Monday, February 18, 2013

Canada furthers moves toward Myanmar


Monday, 18 February 2013 13:25 Rosie Gogan-Keogh

A Canadian delegation arrived in Myanmar on February 16 as part of an ongoing process of reengagement between the two countries.

Canadian Parliamentary Secretary Deepak Obhrai. (Photo:

The multi-party delegation, headed by the Canadian Parliamentary Secretary Deepak Obhrai, will meet with representatives from the Myanmar government during their six-day visit to the country.

On March 8, 2012, John Baird became the first Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister to visit Myanmar.

Ahead of this latest visit Baird said, “When I visited Burma [Myanmar] last March, I proposed this type of exchange so Canada could share with Burmese reform leaders our experiences and perspectives on good parliamentary practices. There is very little parliamentary tradition in Burma [Myanmar], and if a functioning legislature and multi-party electoral system are to flourish, there's real value to this type of practical interaction.”

In 2007, Canada imposed trade sanctions on Myanmar; before then, several large Canadian companies conducted business in the country—notably, Ivanhoe whose mining interest was purchased by China North Industries Corporation, or NORINCO, in 2010.

On April 24, 2012, Canada lifted a significant amount of sanctions. Still in place are prohibitions on weapons sales and sanctions targeting specifically listed individuals and organizations.

To further encourage business between the countries, the Myanmar government announced business visas on arrival for Canadian citizens on February 1.

“We welcome this decision to offer Canadian business people visas upon their arrival in Burma [Myanmar], which will help grow our commercial presence there,” said the Canadian Minister of International Trade, Ed Fast. “I raised this issue with Burma’s leaders during my trade mission last year, and I am pleased to report today that progress has been made. This is good news for Canadian business people, and it will facilitate the continued deepening of our trading relationship with Burma, contributing to jobs, growth and long-term prosperity in both countries.”

Canadian investment in Burma amounted to about US $40 million as of June 2012, according to Myanmar Investment Commission data.

The Canadian Embassy will open in Yangon later this year in a shared embassy space at the British Embassy as part of the country's cutting of $174 million from its Foreign Affairs departmental budget.

A reciprocal visit by Myanmar representatives to Canada is expected to take place later this year.

In March 2012, Canada made Aung San Suu Kyi an honorary citizen.
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