SEEKING to build on the rapid growth in trade between Taiwan and Myanmar, industry bodies from the two sides have signed two memorandums of understanding at a Taiwan-Myanmar Industrial Collaboration Summit.
Myo Thet, vice president of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), said the agreements would help boost bilateral economic ties, reflecting Taiwan’s pledge to support Myanmar with capacity building and technical assistance in core sectors including textile and food processing.
The agreements were signed at the event on Tuesday with the Chinese National Federation of Industries.
“Taiwan is very well-known for their advanced technology in agro-based food products. By using the latest technology, they manage to produce a wide range of value-added products. So, we are happy to cooperate with them,” Myo Thet.
He said technology transfer from Taiwanese counterparts is the main priority, as Myanmar plans to expand its manufacturing capacity in export-oriented sectors like garments and textiles.
Cheng-Wai Yu, deputy director general at Taiwan’s Industrial development Bureau, considers it is the right time for Taiwanese businesses to trade with Myanmar. He believes in the future of Myanmar, though it is now facing international pressures on the government’s handling of conflicts in some ethnic areas.
Chun-Fu Chang, a representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Myanmar, said both chambers have agreed to prioritise two sectors: textiles and food processing. He said the cooperation would be strengthened through a number of training programmes in the pipeline.
“We do have a very long history of cooperation. As we enter the digital era, we need to strengthen our industrial collaboration for mutual benefits. Taiwanese investors’ interest in Myanmar is also on the rise, so we need more efforts to make sure the bilateral cooperation reaches a new height,” he said.
Chau-Chyun Chang, deputy general director at the Industrial Technology Research Institute’s industrial economics and knowledge centre, said vegetables and textile products were the top two categories that Taiwan imported from Myanmar last year. Mostly, Myanmar imported machinery, mechanical and electrical products from Taiwan.
According to Myanmar’s Ministry of Commerce, the bilateral trade volume has increased five-fold over the past three years. In the 2015-16 fiscal year, the total trade volume was only US$34.1 million. It rose to $81.7 million in fiscal 2016-17, and to $189.1 million in fiscal 2017-18, ending in March.
As of June 30, 17 Taiwanese firms have been approved to invest US$42.2 million in Myanmar, according to the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration.
“We are looking to a broader cooperation with Myanmar. It will not only stimulate the industrial upgrading of Myanmar but also extend the market for Taiwan’s industry, achieving mutual benefits on a win-win basis,” said Chang.
According to Chang, Taiwan has successfully transformed itself from an agricultural society into an industrial one with incessant efforts by both the public and private sectors.
“The experience accumulated has allowed us to build up our unique industrial capacity, which we are happy to share with Myanmar,” he said.
Myint Soe, chairman of Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association, said the nation’s garment industry could yield tangible benefits from the training programmes for workers, supervisors and technical staff at factories across the country.
Than Lwin, senior consultant at KBZ Bank Ltd and a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Myanmar, also welcomed the move. He foresees more successful talks between the two sides. He expects the cooperation agreements will help Myanmar to draft a carefully crafted industrial strategy.