Singapore exploring bilateral investment treaty with Myanmar, says Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan

Myanmar Foreign Minister and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan holding a joint press conference following their meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on May 18, 2016.
Myanmar Foreign Minister and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan holding a joint press conference following their meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on May 18, 2016. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Singapore is exploring the possibility of negotiating a bilateral investment treaty with Myanmar, revealed Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Wednesday (May 18) during an introductory visit to Naypyidaw.

The deal, if sealed, would give potential investors "a greater sense of assurance, security, of policy and regularity certainty", he said, adding that it would accelerate investment.

Dr Balakrishnan was speaking a joint press conference with Myanmar's State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday morning.

"We… had a short discussion about the possibility of beginning negotiations for a bilateral investment treaty," he told reporters.

Myanmar has already signed bilateral investment treaties with a few countries, including China and India.

Dr Balakrishnan's visit is part of a series of high-level exchanges to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations.

On the same trip, he is also due to meet Myanmar's armed forces commander-in-chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, as well as former Lower House speaker Shwe Mann, who now chairs an advisory panel called the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Commission for the Assessment of Legal Affairs and Special Affairs.

Last year saw a key milestone in Myanmar's transition from military to civilian rule after an election in November swept to power the National League for Democracy led by Ms Suu Kyi.

The United States on Tuesday eased some sanctions against Myanmar, in a move that officials say is aimed at encouraging political reforms. It removed Myanmar's state-owned banks from its blacklist, but maintained restrictions on several businesses with alleged ties to the military.

Asked about the US move during Wednesday's press conference, Ms Suu Kyi said: "I'm not afraid of the sanctions because I believe the sanctions were imposed for a particular reason. And these reasons will be removed in time."

She also said she was "quite confident" that the sanctions "will not hurt us in any way".

The US, like Singapore, "is a good friend and I believe we will remain good friends", she added.