Chiangrai Times – The official visit to Thailand by President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, U Thein Sein, from 22 to 24 July 2012, as guest of the Thai government will be a significant milestone of Thai-Myanmar relations.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Myanmar President will exchange views with Prime Minister Yingluck on bilateral issues, including the Dawei deep-sea port and industrial estate in Myanmar and the planned transborder corridor link to Thailand.
His visit to Thailand will be the first after he assumed office on 30 March 2011. He previously paid an official visit to Thailand in 2008 in his capacity as Prime Minister of Myanmar.
Representing the Government to receive the Myanmar President at Don Mueang Airport upon his arrival at 11:05 a.m. on 22 July will be Deputy Prime Minister General Yuthasak Sasiprapha. The Myanmar President will visit the Laem Chabang deep-sea port in Chon Buri in the afternoon on the same day. He will hold talks with Prime Minister Yingluck on 23 July at Government House, where they will witness the signing of memorandums of understanding between Thailand and Myanmar.
Thailand shares a long 2,401-kilometer stretch of border with Myanmar. The two countries have close cooperation in many areas, especially narcotics control, anti-human trafficking, and public health. They will celebrate the 65 years of their diplomatic ties in 2013. Thailand joined other ASEAN partners in calling for the lifting of all sanctions on Myanmar. It also supported Myanmar in its reforms and development efforts for the benefit of Myanmar people and the region as a whole.
In terms of economy, Thailand is now Myanmar’s second largest trading partner after China. Bilateral trade in 2011 amounted to 6.1 billion US dollars, an increase of 25 percent over that of the previous year. Border trade accounted for 80 percent of the total trade value between the two countries.
During the first five months of 2012, the two-way trade was valued at almost 2.5 billion dollars, representing an increase of 7 percent over that of the same period last year. Thailand is also the second largest foreign investor in Myanmar after China. Its investment projects in Myanmar involve mainly in energy development, fisheries, and livestock projects. Myanmar has also invited Thai business people to invest more there.
Concerning cooperation in development, Thailand has offered technical assistance by providing scholarships to Myanmar personnel in the fields of agriculture, education, and public health. In preparation for Myanmar to assume the chairmanship of ASEAN in 2014, Thailand has provided Myanmar with assistance in capacity-building, infrastructure development, economic reform, and alternative development.
The visit of the Myanmar President to Thailand will afford a good opportunity for both countries to further strengthen ties of friendship and enhance cooperation, particularly in support of Myanmar’s ongoing economic reform and development efforts.