By Feng Yingqiu
YANGON, July 16 (Xinhua) -- The U.S.-ASEAN Business Council vowed to work closely with the Myanmar government for long-term U. S.-Myanmar business relationship, said a press release of the council in Yangon Monday.
The release came at the conclusion of a first ever historic business mission to Myanmar of a delegation of over 70 senior executives from 38 leading U.S. companies, organized by the U.S.- ASEAN Business Council.
Alexander Feldman, President of the Council, said the development in Myanmar has opened way for American companies to do business in the country, however, adding that it is just the beginning of the process.
The delegation group, was led by the Chairs of the Council Myanmar Committee Kevin Thieneman of Caterpillar and Mariano Vela of Chevron, was joined by the most senior U.S. Government economic delegation, led by Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Robert Hormats and Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez.
As the first U.S. business delegation to visit the country after the formal suspension of sanctions and arriving only days after the arrival of the first U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar Derek Mitchell since 1990, the delegates focused on exploring the business environment and gathering information on the government economic programs, the release said, adding that as a beginning, Council member General Electric (GE) moved forward with a deal to provide medical equipment to two hospitals in Yangon.
During its Myanmar mission, the council members also met with representatives of NGOs and civil society to explore ways to invest in Myanmar.
Before the mission the Abbott Fund, the corporate foundation of Council member Abbot, announced a 1 million U.S. dollars' partnership with the Secretary of State International Fund for Women and Girls to empower women in Myanmar, the release said.
The delegation visited Myan Shwe Pi (MSP) Tractors facility in Yangon to learn from their exemplary Corporate Social Responsibility programs which include free of charge engineering apprenticeship which help their local employees develop skills and continue their education.
MSP is the authorized dealer for Caterpillar in Myanmar.
The release disclosed that companies joining the delegation included Chevron, Caterpillar, Abbott, ACE, Baker & McKenzie, Baxter, Boeing, Chartis and the Coca-Cola Company.
The U.S.-ASEAN Business Council represents over 100 major U.S. Corporations, ranging from those who have been active in Southeast Asia for over 100 years to newcomers looking to expand their presence in one of the world's most dynamic markets.
As the first deal of U.S. company, GE Healthcare's national dealer Sea Lion company signed sale and purchase agreements on supplying advanced medical equipment for two leading private hospitals in Yangon -- Bahosi and Pun Hlaing on last Saturday.
Following U.S. Treasury's relaxation of some sanctions on Myanmar to allow financial transactions to support certain humanitarian and development projects, the Obama Administration announced further easing of sanctions on Myanmar on July 11, allowing U.S. companies to do business and invest in Myanmar in the sectors including oil and gas as the first U.S. ambassador Derek Mitchell took office in Yangon on the day in 22 years.
According to Myanmar official statistics, U.S. investment in Myanmar amounted to 243.49 million U.S. dollars in 15 projects, accounting for merely 0.6 percent of the total as of March 2012 since Myanmar opened to such investment in late 1988 and standing the 9th in position in Myanmar's foreign investment line-up.
The figures also show that bilateral trade between Myanmar and the United States reached 293.64 million U.S. dollars in the fiscal year 2011-12, of which Myanmar's export to the United States amounted to 29.57 million U.S. dollars while its import from the United States stood at 264.07 million U.S. dollars.