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7 February 2010

Lack of direct links hampers Myanmar-Indonesia cooperation

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The absence of direct banking links and airline flights between Indonesia and Myanmar are among the main constraints in efforts to develop their bilateral economic ties, the Antara news agency quoted an Indonesian envoy as saying.

Indonesian Ambassador to Myanmar Sebastianus Sumarsono made the statement in Jakarta Saturday on the sidelines of a Foreign Ministry Working Conference.

"These constraints are having a discouraging effect on our entrepreneurs (to develop economic relations with Myanmar)," he said.Sumarsono said, in 2008, the Indonesian representative in Yangon met with Myanmar`s central bank governor, Col. Than Nyein, in Nay Pyi Taw to explore possible ways to step up bilateral banking and monetary cooperation, especially establishment of direct banking links.

The Myanmar central bank chief welcomed the Indonesian effort and pointed out that Myanmar already had long-standing banking relations with such countries as China, India and Thailand.

According to Than Nyein, Indonesian commercial banks could support trade activities using the US dollar or other currencies with Myanmar through a "book transfer" system in collaboration with a number of Myanmar counterparts such as MFTB of Myanmar, Myanmar Economic Bank (MEB), and Myanmar Investment Commercial Bank (MICB).

Sumarsono hoped that Indonesian entrepreneurs would be more prepared to do business in or with Myanmar as the potential for closer economic cooperation between the two countries was quite large.

Indonesia-Myanmar trade in 2008 reached a total value of about $250 million and in 2009 it rose to $290 million.

Indonesia and Myanmar established diplomatic relations on December 27, 1949. The two countries are both members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).


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