Breakfast talk with H.E. Kristian Schmidt, Ambassador of the European Union to Myanmar
On Thursday 3 October, EuroCham Myanmar organised a breakfast talk on European Economic Diplomacy with H.E Kristian Schmidt, EU Ambassador to Myanmar and special guest Angela Marcarino Paris, Head of Asia – Pacific Public Sector Operations at the European Investment Bank (EIB) in the presence of more than 40 country representatives of European companies in Myanmar.
The event was initiated to establish a regular consultation platform between the EU Delegation and EuroCham advocacy members.
EU Take away messages regarding the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission (IIFFM) Report:
1. The EU welcomes the report as an overall contribution to accelerate Myanmar’s transition to democracy also in the economic area.
2. The EU encourages the government to promote greater transparency in their resource management and budgeting, particularly their defence budget, and increase civilian oversight.
3. The EU encourages all Myanmar companies to act along the guiding principles of human rights and responsible business conduct, to halt donations to military affiliated conglomerates and to improve the transparency of the donation policy
4. The EU encourages international companies to conduct due diligence and promote transparency as well as to refrain from contractual relations with military affiliated conglomerates.
EU-MM Trade relations
During the first 7 months of 2019, Myanmar exports to the EU grew by 37% with Myanmar’s trade surplus continuing to grow, particularly in the garment sector, amounting to 1.5 bn Euro, whilst EU imports to MM only amounted to 388 m Euro.
There is no indication that the outgoing commission will withdraw GSP, but the monitoring process continues. Myanmar has addressed some of the concerns that the EU has pushed for, yet, there is more that could be done, especially regarding the refugee’s repatriation. The new trade commissioner to be in place in November will have to consider the Myanmar issue.
European Investment Bank Briefing
Ms. Marcarino Paris briefly introduced the EIB and its activity in Asia. These are conducted in close collaboration with other EU institutions, especially the European External Action Service (EEAS), and are aligned with the policies of the EU. In Asia, the focal points are climate change and the EU-Asia connectivity agenda. She mentions recent discussions with most ministers in Nay Pwi Taw on the necessary conditions in order for the EIB to invest. Due to the EIB’s good reputation in delivering sustainable projects, the Myanmar government welcomes the EIB’s investments. During the coming years the three areas of engagement will be “Rails roads” (refurbishment of existing train lines) “Renewable energy” and “Rural development” (electrification and roads). All projects go through an international competitive tendering process with all EU businesses being encouraged to submit their bids. The EIB looks particularly at sectors where EU companies have a competitive edge (e.g. renewable energy and transport). The fact that more than half of the tenders in these sectors are won by European businesses shows Europe’s continued competitiveness.
Ambassador Schmidt underlined the importance of the EIB in becoming a green bank, using the leverage of its loans to support green and sustainable projects in strategic sectors in Myanmar, such as renewable energy, transport and connectivity, all sectors in which EU businesses can contribute. The EU strongly advocates for a sustainable energy mix in Myanmar. Ambassador Schmidt sent a letter supported by EuroCham Energy AG’s Position Paper to the State Counsellor in support of a sustainable energy mix, warning of the risks of reintroducing coal as a major source of energy. The resources of the EU Delegation together with the loans managed by the EIB and the know-how of European businesses can offer support that are highly welcomed by the Union government.
Lastly, the co-chairs of EuroCham’s Advocacy Groups presented the EU Ambassador with an update on the current state of affairs in their respective sectors and were given the opportunity to ask questions to the Ambassador. EuroCham Myanmar has the following Advocacy Groups:
Agro-Business Advocacy Group chaired by Ms. Esther Wintraecken.
Anti-Illicit Trade Advocacy Group chaired by Ms. Khine Wai Thwe and Mr. Fabian Lorentz
Automotive Advocacy Group chaired by Mr. Chan Mya and Mr. Temmy Wiradjaja
Construction Advocacy Group chaired by Mr. Aritz Izura and Mr. Vadim Nunez Pawlowsky
Digital Innovation Advocacy Group chaired by Mr. Erwin Sikma and Ms. Rianne Roggema
Energy Advocacy Group chaired by Mr. Romaric Roignan
Garment Advocacy Group chaired by Mr. Tobias Fischer and Ms. Icy Liu
Health Advocacy Group chaired by Mr. Frederik Meerhoff
Legal & Tax Advocacy Group chaired by Mr. Nishant Choudhary and Mr. Alexander Bohusch
Logistics Advocacy Group chaired by Ms. Flora Pintusoontorn and Mr. Thorstein Svendsen
Wine and Spirits Advocacy group chaired by Mr. Matthieu Glorieux.
For more information regarding the many activities of the EU Delegation in Myanmar, please be referred to the website: https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/myanmar-burma_en