Pacific, with our great potential. As far as our bilateral relations are concerned, the further promotion of better and mutual understanding still remains a necessity. We will therefore further facilitate people to people exchanges, initiate new connectivity through road linkages, maritime and air, and streamline rules and regulations. Thailand’s philosophy in doing this is based on the belief that our neighbour’s security and prosperity is also our security and prosperity.
In this regard, we will spare no effort to lessen the development gap with Myanmar in which development assistance from Thailand will be further extended and expanded. Thailand is also prepared to work with other countries through trilateral cooperation for this goal with a view to moving forward together with our neighbouring country and not to leave anyone behind.