Business

Singapore and Myanmar ties to improve

Myanmar state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi here for official visit

Singapore and Myanmar will begin discussions on a bilateral investment treaty and avoidance of double taxation, in a sign of growing economic ties between the two countries.

This move will send a positive signal to investors and boost economic growth, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

Mr Lee made the announcement at a dinner that he hosted for Myanmar state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, who is here on an official visit until tomorrow.

Both leaders, in toast speeches at the official dinner in the Istana's ballroom, talked about bilateral ties.

Mr Lee said Singapore has been a long-standing and steadfast friend of Myanmar, and is confident of Myanmar's long-term success.

This confidence can be seen in their strong economic ties and growing trade and investment in Myanmar, he added.

Links between the two countries' people are also strong and growing, and are set to increase with the mutual lifting of visa requirements today.

Singapore is glad to help Myanmar train its officials, and is also happy to share its experience in building and running hawker centres, said Mr Lee, who visited Myanmar in June.

Myanmar is looking to upgrade its wet markets and build a hawker centre in Yangon, and Ms Suu Kyi will visit a hawker centre here tomorrow.

"We are happy to share our experience and persuade our hawkers to divulge some of their secret recipes of chwee kueh, chye tow kueh, chicken rice and laksa," Mr Lee said with a laugh.

BUSINESS COMMUNITY

Earlier, Ms Suu Kyi said Myanmar is looking to Singapore and the business community to help the country.

"Politics and business cannot be separated, particularly at this time when we are trying to make our country not just united, but prosperous," she said.

"Unless we can maintain peace, we cannot maintain prosperity. For that, we look to you to advise us, and to make our country vibrant not just politically but economically."

In her 10-minute speech, she recounted that at the beginning of Singapore's independence, Singapore's former minister mentor Lee Kuan Yew had said that in 20 years' time, Singapore will have caught up with Myanmar.

"I think we have to change that a bit - in 20 years' time, Myanmar will have overtaken Singapore," she said with a smile.

"I hope you will help us to do that, because success in one part of the region, means success throughout the region, and we have never found it difficult to engage with Singapore economically."

She also thanked Singapore for the "informal education that you have provided for many of our people, who have been working here for the last few decades".

She added that she was struck by the enthusiasm of the Burmese community here, who went to great lengths to cast their vote in Myanmar.

"It was the sense of responsibility that... pushed them to vote. Working in Singapore seems to have given them a sense of responsibility, and the initiative to get what they want for themselves."

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