Myanmar and Germany saw fortified economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries in 2013 encouraged by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelles’ visit to Myanmar in 2012.
During 2013, the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) signed an agreement with its Myanmar counterpart, the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), to open its representative office in Yangon.
GCCI became the first such business representative office from Europe to open in Myanmar and the new office is expected to support Myanmar’s efforts to finalise the draft of a small and medium enterprises (SME) law.
The move is also aimed at helping German companies starting business in the recently-opened country, connecting them with Myanmar partners. GCCI also offers Myanmar firms a forum to discuss any difficulties they may have in working with them.
German companies have also shown interest in Myanmar’s infrastructure projects including railways and electricity supply as well as consumer products and automotive industry. Myanmar has also seen German companies starting tourism businesses in a bid to tap the burgeoning tourism market here.
In the fiscal year 2012-13, bilateral trade between Myanmar and Germany amounted to $187.53 million of which Germany’s import from Myanmar totalled $42.98 million, according to official figures.
Germany’s investment in the Southeast Asian nation amounted to $17.5 million as of July last year.
In the cultural and educational sector, Germany’s Goethe Institute is to open in Myanmar to introduce initiatives for bilateral cultural, educational cooperation and to conduct language proficiency courses.
The institute will work for Myanmar-Germany cooperation in promoting sports sector through mutual exchange, conduct courses for youths and seminars on German language, send Myanmar scholars to Germany, cultural exchange of musicians and cultural troupes and media exchange. The Goethe Institute has opened about 150 branches in 95 countries, offering Germany’s culture and arts and conducting paper-reading sessions on German culture. German scholarship programs for Myanmar students are also planned for 2014.
Germany has also announced resuming full-scale development aids to Myanmar following EU’s sanction lapse against Myanmar. Germany is currently the second-largest donor to Myanmar after Japan.