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President U Thein Sein met Members of the Business Community and Representatives of Business Associations at Mingala Hall

President U Thein Sein met Members of the Business Community and Representatives of Business Associations at Mingala Hall

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Nay Pyi Taw, 22 Feb

President U Thein Sein met  Members of the Business  Community and Representatives of Business Associations at Mingala Hall  of Yangon Region Government  Office  in  Yangon  Saturday morning.

On the occasion, the  President delivered an dress. He said: I  would  first  of  all  like  to welcome and extend my  well wishes to the members of the business community, representatives of business associations and all the  guests present here today.

My aim in attending today’s ceremony is to listen to the current state of affairs  and the challenges faced by the business community and businesses in general. Only then will we be able to provide political leadership to tackle the challenges and meet the needs of the business community in playing its critical role in economic development.

I  would  like  to  briefly discuss what we have done to promote economic development since my administration took office in light of the political, economic and social changes that have taken place in the country.

Since our government came into power, we have tried to institute polices grounded in accomplishing multi-sectoral reforms along with the political reforms, economic reforms and peace-building efforts.

Because of these actions, I would like to add that the reform processes and transformations that have come about are on the right path.

With regards to political reforms, not only are we building a more predictable political system, we can begin to see a new political culture taking root within our society. And since we are becoming a more open  society due to these political reforms, there will be increased interaction between the various political forces as well as disagreements between them.

However, we are able embrace the essence of this new political culture and overcome these disagreements through dialogue instead of confrontation.

In order for us to have a successful democratic transition, we will have to maintain political stability that is needed for the transition process and political awareness that is necessary for democracy to be meaningful.

I would also like to explain briefly about what my administration is trying to do to promote economic development. If we look back at Myanmar history, we can see that we were unable to establish a well functioning economic system.  Specifically, if we examine the economic systems instituted along with the political systems that were set up since the independence, we can see that they were unable to bring about economic growth and development.

The political transformations that we have achieved up to now give our society an opportunity to establish a well functioning national economic system.

In other words, the reason why we are carrying out economic reforms is to build a market economy and enable ways for all citizens to enjoy these opportunities. I would also like to point out that many things remain to be done and that the government and the private sector must work hand in hand to grab hold of this opportunity together.

My administration has concentrated on bringing about economic reforms from the ground up because economic development for the country is possible only when the private enterprises that constitute 90% of the country’s economy develop.

Some crucial economic reforms include: an increasingly stabilized foreign exchange rate; banking and financial regulations that are in line with market economy; creation of an independent central bank; and establishment of other fiscal, banking and financial policies.

At the same time, we were able to successfully negotiate the removal of economic sanctions imposed against this country by some members of the international community that were based on past political situation.

We were also able to sway the European Union to reinstitute generalized system of preferences which will aid our domestic producers when exporting goods into European markets. Likewise, we will continue bilateral discussions with other countries to further lower tariffs.

These reforms allow for greater linkages with international markets which in turn benefits  the  import  and export enterprises. In addition, this encourages export oriented development.

The government was also able to concentrate on trade liberalization, trade  facilitation, trade education and trade promotion. In addition, the government has undertaken measures that allow citizens to have equal opportunities in the trade sector, suspended 10% export duty and 8% commercial tax, instituted measures that allow businesses to obtain business licenses in Yangon, and allowed certain business activities to operate without requiring license. Thanks to such measures, the trade volume increased from 15.273 billion U.S. dollars in 2010-2011 fiscal  year  to  21.71 billion U.S. dollars up to the second week of 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Taking into consideration the welfare of foreign and domestic enterprises  wanting to invest in Myanmar, the Myanmar Investment Commission was  established with clear and transparent procedures. Between 2011 and December of 2013, a total of 188 foreign investments generated 8.2 billion U.S. dollars in investment while 145 local investments totaled 2.2 trillion kyats.

We were also able to successfully negotiate debt forgiveness for Myanmar’s international debt. As a result, we were able to reestablish linkages with the World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund, and the Asia Development Bank. This represents future avenues for Myanmar to obtain necessary capital and loans for the future development of the country.

At this moment, we are working towards the development of a capital market. Likewise, we are also developing domestic commodity markets that are of high standard and can have linkages to international markets.

In the past three years, there has also been progress in reducing restrictions and providing better access to investment capital in the primary economic growth areas such as trade and investment, development of small and medium enterprises and the agricultural sector. This is due to a large extent to the programs implemented by the government with the help of the private enterprises.

There has also been cooperation between the government and the private enterprises in the sectors such as electric power, telecommunication, and transportation that are keys to increasing the momentum for economic growth.

However, it has taken much effort to put the national economic system on firm footing and achieve solid results on such basic economic issues mentioned above.

The government of Myanmar will continue to work with the private enterprises in order for the people of Myanmar to enjoy the dividends from these economic reforms.

Our ASEAN Chairmanship coincides with an important time when AFTA (ASEAN Free Trade Area) and AEC (ASEAN Economic Community) will need to be materialized. While businesses based in Myanmar will have the advantage, it will be critical for medium and large businesses that rely on manufacturing and services to balance between supply and value chains.

Due to basic mechanisms for market economy where everyone can compete on the same footing, there is no longer a need for all businesses to try to enter into one sector. Instead, a system based on expertise and competitive advantage will allow enterprises to clearly focus on their strengths and achieve success.

I would also like to urge all of you to work with the government in showcasing Myanmar private sector’s prowess during our ASEAN Chairmanship.

The vibrant political process, political stability and fundamental economic reforms have given rise to the opportunities which in turn contribute to the economic growth and development of the country.

More importantly, the success of the national reconciliation process grounded in the current peace building efforts will allow us to construct a free, open and prosperous society as well as build a developed nation.

But we will be successful only when each and every one of us, including the members of the business community present here today, make a contribution towards this goal starting from what we have achieved so far.

It is crucial for the private sector to be able to appreciate and understand the pivotal role it plays because the success of a nation’s economy can only be seen through the success of its private sector.

In conclusion, I would like to point out that the most important element in political and economic reforms and peace initiatives is to adopt a mindset of finding solutions, resolving conflicts and finding alternatives constructively rather than through cynicism and blaming each other. This is the only way for our success. The representatives and entrepreneurs discussed matters related to development of industrial zones, Myanmar tourism industry and agricultural sector, urban land utilization, garment industry,  fisheries  and  livestock breeding sectors, gems industry, banking and financial institutions and Myanmar’s economic forum.

In his clarifications,  the President said that he respected entrepreneurs and representatives as they focused on the national interest rather than their own. He highlighted that the government needs to closely cooperate with them for the success of reform processes and promotion of private sector.

He stressed the needs to establish a mechanism enabling further cooperation between the government and private organizations, saying that Myanmar Economic Forum will serve as mechanism. The two working groups formed with the entrepreneurs and government officials are  to  coordinate each other, he added. Economic forums were established in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos since 1998 to draw laws, bylaws and handle problems and issues, he said.

He called on those present to hold talks with respective ministers for the  unsettled matters, adding that some issues will be taken into consideration at the cabinet meetings.

In the evening, the Union ministers held discussions with the entrepreneurs and representatives from business firms.

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