The President of  Burma (Myanmar) Thein Sein has received a business delegation led by the President of the US-ASEAN Business Council Mr. Alexander Feldman at the hall of the Presidential Palace in Nay-Pyi-Taw on Monday, the state-run New Light of Myanmar reported.

President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar U Thein Sein received a business delegation led by President of US-ASEAN Business Council Mr. Alexander Feldman at the hall of the Presidential Palace in Nay-Pyi-Taw on 8 July, 2013. (Photo: Myanmar President Office Website)

According to the President, the USA-ASEAN Business Council served as an important institution for USA-ASEAN relations. He added that only peace and stability could bring about development of the national economy, through which the nation could make possible advancement towards a democratic goal. To fulfill that aspiration, the nation needs the support of the US-ASEAN Business Council.

The President added that his objective of cutting the country’s poverty rate by 16 per cent in 2015 was underway as the country has huge economic potentials with a wealth of natural resources and adequate manpower. He also mentioned the country’s strategic location flanked by South Asia and Southeast Asia offers a vast market for international investors. The President revealed the requirements of information and communication technology in telecommunications sectors. Foreign investors have been invited to work together with local operators as the country has a target of ensuring 80 per cent of its total population will have access to mobile services by 2015, he said.

Alexander Feldman, the US-ASEAN Business Council President, expressed his thanks in favor of the sector-wise bids for the US entrepreneurs. As the Council has started doing businesses in Burma, Feldman said he anticipated to reach more economic achievements. He also added that the trip was intended to strengthen businesses started 12 months ago. US investments will go where they are most needed such as in infrastructure projects and  health and education, he said.

On July 1, speaking at the US-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States remains committed to political and security engagement with ASEAN.

“[Burma] is a country that is setting a great positive trend and undergoing a dramatic political and economic transition,” Kerry said. Kerry noted that Thein Sein, works with a resurgent parliament that includes former military officers working alongside long-time democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi. The United States, the secretary said, “strongly supports [Burma's] journey toward democracy, which is really something that might have even been unthinkable just a few years ago.”

Burma’s Foreign Ministers Wunna Maung Lwin co-chaired at the ministerial meeting. During the meeting, FM Maung Lwin highlighted the visit of Thein Sein to the United States in May this year as a historic moment in bilateral relations. During his visit, the President reiterated his country’s commitment to steadfastly continue its reform process.

“We firmly believe that the development of a relationship between Burma and the U.S. will strengthen bilateral relations and thus contribute to the advancement of the ASEAN-U.S. relations,” Wunna Maung Lwin said.

However, the United States imposed sanctions on Lt. Gen. Thein Htay, the head of the Directorate of Defense Industries, who it says violated a U.N. Security Council ban on buying military goods from North Korea despite Burma’s assurances it has severed such ties, AP News said on 2 July 2013.

Shwe Mann, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, told The Associated Press during a visit to Washington last month that Burma’s arms trade with North Korea has stopped.

“If there’s any information that we hear on this matter we will continue to take actions as required. Because our country, like others, will abide by the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council,” he said. “We are not neglecting this matter.”

Unless Burma brought to a halt its defense ties to Pyongyang, the United States may not entirely embrace the former rogue country.