by Chen Meihua
YANGON, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar and South Korea have been striving for enhancing bilateral relations especially bilateral cooperation in a number of sectors such as economy, investment, education, tourism and culture.
According to the official statistics, Myanmar-South Korea bilateral trade amounted to 252 million U.S. dollars in the fiscal year of 2008-09 (April-March), significantly increasing from 108.2million dollars in 2007-08.
Of the total, Myanmar's export to Korea took 63.7 million dollars while its import from the East Asian country stood 188.48 million dollars.
South Korea has become the 8th largest trading partner of Myanmar which exported to Korea about 3,000 items of goods covering agricultural produces, marine and forest products, and garments, while it mainly imported from Korea steel, garment, electrical and electronic goods.
In a bid to boost trade with Myanmar, South Korea granted import duty free and quota free on 253 more Myanmar goods items for this year which include agricultural produces, marine and forestry products, textile and traditional handicraft products.
South Korea's duty exemption on the Myanmar commodities has brought the total number of goods items at HS 6 digit level originated from least-developed countries including Myanmar to 4,074.
In the first half of this year, with the order increasing by 30percent, Myanmar's garment export to South Korea rose with a proceeds of 14.4 million U.S. dollars, up 16.2 percent compared with the same period of last year.
In the investment sector, South Korea's investment in Myanmar reached 240 million U.S. dollars up to March this year since 1988, standing as the 10th largest foreign investor in the country according to the Union of Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI).
The East Asian country's investment in 37 projects accounted for 1.52 percent of Myanmar's total foreign investment of 15 billion dollars, the UMFCCI said.
Meanwhile, a South Korean leading private HC company is seeking new investment in Yadanar Theinki mining block in Myanmar's northern Shan state on a mutually-beneficial basis and a field survey has been underway since early this year.
Moreover, A total of seven Myanmar companies and 70 Korean companies have sought investment and trade worth of 31 million U.S. dollars in Myanmar following a sideline meeting of private entrepreneurs of both countries at the June commemorative summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and South Korea held in Jeju Island.
To encourage Myanmar workers to work in South Korea and solve domestic unemployment problem, under an agreement between the two countries' labor ministries, Myanmar has sent 389 workers in the first seven months of this year to work in the sectors of agriculture, marine, and industries under an employment permit system (EP system).
At the same time, with the sponsor of Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), dozens of government employees from various ministries are to be sent this year to pursue advanced technological expertise in the industry and IT fields under Korean government sponsorship.
So far, a total of 1,000 Myanmar state employees have been sent under KOICA sponsorship since 1991.
As part of the two countries' cooperation in the technological development in the irrigation sector, the KOICA is also building an irrigation-related laboratory center in country's second largest of Mandalay.
The KOICA has stationed in Myanmar since 1991 providing the technical expertise and equipment needed for social service organizations as well as training in related fields.
Dealing with the education sector, the South Korean government is offering more scholarships for Myanmar pre-university students to study Korean language in Korean university for three years and winning students could benefit from studying at the National Institute for International Education (NIED) in South Korea's capital city of Seoul.
In tourism sector, the KOICA has been cooperating with the Myanmar Ministry of Culture in implementing project of greening the ancient city of Bagan to attract more world travelers to the tourist site. The move would also affect prevention against forest depletion and preserving natural environment.
Furthermore, the two countries have also been cooperating in the sector of culture. Besides launching Korean film week, Korean TV and the KBS shot a documentary film -- Insight in Asia 2009 during last year and more documentary video on Myanmar's Theravada Buddhism titled "Road to Nibbana" will also be shot in the country's famous Inlay Water Village in northern Shan State.
In November last year, the KBS group had also come to Myanmar and video Myanmar's ancient city of Bagan where over 2,000 pagodas and monasteries lie.
In February this year, the Myanmar Ministry of Information and the Korea Broadcasting Institute (KBI) signed an agreement on shooting documentary film on Myanmar's Buddhism and natural scenery which will be broadcast in Korean TV channels such as KBS-1, KBS-2, MBC, and SBS.