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REUTERS: Burma Trade Fair Has Uniqu

Subject: REUTERS: Burma Trade Fair Has Unique Flair

************************Posted by BurmaNet************************
  "Appropriate Information Technologies--Practical Strategies"

April 19, 1994


Dan Thomas

Rangoon--The colourful leather jacket made from barking deer hide
and snakeskin was definitely more Mandalay than Milan.

Red and brown blotches on a light tan coat fringed in rough green
and black boa constrictor skin may not be everybody's idea of
style, but it drew a lot of attention at Burma's first major trade
fair this month.

"We call this our three-colour flower design," explained Myint
Than, chairman of the Mandalay based Nila Leather Jerkin Product

"My 15 year old son invented this unique technique while playing
around with different dyes.  The inspiration comes from Allah," he
said with an engaging waggle of the head.

Surrounding his stall were hundreds of other displays by Burmese
businessmen and civil servants hawking everything from plastic
buckets and hand-woven textiles from  the Golden Triangle to vast
tracts of farm land and new brand of cigarettes.

Foreign businessmen and curious tourists joined thousand s of local
residents for a stroll along the aisles as eager salesmen invited
them to take a closer look at their wares.

Burma, politically and economically shunned by all but a few
nations since its ruling generals crushed a pro-democracy movement
in 1988 and renamed the country Myanmar, has recently been opening
up in a bid to boost its economy.

Organized by the ministry of trade, Myanmar Trade Fair '94 was part
of a relatively new drive by the ruling State Law and Order
Restoration Council to attract investment and win export orders.

The only problem was that almost all participants at the show were
new to the export game.

"We are beginners.  We haven't' any customers.  Now that the
government has opened the economy, this is our first chance to find
exporters," said Myint Than.

Opening the fair, which ran from April 1 to 12 under the slogan
"Export expansion--the national strength," Trade Minister LTGEN Tun
Kyi said one of the main aims was to get international exposure for
Burma's exportable goods.

"The government is therefore giving top priority to export
promotion," he said at the opening ceremony attended by leading
members of SLORC, diplomats, local and foreign businessmen and a
bevy of beautiful Burmese models.

Of the 203 stalls, 33 were taken by state-owned corporations, 18 by
government joint ventures, 60 by cooperatives and the rest by
private enterprises.

Thein Win, chairman of the Myanmar Industry Association and a
successful Burmese entrepreneur himself, was busily looking for
buyers for his new brand of cigarettes, Polo Nine, which he hoped
to be able to export to Russian and China.

The cigarettes, which wholesale at just $2.50 per carton of 200,
were made locally from the purest Burmese Virginia tobacco by the
Myanmar Glacier Tobacco--a joint venture set up one year ago with
backing from South Korea's Glacier Tobacco LTD, he said.

"A lot of people believe the game polo was invented in Burma and
everybody here considers the number nine to be lucky, hence the
name Polo Nine," he said.

Asked if he thought SLORC's poor human rights record might put off
potential buyers and investors, he said Burma was better than China
"in a political sense" and that China didn't seem to have any
problems selling its goods.

"Just because of the human rights situation, do I have to stop my
work?" he demanded to know.  "My people need work, politics is
different issue."

Beneath a large sign inviting foreigners to "grab the golden
opportunity now", civil servant Myo Myint from the ministry of
agriculture was on the lookout for foreign businessmen to persuade
to invest in farming, plantations and food-processing.

He said the government had identified 1.55 million hectares of
hallow land and 8.23 million hectares of culturable wasteland which
would be suitable for joint ventures.

*                                                                      *
* "It is not a man's duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself    *
* to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may      *
* still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his      *
* duty at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no       *
* thought longer, not to give it practically his support.  If I        *
* devote myself to other  pursuits and contemplation, I must first     *
* see, at least, that I do not pursue them setting upon another        *
* man's shoulders."                                                    *
*                                                                      *
*                                   Civil Disobedience                 *
*                                                                      *
*                                   Henry David Thoreau                *
*                                                                      *