Friend in need: Japan offers over $500 mn loan to Myanmar

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Yangon, May 27: Japan has provided a fresh loan of about 51 billion yen ($504 million) to help Myanmar's infrastructural development projects for Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ), official sources said.

According to the notes exchanged between the visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Myanmar President U Thein Sein following their talks in Nay Pyi Taw, another loan was also provided for scholarship programs for Myanmar's human resources development and for upgrading Yangon's water supply system, reported Xinhua.

Japan also waived again the remaining 188.6 billion yen in debt owed by Myanmar, official sources Sunday cited the signed notes as saying.

Japan offers over $500 mn loan to Myanmar

As of April 2012, Myanmar owed Japan a total debt of 502.4 billion yen, of which 198.9 billion yen was turned to normal loan in January this year, while another 127.4 billion yen was written off later in January.

The two countries also issued a joint statement agreeing to lay a new foundation to further enhance bilateral ties, as well as economic and trade cooperation, and to strengthen dialogue on regional issues and security.

The statement also called for supporting Myanmar's reform, working towards mutual prosperity and enhancing people-to-people and cultural exchanges.

During Abe's visit, nine Myanmar public companies and a consortium of three Japanese firms, comprising Mitsubishi, Marubeni and Sumitomo, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on development of Myanmar's Thilawa SEZ.

According to official statistics, bilateral trade between Myanmar and Japan totaled $1.414 billion in 2012, of which Myanmar's import from Japan took $1.053 billion, while its export to the East Asian nation stood at $360.79 million.

Japan's investment in Myanmar amounted to $270.283 million as of March 2013 since Myanmar opened to such investment in late 1988, ranking the 11th in Myanmar's foreign investment line-up.

Abe is the first Japanese prime minister to have visited Myanmar in 36 years since 1977.

Abe, accompanied by business leaders from more than 30 Japanese companies, arrived in Yangon Friday on a three-day official goodwill visit to Myanmar.

Besides meeting with opposition leader and parliamentarian Aung San Suu Kyi, Abe also addressed a Myanmar-Japan business seminar at Myanmar's Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Yangon Saturday.

IANS

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