Myanmar Regime Chief Meets Russian Trade Delegation

By The Irrawaddy 15 March 2023

Myanmar junta boss Min Aung Hlaing has met a Russian trade delegation for the second time in four months.

The delegation from Fund RC-Investments, an investment platform of the Roscongress Foundation under the direct control of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, first met Min Aung Hlaing in November last year.

On Tuesday, they met again in the capital Naypyitaw to discuss the promotion of trade and investment between the two countries, both of which are under international sanctions. Also on the agenda was Russian assistance for research on environmental conservation in Myanmar, whose ecosystems have been scarred by decades-long overexploitation of natural resources.

They also discussed Russian technical assistance to the military regime to help produce value-added forestry products, as well as surveying the feasibility of electric vehicles and subway systems in Myanmar, a long-held fantasy of the junta chief’s.

Despite a deepening power crisis in Myanmar, Min Aung Hlaing keeps importing electric vehicles from China, hundreds of which have now arrived in the country. He is also building charging stations for electric vehicles in Naypyitaw, Yangon and along the Yangon-Mandalay Highway.

The last item on the agenda was the establishment of a wood pulp factory in Myanmar with Russia’s help, according to junta-controlled media. Min Aung Hlaing signaled his plan for such a factory last month, stressing the need to cut foreign currency spending on wood pulp imported from abroad.

The Russian trade delegation was led by director Alexander Sergeevich Shatirov of the Roscongress Foundation.

The delegation also held separate meetings with six regime ministers, including communications and transport minister former Admiral Tin Aung San, natural resources and environmental conservation minister Khin Maung Yi, hotels and tourism minister U Aung Thaw, planning and finance minister U Win Shein, investment and foreign economic relations minister Dr. Kan Zaw, and cooperatives and rural development minister U Hla Moe.

Topics covered included cooperation on tourism, mining, energy, the agricultural and livestock sectors and the monetary and financial sectors.

Myanmar and Russia have been promoting trade and investment with greater urgency since President Putin and Min Aung Hlaing met for the first time in September 2022. Russian trade delegations and investors are now frequent visitors to Myanmar.

However, with the exception of the establishment of a nuclear information technology center in Yangon, there has been no tangible progress in other areas of cooperation such as direct payments between the kyat and the Russian ruble, direct flights between Russia and Myanmar and the import of fuel from Russia.

Myanmar’s powerful neighbors India and China are also both promoting trade with the junta.