08 Jun 2016 Visa exemption between Singapore, Myanmar to kick in end-2016

The announcement comes as Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong kicks off his three-day official visit to Myanmar.

NAY PYI DAW: Come Dec 1, Singapore and Myanmar residents will not need visas to enter each other’s country for visits of up to 30 days.

The announcement was made on the first day of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s official visit to Myanmar which kicked off on Tuesday (Jun 7).

Mr Lee is the first head of government to visit Myanmar after a new administration led by Aung San Suu Kyi took office about two months ago, and was given a red carpet welcome.

During his meeting with Myanmar’s President Htin Kyaw and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Mr Lee congratulated both on the country’s successful elections last November.

The leaders also highlighted the strong bilateral relations between the two, as Singapore and Myanmar commemorate their golden anniversary of diplomatic ties.

Other issues discussed include how to strengthen economic ties by updating the Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement and potentially starting discussions for a Bilateral Investment Treaty. Both sides also talked about how to spur tourist flows between Singapore and Myanmar, in light of greater air links built between the two.

On supporting Myanmar’s development, Prime Minister Lee updated Ms Suu Kyi on the progress of the Singapore-Myanmar Vocational Training Institute located in Yangon. The institute, which trains about 800 students annually in areas like hospitality and tourism, engineering and electronics, started operations late last year. It offers 10 courses, each lasting six months.

The first batch of about 400 students graduated last month. Top graduates of the institute will be offered internships in Singapore.

 

MYANMAR AN OLD FRIEND, IMPORTANT PARTNER: PM LEE

At a dinner hosted by Myanmar, Mr Lee said that the country has a significant role to play in the ASEAN regional grouping.

Addressing about 50 ministers and senior government officials, Mr Lee called Myanmar an old friend and an important partner. He added that as Myanmar transitions to democracy, Singapore has been there every step of the way over the last decade.

Mr Lee noted Myanmar’s progress in political and economic development. He said he understands that nation-building is now Myanmar’s priority, but pointed out that Myanmar also can make an important contribution to the Southeast Asian region.

Said Mr Lee: “By working together within ASEAN, Myanmar will also find value for itself, both in developing your economy and supporting your nation-building plans, but also in providing a network of friends and partners in Southeast Asia who can cooperate to further common interests, to deepen our economic integration, to give ourselves more options and to enhance our influence in the world.”

As Myanmar and Singapore look back at the last 50 years of diplomatic relations, Myanmar’s President Htin Kyaw said it is an opportunity to reflect on the challenges. He added that it is important to look ahead to new ideas and initiatives that will improve the future for all.

The Myanmar President noted: “The past has witnessed the steady and healthy growth in friendship and mutually beneficial engagement between our two countries. The bonds between us have been strengthened as we’re working together to build up our ASEAN community.

“Looking back on the past 50 years, we can say with much satisfaction that we’ve come a long way. I’m confident that through our joint efforts, we’ll be able to share a future in which we can take pride in.

“We should strive to make this relationship a seamless one. Excellency, we value our ties with Singapore, not only as a valued member of ASEAN, as a major trading partner and investor but as an old friend.”

– CNA/hs/ms

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