Category Archives: Nation

Bamboo Technology Park : Inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Assam in Guwahati

Mr Sarbananda Sonowal
Assam Chief Minister Mr. Sarbananda Sonowal

The North-East of India is considered a paradise abound with unique and exquisite natural resources. Recently, Bamboo Technology Park was instituted at Chaygaon in Assam with an investment of Rs. 62.28 crore.

Bamboo is an abundant and a highly valued natural resource found in the North-East of India, particularly in Assam. Its anti-erosional and renewable property makes it a multipurpose resource. Due to its varied usage, it is copiously cultivated in the homesteads, village gardens, and agricultural lands and even in the field boundaries.

While inaugurating the Bamboo Technological Park in the vicinity of Guwahati, Chief Minister of Assam, Mr. Sonowal stated, “There are hundreds of MSME’s that produces incense sticks and bamboo handicraft products. Two very large paper plants are in Assam that uses bamboo as the raw material.”

The park has been equipped with the modern Common Facility Centre for producing creative and innovative bamboo products. The facilities include vacuum pressure treatment plant, bamboo stick and resin making facility, to name a few.

The cumulative efforts of private entrepreneurs, the Assam Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC), and the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion helped in establishing the Bamboo Technology Park, with the view to ensure optimum utilization of bamboo at the commercial level.

Myanmar Caught in the Trap of Climate Change

Swati Prabhu
Doctoral Candidate, Centre for European Studies,
School of International Studies, JNU

Myanmar Climate Change

With talks about climate change and sustainable development doing the round these days, the entire global fraternity is bearing the brunt of it and Myanmar is not left alone. With nearly 75% of the country’s population depending on agriculture, threats of water shortages, drought, heat waves etc, could easily take a toll on the livelihoods of people. The country’s anatomy is peculiarly shaped in the form of a kite with a long tail that runs south along the Malay Peninsula. It is also the northernmost country in the Southeast Asian region with China situated towards the north and northeast and India to the northwest. However, the country is not untouched by the damaging effects of the changing climate and fears of the worsening environment. According to the recent Asian Development Bank (ADB) report released earlier this year, climate change could prove to be disastrous for Asia, especially for Myanmar. President Trump’s appalling decision to withdraw support from the Paris Agreement, it may appear to have caused massive repercussions on the Asian dream of curbing emissions. However, with China taking a positive stance to press ahead with emissions reduction, countries like Myanmar hope to get some positive encouragement and assistance.

Myanmar Climate Change - PagodaThe report produced by the ADB and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) makes for grim reading, should the predictions eventuate. Under a “business as usual” scenario, a 6 degree Celsius temperature rise is projected over the Asian landmass by the end of the century, with an increase as high as 8 degrees C forecasted in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and northwest China. “These increases in temperature would lead to drastic changes in the region’s weather system, agriculture and fisheries sectors, land and marine biodiversity, domestic and regional security, trade, urban development, migration, and health. Such a scenario may even pose an existential threat to some countries in the region and crush any hope of achieving sustainable and inclusive development,” the report said. In addition to this, according to the 2016 Climate Risk Index, Myanmar is the second-most vulnerable country in the world to the effects of climate change. According to the latest projections, Myanmar faces more extreme weather events as temperatures rise: more cyclones, more storms, more floods and more droughts. Before 2000, cyclones made landfall along Myanmar’s coast once every three years. Since the turn of the century, cyclones have made landfall every year.

In spite of this, the picture is not that bleak. The plethora of economic opportunities offered to the Asian countries, specifically Myanmar, is headed by a ‘firming recovery’ in the form of major industrial economies and the government’s continued reforms. As per the Myanmar Climate Change Alliance (MCCA), a joint initiative of the UN-Habitat and UNEP, Myanmar is one the fewest countries in the LDCs who take climate change seriously, especially when it comes to adaptation. Climate change is a reality which needs to be addressed urgently and Myanmar is doing relatively well in this regard. To take the issue in an optimistic manner, the country’s economy is expected to accelerate at around 7.7% in 2017 and to 8.0% in 2018, while the current account deficit will widen the imports, growing faster than the exports. The recent government effort in strengthening the legal and regulatory framework has also helped in enhancing the conducive environment for private businesses and investments, which will, in turn, drive further economic growth. Consolidating the country’s legal and regulatory framework is crucial to develop a vibrant private sector and tap Myanmar’s huge growth potential, the report says.

The link between economic opportunity and climate change is something that has to be given immediate attention by the Asian countries, especially Myanmar. The job of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by subsiding the global temperature to below 1.5 degrees Celsius is undoubtedly a herculean task but it would result in various opportunities for the international community. According to various reports released by leading media agencies, Asia has already become a leader in clean energy investment, with the lead was taken by China investing humongously in renewable energy. This raises the question of funding for climate adaptation and mitigation efforts. Myanmar is already receiving external assistance from a couple of entities, such as Global Environment Facility, the EU, and bilateral development partners. It is also said that the country will have access to future funding through the Green Climate Fund, which distributes the annual $100 billion contributions made by advanced economies, agreed at COP21 in Paris last year.

The country also offers a plethora of opportunities for investors, stakeholders and private sector involvement. Vast natural gas deposits, innumerable suitable locations for hydropower generation, and unexplored potential for solar and wind power generation are some of the key areas which would definitely attract investment in the coming years. In this regard, Myanmar’s power sector puts forward a plethora of opportunities to both foreign and local investors. According to the government reports, the installation of considerable additional capacity to the current 4,422 MW as well as the rapid construction of transmission lines are national priorities. In order to reach the objective of full national electrification until 2030, the power sector of Myanmar needs to evolve and develop in an efficient manner. The participation of both public and private sector is essential in this regard. It could also be stated that the country needs to build an effective mitigation strategy which involves not only the state but also contributions from the non-state actors, in order to procure finance and maintain coordination, at the time of financial drip.

However, the recent shift in geopolitical trends with the prominence gained by emerging economies, like China, India and Brazil certainly provides a positive push to Myanmar for constructing their economy in a sustainable way.

A Quest Like No Other: Myanmar’s Grand Peace Project

Angshuman Choudhury
Researcher & Coordinator, South East Asia Research Programme,
Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS), New Delhi

In her opening remarks at the first 21st Century Panglong Conference held on 31 August – 3 September 2016, Myanmar’s State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said something that cogently outlines the dicey act of political peacemaking:

Her words ring true across the entire board, irrespective of region, society, or polity. Peacemaking is a participatory exercise that requires real consensus between entities that are inherently or traditionally antagonistic. This makes the process not just a hugely tricky affair, but also a painstaking exercise that warrants the time, patience, and a concrete vision. Yet, the single most pivot of peacemaking is the element of trust, without which any and every political dialogue process is bound to hit a cul-de-sac.

When assessing or critically apprehending Myanmar’s peace process, one must continually recall the history, geography, and the demography of the country;135 ethnic groups, most of which do not have sustainable cultural linkages, sixty painful years of political violence, and a geographical location strategic to big power politics isn’t perhaps the best ingredients for durable peace. But, therein lies the core of the refurbished pursuit of reconciliation: it cannot, and should not, produce ‘sudden peace’, but rather the kind of peace that is well stacked, thoroughly deliberated upon, and made by the people themselves.

NLD’s Peace Machine

When Myanmar began its ambitious peace process back in 2011 under the then President, Mr. Thein Sein, a new chapter in the country’s history began. It was as if someone had pushed the ‘resume’ button after sixty long years of total pause. Since then, the landmark process has only grown in size and scope and is today one of the most complex peacemaking projects in the world. The expansion began right after October 2015 when eight Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAOs) signed the Nationwide Ceasefire Accord (NCA), an instrument drawn up by the Sein administration. With the popularly-elected government of Suu Kyi and President Htin Kyaw taking charge six months later, national reconciliation became the sine qua non of democratic transition, thus giving fresh impetus to the whole peace process.

The Suu Kyi/Kyaw administration, since taking over, has erected a massive bureaucracy of political dialogue. At the top is the super management body, the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) that is disaggregated into ‘Working Committees’ for different thematic focus areas. The UPDJC oversees the ‘Peace Commission’, the official negotiating body of the government. Another pivotal organ is the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee (JCM), which is mandated with the responsibility to ensure ceasefires are not breached and complaints related to the same reach the government.

In terms of the dialogue structure, the entire process is bifurcated into two templates: union-level and regional talks. While the former is undertaken through the biannual Union Peace Conference (UPC), also known as the 21st Century Panglong Conference (21CPC), the latter takes place through a triad of NationalLevel Dialogues based on region, ethnicity, and topic. The inputs from these local dialogues are sent to the Working Committees, subsequent to which they are taken up for deliberations at the UPC.

Suu KyiThe unique feature about Myanmar’s post-2015 dialogue process is that it is heavily federal in nature, at least on paper. This is crucial because the ultimate objective of the process of national reconciliation is to achieve a federal union, a vision that emerged right after the country’s independence in 1947 but was truncated by one decade of intense civil strife and sixty more of repressive military rule. More importantly, the union-to-state level disaggregation of the dialogue process is absolutely imperative in a country like Myanmar where there is not one single thread of demography, but rather variegated pockets of ethnic constituencies that carry a strong sense of distinct identity and unique political ambitions for their respective communities. This becomes sharper in certain ethnic quarters that are represented by powerful and heavily-armed EAOs, like the Kachins, Shans, Palaungs, and Mons. Hence, considering local opinion within the process of national reconciliation becomes indispensable for any union-level peacemaker in Burma.

Roadblocks to Peace

As the State Counsellor has stated bluntly, the road to peace is long and hard. The past one year has made it amply clear that national reconciliation is a goal that cannot be achieved through a top-down agenda. Neither can the government claim to have achieved peace through flash in the pan successes. It needs patience, understanding, and most importantly, non-coercive inducement through real political and economic incentives.

The fundamental problem in the dialogue process is structural i.e. the obligation for an EAO to sign the NCA in order to participate in talks with the government. Some EAOs prefer the other way: to participate in the talks first and then sign the NCA. This has led to the emergence of two distinct sets of negotiating parties: signatories and non-signatories. Several commentators in the past have pointed out that the eight EAOs who have signed the NCA are far less influential and powerful than the ones who haven’t signed it. The latter group includes large groups like the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), United Wa State Army (UWSA), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K). Hence, unless the government manages to get the latter on board, peace will remain a distant dream.

But, while the dialogue process has been running fairly smooth with the signatories, Naypyidaw’s engagement with the nonsignatories has hit rough waters. Till about May 2017, the government had been negotiating with only one supra-group of non-signatories i.e. the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC). However, since early 2017, this 11-member collective of opposition EAOs began to show signs of internal fissure, especially after the November 2016 attacks in the border town of Muse (Shan State) by four EAOs – KIA, TNLA, MNDAA, AA – who identified themselves under a new umbrella body called ‘Northern Alliance (NA)’. Subsequently, in February 2017, the UWSA convened a meeting of eight non-signatory EAOs in the de facto Wa capital of Pangsangh and announced the adoption of a new path for reconciliation, away from the NCA. Three months later, certain members of the Pangsangh collectively decided to remove themselves from the UNFC and follow their own path to peace under the UWSA’s leadership. This has rendered the entire dialogue process much more convoluted and time-consuming.

Moreover, despite the mammoth bureaucracy of political dialogue, the government has been unable to implement the key provisions of NCA in entirety, which has ultimately led to delayed talks and unhappy stakeholders. While the government successfully held national-level dialogues in some regional quarters, it failed to organize them in two crucial states – Rakhine and Shan. The former is represented by the Arakan National Party (ANP) and the latter, in part, by the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army-South (RCSS/SSA-S), both of which have signed the NCA. This not just resulted in ANP and RCSS questioning the government’s intent, but also a critical three-month delay in hosting the second 21CPC. RCSS/ SSA-S, in addition, has confronted intermittent offensive maneuvers from the Tatmadaw (military) in the past one year, which has spurred a new trust gap between them and the union government.

Another critical lapse in the peace process has been the lack of effective mediators from the government’s side. Several EAOs have repeatedly complained about the dearth of individuals who could suitably communicate their sentiments and demands to both the civilian government and the Tatmadaw. This has led to a regressive communication gap between the core negotiating parties, leading to sporadic ceasefire violations, mismatched agendas, and most importantly, a widening of the trust deficit between key parties. This has also resulted in the intervention of third-party negotiators – like China – who thus have been able to throttle their own vested interests into the dialogue process and gain disproportionate political leverage.

Of all obstructions in the peace process, however, the most visible has been the continued armed conflict in the north between the NA members and the Tatmadaw. Intense and continued fighting has sharpened the trust deficit between Naypyidaw and the northern groups, which are extremely pivotal to any permanent peace arrangement that Myanmar might see in the near future. The violence has also had humanitarian repercussions, with thousands rendered displaced because of the Tatmadaw’s attritional counterinsurgency campaign that focuses on cutting off the economic channels and popular support bases of recalcitrant EAOs.

The military’s relentless offensives in the frontier areas have pushed the local population to question the motives of the union government and any ‘peace’ it might attempt to impose by force. The State Counsellor has tried to address this issue by engaging with community-level stakeholders in the frontier regions, like the Kachin Baptist Organisation (KBO), to regain the lost trust.

The Way Ahead

The Myanmar of today, is by no means, the Myanmar of the dark yesteryears. The new administration, in furtherance of the Sein government, has displayed the immense political will to move towards a permanent negotiated settlement to end the civil conflict for good. The NLD led Parliament’s prioritization of the peace agenda and Suu Kyi’s design to involve a wide range of political actors and stakeholders (including international entities) are the testimony to this. New platforms for dialogue have been created and new mechanisms of political engagement established. These are significant developments for a country that was miles away from national reconciliation just a decade back.

However, much work remains to be done. An elaborate bureaucracy will remain futile, and rather counterproductive, if not backed by capacity-building, institutional training of personnel, and real participatory engagement of all stakeholders. Truth is that every single individual, in her or his own capacity, is a stakeholder in the ongoing peace process. Sixty years of continuous unrest has decisively affected the lives of the entire population. Given the diversity in political imagination and the multiplicity of identities, the union government absolutely cannot afford to keep the talk process centralized.

It has to devolve to the ground, right down to the block-level so that no stakeholder is left out. For this, the government must make sure that the national-level dialogues happen on time and in fact, the state-level dialogue channels are diversified and disaggregated.

The government must also urgently commission specialized interlocutors who have a way with not just the various EAOs, but also the army. In this case, Naypyidaw would do well by recruiting respected individuals with experience of dealing with specific ethnic quarters, like the Kachins or the Mons or the Nagas. This could bridge the trust gap between the government and the frontier populations. More crucially, Naypyidaw must ensure that there is symmetry in the agenda for peace. A dialogue process cannot be accompanied by an offensive counterinsurgency design insofar as the non-state armed groups are not stirring trouble unilaterally. In a situation otherwise, the overall space for reconciliatory dialogue would remain restricted.

Thus, Myanmar still has a long way to go before it can reach any semblance of permanent, durable peace. Having said this, the last one year stands out as a bright ray of hope for the conflict-weary people of the country who now seek constructive development and equal participation in public life, all in a collective attempt to reverse more than half a century of political, economic, social, and cultural regression

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of the editorial team of Myanmar Matters

Mr. Set Aung Returns to Myanmar Government as Deputy Minister of Planning and Finance

Mr. Set Aung returns to Myanmar Government

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi’s government has appointed Mr. Set Aung as the Deputy Minister for National Planning and Finance; inducting him in the Myanmar Government with the essential responsibility of planning for various departments and taking care of the finances when required.

Mr. Set Aung’s role in the previous administration gained primary importance for structuring a well-defined Special Economic Zone (SEZ) which bolstered the business spectrum in Myanmar. His efforts in developing the Thilawa Special Economic Zone were well received and appreciated by experts and the business community, for it facilitated the processing of investment applications, tax filing and other procedures in a freer manner, upholding the investor’s interests.

To seek his expertise and experience in re-energizing the current economic scenario, Mr. Set Aung’s appointment was approved by President U Htin Kyaw as the 2nd Deputy Minister for Planning and Finance, who would be sharing the excessive workload of the Ministry of Planning and Finance, along with Mr. Maung Maung Win.

Mr. Aung Set’s credibility and excellence are reflected in the instrumental portfolios he had been armed with – Economic Advisor to Thein Sein in 2011, Deputy Minister for National Planning and Economic Development, and Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Myanmar.

First Foreign Company Set to Build Oil and Gas Supply Base in Myanmar

Oil and Gas Supply Base

Singapore‘s MOSB Limited -Myanmar Offshore Supply Base, has been granted authorization to set up an oil and gas supply base, becoming the first overseas company to do so in the Mon State of Myanmar.

Myanmar has welcomed this project with great energy and enthusiasm as it gets approved and endorsed by the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) and the Ministry of Electricity and Energy.

With this arrangement, the oil and gas industry in Myanmar is expected to boom and impact the communities around by furnishing employment opportunities as well as aid in providing infrastructure, health and education facilities. Also, the travel time shall get substantially reduced, thereby, enhancing efficiency and productivity.

The Executive Chairman of MOSB, Mr. Leonard Oh, stated, “The planned offshore supply base would reduce the traveling time for oil and gas companies with Myanmar operations, who would otherwise have to travel to Singapore or Thailand.”

Contributing to the growth and expansion of Myanmar’s economy, MOSB’s efforts and commitment to boosting business shall involve its investment in refining the expansive and widespread infrastructure, transportation and the associated telecommunications.

U Zaw Min Oo, Village Head of Waeka Li Village, Mon State believes, “This will support the local communities by creating a lot of job opportunities, and will most definitely improve our standard of living in many different ways.”

The joint venture between Two Fish Supply Base Limited of Myanmar and 2 Fish (SG) Pte Ltd of Singapore is represented by the MOSB company, engaged in abetting the growth plans of Myanmar.

Myanmar Prioritizes Ten Areas for Investment

Ten Areas for Investment

Liberalization has long awaited the economic gates of Myanmar. With political dynamics steering towards democratization, the economy’s transition from being centrally controlled to a market-oriented one has been a laudable move.

The investment climate has been impacted most favorably, fueling the economic environment around with a sense of excitement, inspiration and unprecedented growth.

To encourage and ease the facilitation of business activities and operations, Myanmar’s new Investment Law got enacted and approved by the cabinet in the beginning of 2017. This law was originally drafted in 2013, with the aid and experience of experts and International Finance Corporation (IFC). It also endows within its ambit the details of the Foreign Investment Law drafted in 2012 and the Citizens Investment Law of 2013

The enactment of the new Investment Law and the entrepreneurial environment has led the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) to prioritize areas for investment by foreign and local businessmen.

These areas include – agriculture, livestock, fishery, export promotion, import substitution, power, logistics, education, health care, affordable housing construction and establishment of the industrial estate.

Myanmar’s untapped economic potential, along with its geographical proximity with major South-East Asian economies, with lowest population densities in the region and an abundance of the vast reservoir of natural resources makes Myanmar’s investment landscape an attractive proposition for the investors.

Myanmar could Lead Maritime Trade of Asia

Myanmar could Lead Maritime Trade of Asia

Myanmar has launched itself on the global podium, carving an aggressive and assertive entrepreneurial spirit. Its resoluteness to connect and attract foreign investment prospects to revive its strained economic model is a quite palpable post its political transition.

The Port and the Shipping Industry is being rendered as the immediate and the most significant means to integrate Myanmar with the global economy, leveraging its strategic geographical placement in between the most populous and the second most populous country in the world; India and China.

Mr. Kyaw Myo, Deputy Minister Transport and Communications, remarked at the 15th ASEAN Ports and Shipping Conference 2017, “The development of ports and shipping industry would be a driving force for Myanmar’s integration into the global economy. Myanmar’s transport infrastructure had reached the low end of the Asian benchmark due to our poorly targeted investment for many years. Now, it is time to improve our transport infrastructure effectively and systematically with regional and international cooperation.”

The boom in the transport infrastructure, its revision and the revamping of guidelines are imperative primary moves to bring about improved connectivity – intra and inter-region, which would facilitate domestic growth, and advance integrative international possibilities. Apart from strengthening and developing infrastructure, it’s enabling and empowering prospects of job creation, easier access to regions, promotion of economic trade and prosperous growth potential, the facelift of transport framework has been rendered as an important segment in accelerating Myanmar’s economy.

In the recently conducted –15th ASEAN Ports and Shipping Conference 2017, discussions pertaining to the essential role played by maritime trade to revitalize Myanmar’s economy permeated the entire conference session. The need for an efficient and well-planned connectivity mapping the regions internally is essential for foreign companies to reach effortlessly and seek new market gains and collaborations. This is being embraced as the cornerstone development in affirming Myanmar as the new and captivating hub of Southeast Asia trade.

Carving out a mutually beneficial relationship with domestic and foreign ports, while engaging in port development activities, greater stress has also been laid on peripheral facets such as security challenges, environmental impact and navigation accessibility.

The Managing Director of Myanmar Port Authority – Mr. Ni Aung exclaimed, “As a member state, we participate in ASEAN initiatives for the acceleration of economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavors to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community by improving all aspects of transportation, specifically port development.”

The Yangon port, being the chief port of seaborne trade has been controlling 95% of the maritime export and import exchanges. Moreover, with nine ports handling seaborne and coastal trade, and with the construction of advanced terminals and multiple facilities in the areas of Yangon and Thilawa, the maritime cargo traffic has effectively enhanced.

Endowed with the capacity to accommodate as many as 36 vessels at the same time, the Yangon ports are being significantly harnessed to trade directly with 10 of the major trading economies like Malaysia, Iran, India, Singapore, China, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Thailand.

“Maritime transportation has been able to serve more than 85% of the nation’s trade,” said Mr. Myo Nyein Aye, deputy manager of MPA.

This indeed has been the gamechanger in boosting Myanmar’s economic landscape, fabricating and fueling an investment-friendly environment in building and developing ports. Relentless involvement of the private sector companies and aid from international finance institutions are deemed to further the prospects. As part of the current consultations on driving commerce in the country, employment of six new inland water port terminals has been ambitiously considered, with dependence on Myanmar’s new Investment Law for funds. The new ports include four on the Ayeyarwady River and two on the Chindwin River.

These ports will ensure rapid connectivity to more and bigger markets, and provide door to door system facility while experiencing reduced transportation costs and enlarged shipping capacity. In other words, these ports have been and will be the potential economy-transformers for Myanmar, generating jobs, accentuating regional development with improvement in living standards and bridging the gaps between the haves and have-nots.

Steering its course to growth, development and integration with the global economy, Myanmar’s sea and river ports have an absolute advantage of establishing Myanmar as the hub of trade in Asia.

World Bank appoints Ellen Goldstein as the new director of Myanmar, Cambodia and LAO PDR.

Miss Ellen Goldstein

Miss Ellen Goldstein has been appointed as the new director of Myanmar, Cambodia and Lao PDR by the World Bank. Miss Goldstein’s efforts in promoting peace, prosperity and ending extreme poverty would require her to foster partnerships and deepen relationships with client countries while strengthening economic reforms, to fulfill the roles and responsibilities of her position.

Miss Goldstein is a dual Master degree holder in International Economics and Development Studies from Princeton University, and in International Health and Population Dynamics from John Hopkin’s University.

She has held several meritorious positions prior to this recent appointment. These include – Director for the Western Balkans and Central Asia Region, Director for Bangladesh and Nepal. She has been associated with the World Bank for more than 30 years and has discharged key responsibilities.

Map of Myanmar

With Myanmar liberalizing its economy, welcoming global resources and aggressively connecting with global networks, the World Bank, in placing a Director in Yangon for the first time, has exhibited its deep, engaging interest in Myanmar’s transition to a market-oriented economy.

Miss Goldstein remarked, “I am honored to have been appointed to represent the World Bank in Myanmar, Cambodia and Lao PDR, and look forward to better understanding their unique histories and development paths.”
“Most recently, Myanmar, Cambodia and Lao PDR have seen the fastest economic growth in East Asia. Through our partnership strategy in each country, the World Bank will continue to support inclusive growth that benefits the poor,” stated Miss Goldstein.

With the US $ 2.17 committed by the World Bank in supporting more than 40 active projects in these countries, the World Bank’s inclusive growth mission to benefit the impoverished by providing access to health, nutrition and education facilities, is an integral part of these projects.

Ms. Suu Kyi says peace conference agreements are a significant step

Ms. Suu Kyi

At the closing ceremony of the second 21st Century Panglong in Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s State Counselor Ms. Suu Kyi said that these negotiations mark a significant step toward future democratic federalism in Myanmar. Even though these meetings saw some disagreements among the Myanmar Government, the political parties, the Tatmadaw and the ethnic armed organizations, the members of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) are optimistic. UPDJC was the organizer of this event and it feels that the conference achieved its aims to some extent.

During this event, the chairperson of the UPDJC Daw Aung San Suu Kyi participated in negotiating the key terms of the federal principles, such as those concerning secession from the Union and equality between the Tatmadaw and the ethnic armed organizations. She stated: “The agreements that we have been able to sign today mark a significant step on our path toward peace, national reconciliation, and the emergence of a democratic federal Union. Reaching these agreements has not been easy; we have encountered moments of disappointment as well as inspiration along the way.”

She said that the foundations for democracy and federalism for future generations have been laid through dialogue.“Yet I am greatly encouraged that despite our many different views and perspectives, we have been able, through frank discussion and negotiation, to reach common positions,” she further added. After the negotiations, stakeholder representatives from the government, Parliament, the Burma Army, political parties, and ethnic armed groups who were signatories to the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) agreed to 37 of 41 basic federal principles and signed part 1 of the Union Accord. However, key principles regarding equality, self-determination and federalism have not yet been included in the accord, and further discussion would continue in this regard.

Northern Alliance establishes a new negotiating body to meet with Government


The four Northern Alliance members announced they will no longer meet with the government separately but only jointly through a committee. This new committee was formed at Pangkham during a summit from April 15-19. The decision was taken after a meeting that was held at the Wa Army’s summit. The committee is named The Union Political Dialogue Negotiation Committee (UPDNC) and it includes seven ethnic armed organizations. It was formed when The Shan State Army (SSA), the National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA) and the UWSA joined the original four alliance groups which include the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Arakan Army (AA), the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA).

United WA State Army Flag
United WA State Army Flag

UWSA leader Mr. BaoYouxiang urged the ethnic armed organizations to cooperate and find strength in unity. He told the attending groups that ethnic groups have formed many political alliances in the past but they all disappeared due to a lack of common political direction.The government’s peace commission had been planning on meeting with the TNLA, the AA and the MNDAA before Thingyan, but the meeting has not yet taken place. All previous attempts by the Government to meet the Northern Alliance groups individually have also failed.