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 20 Aug 2008

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Myanmar:
Natural gas sales up 25 percent
Rubber exports to N Korea begins

Government statistics show sales of natural gas soared nearly 25 percent to $2.5 billion, up from $2.03 billion, in the financial year through March, according to a report in International Herald Tribune Tuesday.

Quoting the data from the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development, the newspaper reported that Myanmar’s natural gas sales constituted 40 percent of the country’s total commodities export revenue of $6.4 billion in 2007-2008, with neighboring Thailand being the primary market.

Myanmar has exported natural gas since 1998 from its two major offshore gas fields in the Gulf of Martaban. Thailand uses the natural gas mainly to produce electricity.

Myanmar exported 515,689 million cubic feet (14,604 million cubic meters) of natural gas in 2007-2008 compared to 460,087 million cubic feet (13,029 cubic meters) the previous year.

In a related report on exports, local weekly Myanmar Times said the military-run country is to begin exporting rubber to North Korea, in a further warming of relations between the reclusive governments of the two countries.

Communist North Korea only restored diplomatic links with the junta in April last year, more than two decades after they became estranged over a deadly bomb attack on Myanmar soil.

"They will start by importing at least 10,000 tonnes within the first year," Khaing Myint of the Myanmar Rubber Planters and Producers Association was quoted as saying by the weekly.

Khaing Myint said Kim Sok Chol, the North Korean ambassador in Yangon, confirmed the decision to the association on August 14.

"We expect the first batch to be delivered in October," Khaing Myint reportedly said.

Myanmar and North Korea severed ties in 1983 after the North staged a deadly bomb attack on a South Korean government delegation at the Martyr's Mausoleum, near the famous Shwedagon pagoda, in Myanmar's main city Yangon.

The attack aimed to assassinate South Korea's then-president Chun Doo Hwan who was on an official visit.

Chun survived the blast but it killed 17 of his entourage, including four cabinet ministers, while 17 others were wounded. Four Myanmar officials also died in the blast.

Both Myanmar and North Korea are subject to economic sanctions from Washington and have been harshly condemned by the United States.

Myanmar produced 70,000 tonnes of rubber in the 2006-07 fiscal year and expects to produce 75,000 tonnes in the current financial year.

Myanmar, ruled by the military government in 1988, faces economic sanctions by the United States and the European Union which hope to pressure the regime into improving its poor human rights record and hand over power to a democratically elected government.

It uses only 15 percent of its rubber domestically, exporting the rest.

Myanmar has been ruled by the military since 1962.





 

 

 

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