New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) has signed a trade agreement with the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce (UMFCCI) as part of its effort to forge closer economic ties with Southeast Asian countries.
An official in the TAITRA office in Bangkok told Mizzima on Monday that the TAITRA on June 8 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on bilateral trade with the UMFCCI as part of Taiwan’s efforts to forge closer economic ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a booming economic bloc.
The MoU, according to the official, was signed during a TAITRA’s trade delegation’s visit to Burma and Cambodia.
The official, who wished not to be named, said Burma being a member of the ASEAN, which is a booming economic bloc, is of interest to Taiwan.
While the trade pact is the first official agreement, the official said, trade relations between the two countries, however, go a long way back.
“Bilateral trade relationship with Myanmar [Burma] has been existence over a long time,” said the official, adding that there are at least 200 Taiwanese-owned enterprises operating currently in Burma.
The Burmese Opposition in exile, however, said Taiwan should consider the political impact of having a trade relationship with military-ruled Burma before signing any trade pacts.
Nyo Ohn Myint, in-charge of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National League for Democracy-Liberated Area (NLD-LA) in exile said it is not for Taiwan to seek only economic benefits, instead of supporting the movement for the restoration of democracy in Burma.
“They [Taiwan] should not do it. Their investment only benefits the military government, their family members and their cronies but not the people,” said Nyo Ohn Myint.
He said Taiwan’s ruling Chinese Nationalist Party-Kuomintang (KMT) is emphasizing on economic development and is building political relationship with the other country based on it.
He said, even before this MoU, there has been ongoing trade between the two countries because Taiwan wants to build a good relationship with China so it is also building a good relationship with China’s ally - Burma.
“There are a lot of Taiwanese living in Burma and I think they lead this trade agreement,” said Nyo Ohn Myint, adding that they should be more careful of the impact of the trade relations rather than focusing on economic gains.
Burma, in support to the one-China policy, has had no diplomatic relationship with Taiwan.