Canada stands by to support Burma’s democratic reform
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Canada stands by to support Burma’s democratic reform

President of Myanmar (Burma) U Thein Sein received Canadian International Trade Minister Mr. Edward Fast and party at the Credentials Hall of the Presidential Palace on 3 September 2012, The New Light of Myanmar newspaper said Tuesday.

Also present at the meeting together with the President were Union Minister for Foreign Affairs U Wunna Maung Lwin, Union Ministers at the President Office and departmental heads.

The President warmly welcomed the Canadian minister on his first-ever trip to Myanmar (Burma).  He said the Canadian foreign minister also paid a call on him on his visit.

Burma and Canada have having established diplomatic ties since 1958 and the two countries have opened a new chapter through these two high-level visits, President Thein Sein said. As the political system has changed, the foreign policy of Burma or Myanmar has to set up friendly relations with every nation whether they are from the East or the West, he underlined. The President expressed his optimism for upholding of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

President U Thein Sein received Canadian International Trade Minister Mr. Edward Fast at the Credentials Hall of the Presidential Palace on 3 September 2012.

President U Thein Sein received Canadian International Trade Minister Mr. Edward Fast and party at the Credentials Hall of the Presidential Palace on 3 September 2012. (Photo: www.president-office.gov.mm)

The Canadian minister said he was filled with delight by the President’s warm welcome and he witnessed dramatic changes in the country. Mr. Edward Fast continued to say that not only Myanmar citizens but the international community hold the same view that the President spearheaded the reforms.

President U Thein Sein expressed thanks the Canadian government for easing the economic sanctions.

Canada’s Official Development Assistance to Burma has been suspended since 1988.  However, Canadian Government has been working to strengthen democratic forces and civil society, as well as addressing the humanitarian needs of those who have sought refuge outside of Burma.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird April 24, 2012 announced that Canada will suspend some sanctions against Burma, which were among the toughest in the world.

“Canada is encouraged by the changes that have taken place in Burma, especially in the last year,” Baird said. “Today’s move signals our support for the reforms championed by the country’s president and demanded by the Burmese people. President Thein Sein and my Burmese foreign minister counterpart and others in power are to be congratulated for staying true to their word; we also applaud democracy champions like the incredible Aung San Suu Kyi for their commitment and involvement in this process.”

“There is more work to be done, but Canada stands ready to support Burma in building a free and prosperous society. The easing of these sanctions will help Burma move in that direction and create jobs, hope and opportunity for the Burmese people.” Plans are under way to open Myanmar embassy in Ottawa of Canada.

According to the state-run media, the President said on Monday that Myanmar (Burma) is geographically surrounded by vibrant economies, inviting investments in labor-intensive industries, workshops and value-added factories and workshops. Being an agro-based country, the country has held the opportunities to export high-quality agricultural produce, the President said. He displayed the possibility of establishing downstream industries in the country as it has a number of rubber and oil palm plantations.

More important point the President mentioned is that the country now has the legal framework for safeguarding investors. The President pinned his hope for increase in bilateral trade volume on the Canadian minister.

The Canadian minister was accompanied by 26 corporate delegations to seek economic prospects during his visit to Myanmar. As said by Mr. Edward Fast, the Canadian government has set high standards of Corporate Social Responsibility for Canadian companies.

President Thein Sein said Myanmar wants assistance from reputable democracies like Canada for continued existence of democracy in his country. He articulated his expectation for investment in factories and workshops of substandard technologies, which he said, is the essential necessity of the country.

He tipped the Canadian minister’s trip for improved friendship and increased trade cooperation. The Canadian minister emphasized the economic sanctions were lifted in recognition of human rights and economic reforms in Myanmar (Burma). The Canadian minister made a request for visa on arrival for Canadian citizens who will invest in Myanmar.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Baird said in April, “We encourage the authorities to continue their reforms in order to ensure greater openness and freedom for the Burmese people.”

FM Baird added that Canada has been standing by to support Burma’s democratic reform efforts and looks forward to working with the Burmese people as they seek to build a more democratic and peaceful society.