YANGON – Japan may resume official development assistance to Myanmar as part of aid to countries surrounding the Mekong River, according to a document obtained by Kyodo News on Tuesday.
The document was presented to the Myanmar government and served as the basis for discussions at a two-day workshop on Japanese support for Myanmar’s economic reforms. The workshop ended Monday in Yangon.
Although assistance to Myanmar alone would be unlikely, it could be extended as part of efforts to help countries along the Mekong River to cope with deforestation, narcotics trafficking and social problems, it states.
The support — planned for Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand — is described as “region-wide basic humanitarian assistance” in the document.
The document was prepared by researchers at the Finance Ministry’s Institute of Fiscal and Monetary Policy, in cooperation with experts in Japan.
But Japan’s plan may attract criticism from the United States and European countries, which have imposed economic sanctions on Myanmar for delaying democratization and suppressing human rights. especially following the International Labor Organization’s decision earlier this month to punish the country for using forced labor.
A Foreign Ministry source said Japan believes putting Myanmar’s stagnant economy on the right path, rather than imposing sanctions, will help move democratization forward.
The document states that Yangon should improve its deficit-ridden finances, integrate its official and market exchange rates into a single rate system, and promote industrial activities through infrastructure improvements and trade liberalization.