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Opening Speech by His Excellency Lt. General Khin Nyunt, Chairman of the BIMST-EC Steering Committee and Secretary-1 of the State Peace and Development Council at the Opening Ceremony of the Third BIMST-EC Trade / Economic Ministerial Meeting
(Yangon, February 15, 2001)
This is the first time that Myanmar is hosting the BIMST-EC Trade / Economic Ministerial Meeting and I am greatly delighted to have the opportunity to give this opening address. As Chairman of the BIMST-EC Steering Committee of the Union of Myanmar, I would also like to extend a very warm welcome to our BIMST-EC Ministers and Delegates as well as to the representatives from ADB and ESCAP. Although your stay in the country is all too brief, it is our hope that you will be able to have an insight of our “Land of Golden Pagodas” – a country rich in beauty and culture, a country that is peaceful, stable and economically vibrant, with people confidently welcoming the twenty-first century and the third millennium.
We are living in an era of rapid technological advances and globalization. This globalization process has brought with it new opportunities as well as new challenges, particularly to the developing nations. We live in a world of increasing inter�dependence, growing economic completion and widening digital divide. In these times no nation can stay aloof and in isolation. To overcome these challenges, the developing nations must learn to cooperate with each other in the most effective and efficient way possible.
In this context, the Asian nations need to work together to thrive and to progress. The formation of BIMST-EC in 1997 is of great significance not only for its Member states but also for the region as a whole. It is our belief that BIMST-EC is a crucial link between the nations of South Asia and Southeast Asia. Although BIMST-EC had emerged only three and half years ago, it can be said that notable progress has been achieved in laying down the foundations for greater economic, cooperation among the Member Countries. We were able to identify 6 main areas for cooperation. In New Delhi, we were able to add 2 new areas, agriculture and disaster management, for future cooperation. We should not be discouraged if the pace of cooperation in some areas is not as fast as we would like. If we all devote special attention and focus on those areas where progress is to accelerate, we shall surely be on track again. On the whole, I believe that the level of cooperation so far achieved can be to a large extent a source of satisfaction for all of us.
At this juncture, allow me to say that we in Myanmar have confidence in the economic strength of BIMST-EC and its Members. With a combined population of over 1.2 billion people and abundant natural and human resources, our organization shall surely be able to bring about greater prosperity to the region. In this regard, it is of vital importance for all countries to implement the various sectored action plans effectively and as early as possible.
I am also heartened to learn that attention is being devoted for establishing the shared vision for a Free Trade Arrangement in the BIMST-EC region. We fully appreciate the complexities and sensitivities involved. However, I remain confident that working together in the spirit of goodwill and accommodation we shall be able to produce a blueprint in our march towards a Free Trade Area.
Myanmar looks forward to make a meaningful contribution for the progress and prosperity of the BIMST-EC region. Despite the negative impacts caused by the financial crisis that hit the region in 1997, our economy was able to grow due to of correct and timely policies and their vigorous implementation. At the end of March this year, we will be completing the 1996-97 to 2000-2001 Short Term Five Year Plan. Against a Plan target of 6 per cent, we were able to achieve an average annual growth of 7.2 per cent in the first four years of the Plan. In this last year of the Plan, GDP growth is projected to be at least 8 per cent.
Despite the progress made, circles holding negative views inside and outside the country continue to make all sorts of remarks and comments regarding our economy. Actually, in recent years there had been tremendous infrastructure buildup, greater I income, higher standards of living and better quality of life of the entire people as well as the narrowing of gap between cities and countryside. We are therefore very glad that Your Excellencies will have a chance to observe at first hand the true conditions of our economy. The truth of the matter is that our agricultural production is increasing, the industrial sector is growing and the services sector improving. Moreover, the economic achievements that you are witnessing today are being attained by our own efforts and without any assistance from abroad.
At the same time, we look forward to cooperating with the friendly nations for mutual benefit. Our agriculture, forest, mining, livestock breeding, industry, energy and services sectors including tourism, offer vast prospects for doing business in Myanmar as well as for cooperation with our Asian partners. It is our hope that Myanmar’s economic potential will contribute towards regional prosperity.
Myanmar joined BIMST-EC in 1997. We did so with full conviction of the goals, alms and purposes of the organization. I wish to reiterate our commitment to BIMST-EC. Myanmar will not be found lacking in its obligations. We will forge ahead with our efforts to promote cooperation with BIMST-EC Members.
The Agenda before this Third BIMST-EC Trade/Economic Ministerial Meeting is both wide-ranging and of great significance for the Member States and their peoples. I am confident that the Ministers with their wisdom and vast I ‘II be able to guide the Meeting to fruitful and beneficial results. In conclusion, may I wish all of you success in your deliberations and a pleasant stay in Myanmar.
Thank you all for your kind attention.