Canada has announced it will open a new embassy in Burma, only days following the U.S. decision to lift investment sanctions. Canada has never had an embassy in Burma.
Announcing the new embassy from Thailand, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, on a two-week tour of Asian countries, noted that Burma has a full embassy in Ottawa.
The decision to create an embassy marks a more vigorous involvement in the country’s future, as Western nations line up to consider investments in the poverty-ridden nation.
The new Canadian embassy “will work to support Canadian commercial interests and investment in Burma,” said an official.
In April, Canada suspended most of its prohibitions on trade and investment in recognition of Burma's recent reforms. In March, Baird became the first Canadian foreign minister to make an official visit to Burma.
He acknowledged that much work remains to be done in Burma.
“Although the Burmese government has taken positive steps to improve human rights and democracy over the past year, we continue to urge more progress on reforms,” he said. “Obviously although they've taken some very positive steps, there's more progress required.”
On the Canada.com website, Tin Maung Htoo, executive director of the Canadian Friends of Burma, said Canada’s investments in Burma can help bring his country out of poverty, if they are made wisely.
“But to me, only focusing on natural resource areas is not wise,” he said. “In Burma, there are many other areas where you can do business.”
The Canadian move comes days after the arrival of a new US ambassador to Burma, Derek Mitchell, the first U.S. ambassador to the country since 1990.