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BERNAMA (Malaysian National News Agency)
Malaysia Economic News

April 25, 2001, Wednesday



BODY:  By: Roslan Ariffin

YANGON, April 25 (Bernama) -- Malaysian companies and entrepreneurs are 
urged to take advantage of the current excellent relationship between 
Malaysia and Myanmar to set up and expand business operations in that country.

Malaysia's ambassador to Myanmar, Datuk Mohammad bin Noh, said Malaysian 
companies can venture into sectors like plantation, mining, building and 
manufacturing which can provide long term profits.

"Currently, bilateral ties are excellent. This is due to the visit of the 
Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad) in January this year," he 
told a group of Malaysian journalists who paid him a visit
at the Malaysian Embassy here today.

The journalists are on a one-week visit to Mynamar to obtain the latest 
information on the country's situaton. The visit ended yesterday.

To-date, Malaysia and Singapore are the two biggest countries involved in 
trade in the Asean region comprising Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, 
Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Mohammad said that during Dr Mahathir's visit, a number of issues were 
discussed at the highest level, including how Malaysia could help Myanmar, 
which became ASEAN's member in 1997, to develop
and expand its economy.

"We should take advantage of the good relations between both countries. 
When there is good relations between two state leaders, a lot of things can 
be easily achieved," he said.

Myanmar, which has Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand as its 
neighbours, is a developing country which is going through an evolution 
towards democracy from a one-party socialism.
Mohammad said that among the ASEAN members, Malaysia has the most 
opportunity to penetrate Myanmar's market.

"From our observations, and not only the Malaysian embassy but also other 
countries, they said that for now Malaysia has the closest relations with 
Myanmar, as we have helped Myanmar a lot and they are
grateful for that," he said.

Mohammad said that there are a few areas where Malaysia could play an 
important role to develop Myanmar's economy like venturing into the 
plantation sector.

"Malaysia is keen to open up plantations like maize, oil palm in Southern 
Myanmar, and other sectors like mining and manufacturing," he said.

He said that the building sector is also important to Myanmar as the 
country is still lagging behind where infrastructure is concerned.

He said that Malaysian companies which are labour intensive should take the 
opportunity to commence operations in Myanmar which has cheap labour.

"In Malaysia, we are experiencing lack of manpower and Myanmar is a country 
where we can export our companies to, or relocate them," he said.

Myanmar is also conducive for Malaysian entrepreneurs as its judicial 
system and investment policy are similar to the ones in Malaysia.

He said that Myanmar is now opening its doors to become the most attractive 
investment destination in this region.

"A lot of countries are keen to invest as they know that there are a lot of 
opportunities and potentials in Myanmar," he said.

Mohammad hoped that Malaysian entrepreneurs would not be influenced by the 
biased reports put out by the foreign media on Burma.

"Even the Prime Minister has said that Myanmar is a very much misunderstood 
country outside Myanmar. Even in Malaysia, I suppose we know very little 
about Myanmar," Mohammad said.

"You have to come here to see Myanmar for yourself, what they have done to 
the country. The fact is that if Myanmar is prosperous, it wil also help 
Malaysia. A lot of tourists will go to Malaysia and trade
will also increase," he said.