Friday, April 13, 2012

PM Cameron Brings Business To Malaysia & Myanmar

(CNN) -- British Prime Minister David Cameron will arrive in Myanmar Friday accompanied by a delegation of 10 business leaders -- a measure of how quickly the once reclusive Southeast Asian country is reengaging with the world both diplomatically and economically. The delegation will be presented as "tourists" to circumvent restrictions imposed by European Union trade sanctions, according to Britain's Guardian newspaper.

"It is not a trade mission. We are going to Burma for reasons of geography and the recent elections, which led to a positive outcome," a source from the British government reportedly told the newspaper.

"The government policy on Burma is to discourage trade. That remains the case. Around ten members of the business delegation will come to Burma. They will have a cultural program. They will be like tourists."

The move is controversial since Britain still publicly backs EU sanctions which have held against the military-backed government since 1996. Cameron's visit is the first by a major Western leader since a 1962 coup began a half century of military rule.

U.S. to ease Myanmar sanctions, open relations

Western firms, meanwhile, are vying to be among the first to do business in Myanmar once sanctions are lifted.

Competitors from China, India, Japan, Thailand and South Korea are already well entrenched, tapping resources such as oil and natural gas, as well as sizeable deposits of coal, nickel ore and gemstones. Myanmar also stands to be a substantial exporter of lumber and rice.

Cameron is currently touring Southeast Asia -- including Malaysia and Indonesia -- with a delegation of 35 business leaders from companies such as Shell, BAE Systems and the world's biggest miner, BHP Billiton.

The peaceful freedom fighter

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