PHL, Myanmar ink pacts to boost relations

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III and visiting Myanmar President Thein Sein agreed Thursday to further improve the relations of the two countries as several agreements were signed.

Aquino welcomed in Malacañang the Myanmar leader who is on his three-day state visit here upon his invitation.

During his bilateral meeting, Aquino said he and his counterpart discussed the historic developments in Myanmar under Sein's leadership, particularly the democratic and economic reforms that he has instituted.

The reforms in Myanmar include the holding of free elections, the release of political prisoners, dialogue with the opposition, the expansion of political rights, and the promulgation of new economic laws such as the new Foreign Investment Law.

"The Philippines supports these initiatives and has offered assistance on capacity building through technical cooperation," Aquino said.

Specifically, the President said he offered technical assistance to the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC), as well as training courses to relevant agencies on entrepreneurship, culture, ecotourism, culinary arts, agriculture and fisheries, food processing and preservation, and gender issues.

He also said that they shared experiences on the peace process within their individual nations.

"To further our defense cooperation, I have appointed a resident defense attaché to Myanmar," Aquino said.

The two leaders also witnessed the signing of six agreements on agriculture, foreign affairs, energy, and trade and investments.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and his counterpart Minister for Foreign Affairs U Wunna Maung Lwin signed the visa exemption for holders of ordinary passports.

The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) grants a no-visa entry to Filipino nationals holding ordinary passports for stays in Myanmar not exceeding 14 days. Myanmar nationals may already enter the Philippines without a visa for up to 30 days under Executive Order 408.

Agriculture Secretary Porceso Alcala and Myanmar Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation U Myint Hlaing inked the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Irrigation on Food Security and Agricultural Cooperation.

The MOU establishes a general framework for bilateral cooperation in the field of food security and agriculture. It provides for the promotion of investments through joint venture arrangements.

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla and Minister of Energy U Zayar Aung signed the MOA in the field of renewable energy.

The MOA provides for the exchange of technical expertise, joint research and development activities in renewable energy resources, information exchange and networking and other-related activities in the successful adoption of renewable energy technologies and their commercialization.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. and Deputy Minister for Information U Ye Htut inked the MOU on Information Cooperation in the field of News Exchange, Radio and Television Broadcasting, Film Industries, Public Relations, Printing and Publishing.

The MOU aims to strengthen information cooperation between the two countries. It provides for exchange of visits of journalists, cooperation between private radio and television networks, and sharing of best practices on media’s role in national development and peace process.

Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary of Trade and Investment Promotions Ponciano Manalo Jr. and Myanmar Ambassador to the Philippines U Ye Myint Aung signed the MOU for Cooperation in Trade and Investments.

The MOU calls for closer cooperation in the facilitation of investments between the Philippines and Myanmar through the dissemination of investment information and consultation with the business community, among others.

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Miguel Varela and the president of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce U Win Aung inked an MOA which calls for the exchange of information and the establishment of business contacts between the Chambers of Commerce of both countries through the organization of events such as conferences, seminars, study tours, exchange of trade groups and participation in trade fairs.

The two leaders also witnessed the exchange of notes between Del Rosario and Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr. Myat Myat Ohn Khin on the turnover of the Myanmar donation to the Philippines.

Aquino thanked his counterpart for Myanmar's donation of $100,000 in humanitarian aid and relief goods for those affected by typhoon Yolanda.

Sein will fly to Cebu to show support for the Philippines' relief efforts and he will bring with him a team of doctors and two tons of relief goods.

Aquino also expressed confidence and support to Myanmar’s Chairmanship of ASEAN next year and its hosting of the 27th Southeast Asian Games this month.

"We look forward to an even stronger relationship with Myanmar, as we prepare for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations in 2016," he said.

For his part, Sein cited not only the growing cooperation in bilateral relations of the two countries, but also in the regional and international fora.

"I am convinced that this growing cooperation contributes to the progress and prosperity of the peoples of our two countries and of the region as a whole," he said.

He also expressed Myanmar's commitment to best serve the will and wishes of its people as it undergoes transition towards democracy.

"As such, we are endeavoring to achieve peace, stability and economic development as they are the two main wishes of our people. In doing so, we are making engagements with the internal political forces,' he said.

Sein also said that his government has offered peace talks to the ethnic armed groups in the country to achieve national reconciliation.

"All these efforts resulted in creating an environment of political stability and rule of law. At the same time, Government has also been creating opportunities for good economic environment and foreign direct investment," he said.

Aquino hosted a luncheon for Sein and the members of his delegation. (SDR/Sunnex)

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