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Burma is aiming to become an Asia marine hub, Asia News

Since the ASEAN states are prioritizing the improvement of interconnectivity inside and outside the area, Myanmar has plans to use its position between the two most populous economies - China and India - to become a hub of sea trading in Asia, the transportation agencies say. At the Fifteenth ASEAN Port and Shipment Conference in 2017, Kyaw Myo, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for transportation and communication, said that the port and marine industries will be a driver for Myanmar's economic-integrations.

"Myanmar's traffic infra-structure has bottomed out of the Asia benchmarks due to many years of underinvestment. It is now the right moment to make effective and systematic improvements to our traffic infrastructures through cooperation at both national and European level," he said. Mr Kyaw Myo said that proper mobility could help intra-regional commerce and prosperity, narrow differences in levels of regionally diverse developments and reinforce ties and integrate between ASEAN states.

"He said our authorities recognise that traffic is one of the core industries for our domestic economies and that our country's sustained expansion is dependent on the creation of an effective and integral transportation system in which port evolution is a vital part. Myanmar Port Authority (MPA) CEO Ni Aung said that sea trading remains vital to the country's offer to stimulate its economies.

The Regulatory Authority has stepped up its activities to foster closer relations with local and overseas harbours and port related organisations in order to find ways for more advantageous cooperation. The Council invited to highlight the multi-dimensionality of marine issues such as environmental safety, safety, navigational and other safety-related issues.

"We as a Member State are participating in ASEAN efforts to accelerate regional economy in terms of prosperity, as well as in terms of increasing the pace of regional prosperity, societal advancement and culture by working together to reinforce the basis for a thriving and tranquil society by enhancing all facets of transport," he stressed, underlining the importance of port developments.

Today Myanmar has nine harbours, which are mainly used for sea trading and trading along the coast. And Yangon harbor is the most important gate to sea trading and handles around 95 percent of exports and imports. There are two major areas - Yangon Inner Harbor Terminal and the external Thilawa Harbor, which is 16 kilometers from Yangon's city.

Myo-Nyein Aye, MPA' s vice general director, said that sea transport serves more than 85 percent of the nation's commerce. "Geographical networking is the cornerstone of our future as multinationals look for new opportunities throughout the area. Thanks to our strategically located position linking major business areas, we believe we will become a new center of Southeast Asia," he said.

"Since Yangon Port's sea freight transport has grown significantly in recent years, further terminal and facility developments have taken place in the Yangon and Thilawa areas. "Yangon Harbours can now host 36 ships simultaneously - 26 ships in Yangon Inner Harbor Terminal and 10 in the Thilawa area.

Currently 46 ships of 20 Yangon containership companies use Yangon harbours for direct trade with 10 different destinations - Singapore, Malaysia, Iran, India, China, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Thailand. The Regulatory Authority has created a good working climate for harbour industry investment and has monitored and facilitated the operation of all Myanmar's harbours, according to the MFA.

Since 1998, privately owned investments have been permitted in Myanmar's harbor industries. 37 sites on the water ('15 ha in total) in the shape of a building, operating and transferring (BOT) system and jointventures were awarded for the construction of harbours. Myanmar, he said, will promote both the involvement of the civil society and cooperation with IFAs.

Said that international funding and national developments such as the Dawei SEZ would boost Myanmar's harbour expansion to a high degree.

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