YANGON, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) and Myanmar have vowed to build strong partnership and voiced commitment to pushing forward reform in Myanmar.
The pledge was made in a joint statement of the EU-Myanmar Task Force meeting which ended in Nay Pyi Taw over the weekend.
EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and Myanmar Minister at the President's Office U Soe Thane also pledged to work together for a democratic and prosperous Myanmar, looking together with confidence to the 2015 general election as an important milestone on road toward the realization of the vision.
Inaugurated by Myanmar President U Thein Sein, the first plenary session of the EU-Myanmar task force comprised three sub- sessions, namely task force economic session, inter-parliamentary session and task force political session, respectively co-chaired by Ashton who is also vice president of the European Commission, Myanmar Parliament Speaker U Shwe Mann and two Ministers at the President's Office U Soe Thane and U Aung Min.
The task force agreed to launch an EU-Myanmar human rights dialogue early next year and establish an EU-Myanmar Business Council to advise the government on ways to facilitate business links.
The task force meeting was signified by the signing of a package of accords on cooperation covering those on holding policy dialogue on small and medium enterprises, and raw materials, cooperation in the field of sustainable tourist, joint statement on EU's development assistance, cooperation between European investment bank and Myanmar, and cooperation in agriculture.
The EU-Myanmar Task Force was established in March when Myanmar President U Thein Sein paid a milestone visit to Brussels.
Attached with the task force meeting were three EU-Myanmar forums which were held in Yangon a day earlier. They were business forum, democratic civil society forum and development forum.
Attended by over 100 EU businessmen together with Myanmar counterparts and civil societies, the forums were respectively co- chaired by Ashton, U Soe Thane and Chairperson of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) Aung San Suu Kyi.
According to the European Commission, EU will increase its aid of up to 120 million U.S.dollars per year for Myanmar's rural development, education, governance and peace building.
A small and medium enterprise program was also launched aimed at promoting and supporting sustainable production of Myanmar garments.
The EU has provided development assistance to Myanmar since 1996 with over 400 million U.S. dollars. Following the political opening up of the country, the commission announced a package of support of 200 million dollar for the fiscal year 2012-13 to be spent in the sectors of health, education and livelihood.
In April this year, EU announced in Luxembourg total lifting of sanctions against Myanmar with the exception of arms embargo. In June, the EU readmitted Myanmar to its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), allowing it to benefit from lower duties on export.
According to official figures, EU's investment in Myanmar from Britain, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Denmark and Cyprus amounted to about 3.855 billion U.S. dollars as of July 2013.
Bilateral trade between Myanmar and EU reached 226.37 million dollars in 2012 of which Myanmar's export to EU amounted to 43.54 million dollars while its import from EU stood at 182.83 million dollars.
Myanmar, EU embark on full cooperation after sanction removal
YANGON, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar President U Thein Sein has vowed to make full cooperation with the European Union (EU) following the latter's total lifting of sanctions on Myanmar.
Meeting with an EU delegation led by Ambassador David Lipman in Nay Pyi Taw over the last two days, U Thein Sein thanked Lipman for ILO's relaxation, reinstatement of Generalized System of Preference (GSP) and opening of EU office in Myanmar. Full story