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MICE: Thailand, Myanmar forge 'landmark' cooperation agreement

THE THAILAND Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) is teaming up with Myanmar's largest business association to hold trade shows and related events in both countries, as Myanmar continues its rapid opening to international business.

TCEB and the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) recently signed a comprehensive memorandum of understanding at a ceremony in Yangon to improve and expand their meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) industries.

Both sides referred to the MoU as a landmark partnership between Thailand and Myanmar.

"TCEB is a large organisation and has [more] advanced knowledge in this area than us. It is organising exhibitions in many countries. Together, we will cooperate to promote trade.

We'll also work together in renovating and maintaining facilities so that Myanmar can be like Thailand," said Myo Thet, vice president of UMFCCI.

Myanmar is now holding more than 60 business and commodity exhibitions a year, but shortages of proper venues are hindering the full potential, he said.

TCEB president Nopparat Maythaveekulchai said: "As the Thai government's official flagship body for the MICE sector, TCEB's mission is to support connections and linkages through meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions.

"This bilateral collaboration truly represents a deeper interaction within our respective MICE industries, which will yield profound results in both our countries," he said. He added that the bilateral relationship between Thailand and Myanmar was very productive. The Kingdom is Myanmar's second-largest trading partner, and bilateral trade reached US$7.82 billion (Bt250 billion) last year, up 15 per cent from 2012.

"TCEB will do our best to improve and expand trade promotion and the MICE industry in many ways, which includes encouraging public- and private-sector delegations and missions, to deepen engagement and expand collaboration in preparation for the AEC integration in 2015," he said, referring to the Asean Economic Cooperation pact.

The new deal falls under the framework of the Joint Trade Commission formed in 2012. TCEB's first ever roadshow in Yangon in partnership with UMFCCI was held in May 2013, helping to accelerate the growth of Myanmar MICE visitors to Thailand, especially in the meetings and conventions sectors, officials said.

Moreover, Thailand's bustling exhibitions sector also serves as a trading marketplace and responds to the growing industries in Myanmar in various sectors, including food and agriculture, hospitality and services, medical and healthcare services, and machinery.

Last year, 7,101 visitors from Myanmar experienced the strength of Thailand's MICE industry, injecting more than $24.9 million into Thai economy.

The achievement demonstrates that the relationship has the potential to prepare the two countries ahead of the AEC. In an AEC environment, the MICE industry has the potential to operate as a catalyst, boosting all sectors. "TCEB and UMFCCI are united and share our goal in developing the MICE industry with mutual understanding and friendship through enhanced human, cultural and economic exchange," Nopparat said.

"We are committed to creating long-term competitiveness and sustainability for our service sectors in the international arena, and we both passionately believe that the best way to do this is jointly to promote and enhance cooperation in the MICE industry, especially through the strength of Thailand's MICE industry, including diversity of destinations, unrivalled business opportunities, and high-quality professionals and industry standards."

In building a strategic network of Asean partnerships, TCEB tries to nurture connections between Asean businesses and their counterparts as part of the Asean MICE Collaboration project.

From Vietnam (Vietrade and Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry), to the Philippines (Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries and Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Islands), to Indonesia (Directorate-General for National Export Development) and Laos (Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry), Myanmar businesses join a growing partner network through this MoU, as a strategic part to drive the region through trade and investment, officials said.

Last year, Thailand drew 1,013,502 MICE visitors, with receipts totalling $2.94 billion. This year, it is expected that Thailand will see 888,210 international MICE visitors, generating revenue of $2.90 billion.


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