UNITED NATIONS. CLOSER RECENT BUSINESS BETWEEN (SOUTH) KOREA AND MYANMAR INCLUDING GAS, OIL AND ENERGY. $100 MILLION TO KORIEA ADVANTAGE IN 2008. DOES IT EXPLAIN ANYTHING?

 

15 JULY 2009

CLOSER RECENT BUSINESS BETWEEN (SOUTH) KOREA AND MYANMAR INCLUDING GAS, OIL AND ENERGY. $100 MILLION TO KORIEA ADVANTAGE IN 2008. DOES IT EXPLAIN ANYTHING?

Just asking. Those around the world disappointed at the outcome of the disastrous visit by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to Myanmar will no doubt look for logical as well as illogical explanations. One source pointed to the recently growing business between the Republic of Korea where Mr. Ban served as Minister of Foreign Affairs until 2007 and the dictatorial government of Myanmar.

When Mr. Ban visited the Junta last year in the midst of repressive measures and international criticism, the trip was painted as a humanitarian one, to inspect how the U.N. agencies could help victims of hurricanes and natural disasters.

By the time of this year's visit end June/beginning July a number of deals had been arranged. Earlier this year, a memorandum of understanding was agreed during a five day visit to Seoul from March 29 to April 2 by Myanmar Deputy Foreign Minister Maung Myint, who had productive discussions with his Korean counterpart Lee Yong-joon. An official announcement, carried by Chinese official news agency Xinhua, indicated that "the two sides discussed and exchanged views on mutual cooperation in culture, information, human resources, DEVELOPMENT OF OIL AND GAS, labour affairs, AGRICULTURE, INDUSTRIAL AND ENERGY sectors."

The Republic of Korea, referred to in the report as ROK "has been helping Myanmar in numerous co-operation projects." Meanwhile, the Korean International Cooperation Agency, known as KOICA, planned five more projects during this year which cover the sectors of electricity, production, education, building of irrigation and health facilities and social service training. KOICA, which is the government's overseas aid agency, has been involved in several related projects "IN RECENT YEARS." For example, it funded $1.4 million for electricity, $2 million over the past 2 years for health, agriculture and railway transportation. It granted 253 more Myanmar goods as duty free imports.

"ROK" has become the 8th LARGEST TRADING PARTNER WITH MYANMAR. According to official statistics, Myanmar-ROK bilateral trade amounted to $267.27 million in 2008; Myanmar imported $180.7 million from (South) Korea while its exports to that country amounted to $80.57 million. THE BALANCE of trade last year was in favour of the Republic of Korea with over $100 MILLION.

These are facts and figures. Whether the former Foreign Minister of "ROK" is personally aware of them or not as he made his way to Yangoon, we cannot tell for sure. We would assume, however, that his very influential assistant and constant companion Mr. Kim Won-soo will be remiss in his duty if he didn't know. He is expected to be alert on such questions close to home. After all, he is still on loan from ROK's Ministry of Foreign Affairs that signed the deals.