Bilateral trade between Thailand and Burma is expected to grow three times to US$13 billion

Bilateral trade between Thailand and Burma is expected to grow three times to US$13 billion (Bt421 billion) in 2015 from the current $4.3 billion, thanks to closer economic cooperation under the Joint Trade Commission (JTC) and the Asean Economic Community (AEC).

Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot said the JTC meeting has come up with four concrete plans to facilitate trade, tourism and investment growth.

The outcome followed the meeting between Alongkorn and Brig-General Aung Tun, Burma’s Deputy Minister of Commerce, and the private sector during the fourth JTC meeting held in Hua-Hin, Prachuab Khiri Khan, yesterday. It was the first government-level meeting in six years after they had been suspended.

Bilateral trade was worth $4.3 billion (Bt150 billion) last year, with Thai exports valued at Bt54 billion and imports of Bt96 billion.

The four agreements were:

n The two nations agreed to exchange trade information and promote growth via trade exhibitions. A Single Service Inspection will be opened at Mae Sot, Thailand, and Myawadi, the border-trade zone in Burma, to reduce duplicated customs procedure.

n They agreed to reap the benefits from the North-South and East-East corridors from the construction of the roadway linking Burma and Thailand. Both nations also agreed to set up a plan for constructing the second friendship bridge.

n Accelerated opening two more permanent border checkpoints at Huay Ton Nun, Mae Hong Son and Shan State, Dan Sing Khon, Prachuap Khiri Khan, and Myeik in Burma to boost cross-border trade.

n Open two new trading roadways called Myawadi-Moulmein, and Kanchanaburi-Tavoy, and develop a new trading roadway between Mae Hong Son and Nay Pyi Daw to facilitate logistics growth.

The joint trade committee is an efficiency mechanism to increase trade growth between Thailand and Burma.

The economic activity in 10 provinces along the border should increase significantly after the implementation of the plan, said Alongkorn.

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ASEAN new dispute rule to add pressure on Myanmar

The new ASEAN dispute settlement mechanism will increase the pressure for Myanmar to uphold its human rights commitment ahead of its upcoming election, says a commissioner for the grouping’s rights body.

Rafendi Djamin, Indonesian commissioner for the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission for Human Rights, said the dispute settlement mechanism (DSM) was an option Jakarta could resort to when the military junta refused to hold an inclusive election, which includes the opposition party leader.

The dispute settlement mechanism, which will be signed by 10 ASEAN member states in its 16th ASEAN Summit in Vietnam this month, allows members disputing the implementation of the ASEAN Charter to take in a third party to help them solve differences.

The DSM, however, does not rule on sanctions for non-compliance members.

“There have been many negotiations concerning how we should implement the ASEAN Charter, including the establishment of its human rights body and the standard of rights enforcement as mentioned in the Charter,” Rafendi said.

“Members are forced into compromising their standard level because of the differences.

“But with the new DSM, we have more options to push countries, which block the way to move forward in rights enforcement, into obedience mode,” he said.       Continue reading “ASEAN new dispute rule to add pressure on Myanmar”

Junta despatches tanks and trucks to Myitkyina


Snr-Gen Than Shwe, military leader of Burma

In what seems to be preparations to take on the armed ethnic rebel group the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) and its armed wing, Burma’s ruling junta yesterday despatched 18 tanks and dozens of military vehicles to the Northern Regional Command Headquarters in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State, said local sources.With war clouds looming in the horizon the fresh batch of tanks and trucks were sent for Burmese troops under the Northern Regional Command. It was transported from Mandalay along the Mandalay-Bhamo-Myitkyina Road, said local sources close to the Burmese Army.

Eyewitnesses told Kachin News Group today that about 150 trucks crossed to Kachin State from Mandalay. However, 97 trucks arrived in Myitkyina including 18 tanks carried in the trucks.  Over a dozen trucks and an unknown number of tanks were sent to Bhamo, said local residents.

A day after the unfruitful meeting between Naypyitaw’s negotiator Lt-Gen Ye Myint and KIO delegates in Myitkyina on the contentious Border Guard Force issue, the fresh lot of tanks and trucks were despatched to Myitkyina.

Now, the KIO has been given a fresh deadline of April 28 to respond positively to transforming the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), its armed-wing to the Burmese Army-controlled BGF by the junta, said KIO officials in Laiza headquarters in Kachin State, near the China border. Continue reading “Junta despatches tanks and trucks to Myitkyina”

Former Kachin rebel leaders advise KIO to accept BGF

In what is possibly a bid by the Burmese junta to exert pressure, leaders of former Kachin armed groups’ in a letter last week have advised the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) to accept the regime-proposed Border Guard Force because it cannot take on the Tatmadaw, said KIO officials.

082509-n-burmese-armyThe joint letter said: “The KIO cannot resist the junta alone and will buy trouble,” a KIO officer in Laiza headquarters in Burma’s northern Kachin State, near the China border told Kachin News Group today.

The letter was jointly penned by Dr. Manam Tu Ja leader of the Kachin State Progressive Party and former Vice-chairman No. 2 of KIO, Zahkung Ting Ying leader of former New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K) and Col. Lasang Awng Wa of leader of Lasang Awng Wa Peace Group, said KIO officers in Laiza.

The three pro-junta Kachin leaders said they had written the letter on their own volition without being directed by the junta.  KIO officers think otherwise and are certain that they were coerced to write the letter by the regime, said a KIO officer in Laiza.

Meanwhile, however delegates from KIO and the junta side met for the 13th time yesterday morning in the junta’s Northern Regional Command Headquarters in Myitkyina, said KIO sources.  The meeting focused on transforming the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the armed-wing of KIO to the Burmese Army-controlled BGF, added KIO officers.

The meeting was held between Lt-Gen Ye Myint, chief of Military Affairs Security (MAS) and Naypyitaw negotiator for ethnic armed groups for transforming BGF and three KIO senior leaders— KIO Chairman Lanyaw Zawng Hra, Dr. Lahkyen La Ja of General Secretary and Brig-Gen Sumlut Gun Maw of Vice Chief of Staff.

Even as parleys continue, the junta is transporting new artillery and military trucks from Mandalay to Northern Regional Command Headquarters along the Mandalay-Bhamo-Myitkyina road, said local sources.

Eyewitnesses told KNG today, they saw 92 military trucks including 18 trucks carrying artillery pieces each and four trucks carrying Burmese troops from the Light Infantry Division No. 33 based in Ywataung, Sagaing Division crossing Laja Yang Checkpoint on the Myitkyina-Bhamo route, till this noon.

A KIA officer in Laiza, near Laja Yang told KNG today, “I saw that the new artillery guns on the trucks are larger than 120 mm mortars.  It must have been received from North Korea and Russia”.

The current weapons and troops despatched to Kachin State’s military headquarters include about 150 military trucks and over 200 soldiers, said KIA’s sources.

The Burmese junta received a variety of weapons from China, India, Singapore, North Korea, Ukraine and Russia.

Given the mounting military tension in the KIO controlled areas in Kachin State and Northeast Shan State over the BGF issue, the KIO/KIA is also gearing up in its own way for war with the Burmese Army.

The military regime is propagating a rumour that we-NLD may resort to violence

NLD to abide by principles of non-violence

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The National League for Democracy (NLD) will abide by the principles of non-violence even if the party ceases to exist in keeping with the Burmese junta’s harsh electoral laws, according to Win Tin a senior leader.

“We have decided not to re-register. So, the party may not exist and be forced to go underground. The military regime is propagating a rumour that we may resort to violence. But, we will abide by the principles of non-violence,” Win Tin said.

The NLD will forge ahead with its struggle for democracy peacefully under the leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi.

The junta’s electoral laws state the deadline to re-register is May 6. Without re-registration, the party will be automatically dissolved.

Ohn Kyaing, a member of NLD’s information committee, said, “even if the party is dissolved, NLD will not abandon the people and its struggle for democracy. We will be with the people.” He continued “Although we have decided not to re-register, we will fight to the best of our ability by non-violent means. NLD is where self-sacrificing politicians gather.”

“NLD will plunge headlong into social work such as service programmes for HIV patients, social services for Nargis victims among others,” Win Tin said. Continue reading “The military regime is propagating a rumour that we-NLD may resort to violence”

crony businessman Zaw Zaw builds massive marquee for Than Shwe kin

Rangoon (Mizzima) – A construction firm owned by young crony businessman Zaw Zaw is setting up a sprawling water festival pavilion next to Inya Lake in Rangoon for Nay Shwe Thway Aung, a grandson of Senior General Than Shwe.

The pavilion, being built by Max Myanmar Construction lakeside on Pyay Road, is 500 feet (152 metres) long, almost four times the limit set by the Rangoon Peace and Development Council.

And, according to sources, the Burmese army’s Rangoon Command is handling security, the council has banned any other pavilions nearby and arranged car parking for guests of Nay Shwe Thway Aung, and a DJ has been booked.

A Rangoon City Development Committee official said the length of the pavilion would contravene festival rules and regulations set by the council, which limit central pavilions to one for each township in Rangoon, and their lengths to less than 140 feet. The stages must be no more than 60 feet wide, 25 feet long and six feet high. At both sides of the stage, the water-splashing stages must be 40 by eight by five, respectively.

Wa: Junt backed militia battalions are cannon fodder

The military junta’s establishment of militia battalions is to use them as front line forces in its military operations against ethnic ceasefire groups that may continue to resist Naypyitaw’s BGF program, according to Ta Ai Nyunt, Secretary General of the non-ceasefire Wa National Organization (WNO).

On 30 March, the military junta held ceremonies to mark the establishment of two militia units, one based along the Thai-Burma border and the other along the Sino-Burma border.

A Lahu militia unit which is based in Mongton township, which is also where the United Wa State Army (UWSA)’s 171st Military Region is active, opposite Chiangmai’s Chiangdao district, was promoted as BGF No.1007. Another militia unit which is based in Mongyu, Mongyawng Township, opposite the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA)’s 911th Brigade base, became BGF No. 1008, according to a report from the New Light of Myanmar. Continue reading “Wa: Junt backed militia battalions are cannon fodder”