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Nine sectors to have priority under the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor

Myanmar is prioritising nine sectors covering infrastructure projects under the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor although more specific details as to which of the projects have been chosen remain under wraps.

These sectors, part of the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan, include electricity, road, bridge, telecommunication, basic construction, agriculture, transportation, research and technology.

Union of Myanmar Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) deputy chair U Thein Han said that the nine prioritized sectors involve partnerships between Myanmar and Chinese firms.

He was among a group of Myanmar private sector representatives who had followed government officials led by Minister for Planning and Finance U Soe Win to the second joint committee forum of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor held in Kunming, China in late February.

It has been learnt that a number of agreements “is likely” to be inked in April when the State Counselor attends a state-level conference in Beijing related to the Belt and Road Initiative.

“Many companies want to enter the market and we will connect them with the capable companies here depending on the company size. We have plans to connect companies of various sizes,” U Thein Han told The Myanmar Times.

Myanmar Times, which attempted to get comments from the Ministry of Planning and Finance, understands that Chinese and Myanmar government officials met four times in closed-door meetings in Kunming where private sector officials were not present.

Among other details from the February meeting, Chinese officials were said to have pushed for a number of projects mooted under the umbrella of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, which comes under China’s larger Belt and Road Initiative.

A memorandum of understanding was signed last September laying out the broad outline for a slew of multi-billion dollar projects including the Muse-Mandalay railroad project as well as the Kyaukpyu deep sea port and special economic zone projects.

According to a Myanma Railway official who was part of the delegation, only feasibility studies have been agreed to for the railroad project, with no definitive agreement having been signed with China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group, the company conducting the land survey.

The official said much will depend on the results, without elaborating further.

The Chinese said during discussions in the forum that they were interested in implementing the Kyaukpyu deep sea port project, which includes a link to the Muse-Mandalay railroad project.

Meanwhile, Muse Rice Wholesale Center deputy chair U Chan Tha Oo said the Myitsone dam project was also discussed in the forum as Chinese officials remain keen to revive the project suspended since September 2011.

He said China wanted to restart the project and tried to convince Myanmar private sector representatives at the meeting by referring to research conducted by their academics showing that the project is safe.

SOURCE: MYANMAR TIMES

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