Sunday, April 21, 2013


    Jakarta, April 21, 2013 (Antara) - As fellow member states of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Indonesia has always maintained good relations with Myanmar and strongly supported the democratization process in the country formerly called Burma.
         Indonesia has lately intensified efforts to boost economic ties with Myanmar which has offered significant trade and investment opportunities as the Nay Pyi Taw administration has been moving towards democracy.

         The two countries' high-ranking officials have frequently  exchanged visits to strengthen the bilateral relations, particularly in trade and investment.
         In May 2011, Myanmar's President U Thein Sein paid a state visit to Indonesia. It was  Sein's first foreign trip since he was sworn in as Myanmar's head of state on March 30 following elections in 2010.
         President Sein and his Indonesian counterpart Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in a bilateral meeting discussed efforts to increase investment from Indonesia in Myanmar, especially in energy, food and infrastructure.  The leaders also agreed to boost bilateral trade to US$500 million by 2015.
         With a bilateral trade standing US$472.76 million in the fiscal year 2011/12, Indonesia was Myanmar's fourth largest trading partner among ASEAN member states after Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.
         Myanmar's imports from Indonesia stood at US$431.82 million, while its exports represented US$40.94 million during the year.
          According to official statistics, Indonesia's investment in Myanmar amounted to US$241.497 million in 12 projects, accounting for 0.57 percent of the total as of February 2013 since Myanmar opened to such investment in late 1988, Xinhua reported. 
   Indonesia ranks as the 14th-largest source of foreign investment in Myanmar.
        To reciprocate Sein's visit, President Yudhoyono will pay a state visit to Myanmar on April 23 and 24, 2013,  to boost bilateral ties. It will be his first state visit there since 2006.
       "The visit is expected to strengthen the existing sound bilateral relations between the two nations. Nowadays, opportunities are huge for economic cooperation as Myanmar's economy is open in line with the country's ongoing democratic transformation process,"  Teuku Faizasyah, a presidential special staff for international relations, said in a statement in Jakarta on April 20, 2013.
         During his stay in Myanmar, Yudhoyono will among other things
hold a bilateral meeting with President U Thein Sein to discuss the bilateral cooperation between Indonesia and Myanmar in various fields.
       After the bilateral meeting, the two leaders will witness signings of several Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) among other things on cooperation in rice trade, capacity building, and trade and vestment.
        In early April this year, Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Hatta Rajasa visited Nay Pyi Taw and announced that the two countries had set a target of increasing bilateral trade to US$1 billion by the end of 2016.
         The target will be met partly through investments in the mining, agriculture, telecommunications, construction, banking and electric power sectors, Rajasa, who led a business delegation consisting of 60 representatives from 11 leading companies, said at a business forum at the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers and Commerce Industry (UMFCCI) on April 3, 2013, the Myanmar Times reported.
         According to media reports, Indonesia has offered to buy 300,000 tonnes of rice from Myanmar with more to follow.  Indonesia is also striving to promote direct investment in Myanmar in areas such as infrastructure and tourism and to boost cooperation in forestry, agriculture and fishery.
        "We thank the Indonesian business friends and strongly recommend investing in Myanmar as we are welcoming ASEAN investors with favourable conditions. It is a strategic time to come to Myanmar," UMFCCI president U Win Aung said at the forum.
        Indonesian Minister of State Enterprises Dahlan Iskan last March said about 15 state-owned enterprises wanted to invest in Myanmar in 2013.
         Among the 15 companies are construction company PT Wijaya Karya (WIKA), electricity company PT PLN, tin firm PT Timah, aircraft maintenance company PT Garuda Maintenance Facilities (GMF), coal producer company PT Bukit Asam, state logistics agency Perum Bulog, PT Bank Negara Indonesia, fertilizer producer PT Pupuk Indonesia, cement company PT Semen Indonesia and telecommunication company PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia.
        "Business is rising in Myanmar in accordance with the democratization process there," said Dahlan, adding that "All operational cost of Indonesian state owned companies in Myanmar will be taken care by PT Bank Negara Indonesia."  
  According to Minister Dahlan Iskan, of the 15 companies, three state companies have been granted business licenses by the Myanmar government to operate in that country.
         Construction company PT Wijaya Karya (Wika), tin mining company PT Timah,  and cement producer PT Semen Indonesia have secured the license  and are ready to expand business in that country, Dahlan said on April 2, 2013.
         The three companies already opened representatives offices in Myanmar, he said.
           Wika is licensed to operate as construction service consultant  and build a factory to produce concrete poles.
         "Wika has already had a location for the factory to be owned jointly with a Myanmar local company," he said.
         PT Timah won a tin mining concession  and PT Semen Indonesia is licensed to build a new cement factory  with a production capacity of one million tons a year.
        "I have visited  to inspect the situation in Myanmar. The political condition has improved  over the past six months," the minister said.
       The minister earlier said electricity company PT PLN will cooperate with local company in Myanmar in reducing electricity loses rate in the country which is still at 26 percent. In Indonesia, the electricity loses rate is below 10 percent.  
    Aircraft maintenance company PT GMF will offer maintenance
service to aircraft companies in Myanmar.
         Indonesian coal producer PT Bukit Asam will invest US$80 million to build a 2x20 Megawatt steam power plant.
         PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia Tbk. (Telkom) will continue with its expansion program in Myanmar despite its recent failure to win a tender to be a cellular phone operator in that country.
        "The Myanmarese government is intensifying efforts to provide access to information technology for its citizens. Telkom is optimistic it could become the Myanmarese government's reliable partner for the development of information technology infrastructure in Myanmar," the company's Public Relations Operation Vice President Arif Prabowo said in a press statement on April 12, 2013.
          He said although PT Telkom had failed to be included among shortlisted bidders for cellular phone operations it was optimistic its business opportunity in that country is still wide open especially in the fields of digital media and information communication and technology (ICT) solutions needed by small, medium enterprises and corporations in that country.
        Until now PT Telkom through its subsidiary, PT Telekomunikasi International (Telin), has successfully expanded to Hong Kong, Timor Leste, Singapore, Australia and Malaysia.
        In the political relations, Indonesia's former vice president Jusuf Kalla last year visited Myanmar's Rakhine state which has been hit by sectarian conflicts involving Buddhists and Muslim Rohingya. 
   And in January, Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalagawa gained rare access to one of the areas hit hardest by the violence.
         At the invitation of Myanmar's President Thein Sein, Marty visited Rakhine State on January 7-8, 2013, to meet with Rohingya and Rakhine ethnic communities in refugee camps in Pauktaw, Sambalay village, Taungbaw village, Kyauktaw, Maw-Ya-Wadi village, Maungdaw, Ohn-Daw-Gyee and Min Gwan.
          To demonstrate Indonesia's sympathy and solidarity, the Indonesian government donated US$1 million in humanitarian aid to the victims of the ethnic violence in Rakhine State for the construction of their houses.     
   Indonesia has also been determined to contribute to the creation of mutual trust between the communities involved in the sectarian conflict, and to help promote economic growth in the region, Marty Natalegawa said following his visit to Rakhine.
         "The economy of the state also needs a boost so there can be more jobs and people can enjoy a better quality of life in the future," Marty added.
         Myanmar has been entrusted by its ASEAN fellow members to become the next ASEAN Chair in 2014 as the country had demonstrated  progress towards democracy. ***3***

(T.F001/A/F. Assegaf/A/A. Abdussalam) 21-04-2013 22:23:

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