Work on Muse-Ruili Economic Cooperation Zone to Begin Soon

By Myo Pa Pa San 20 November 2018

By Myo Pa Pa San   20 November 2018

YANGON—The first of three projected economic zones along the Myanmar-China border will be implemented soon between Shan State’s Muse and China’s Ruili, Deputy Commerce Minister U Aung Htoo said.

Under an agreement between Naypyitaw and Beijing, three “economic cooperation zones” will be established in Kachin and Shan states along the border as part of Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.

The two others will be built in Kanpiketi town, in Kachin State’s Special Region 1, which is under the control of the New Democratic Army-Kachin militia; and Chinshwehaw in Shan State’s Laukkai Township, part of the Kokang Self-Administered Zone.

The two governments have already started discussions on implementation of the economic zones, said U Aung Htoo.

“We will implement the zone between Muse and Ruili first, and China has also begun fencing off [a location in] Jiegao in China’s Yunnan Province,” the deputy minister said at a press conference on Monday.

Government officials and businessmen of the two countries are set to hold further talks at a border trade expo to be held in December in Muse.

“We’ll discuss what type of industry will be established there. Private companies that are recognized by the government will be allowed to participate. We’ll invite expressions of interest from private companies soon and examine whether they are capable or not [of developing the zones],” U Aung Htoo said.

While economic zones will boost border trade, they will also provide job opportunities for locals and more business opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises, while increasing foreign investment, he said.

Dr. Maung Maung Lay, vice president of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, was more optimistic about the zones. “They will enable Myanmar migrant workers to come back and work in their country. And we can also import technologies,” he said.

He was hopeful that Myanmar would be able to make use of Chinese technologies to produce value-added exports to address the country’s trade deficit.

“The government is cutting red tape and reviewing taxation regulations regarding trade,” Dr. Maung Maung Lay said.

The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding in May last year following State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to China in August 2016.

The joint committee for implementation of economic cooperation zones was established in April.