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Reuters-Myanmar says foreign invest

Subject: Reuters-Myanmar says foreign investment plummets 

Myanmar says foreign investment plummets
09:29 a.m. May 26, 1999 Eastern
YANGON, May 26 (Reuters) - Military-ruled Myanmar said on Wednesday that
foreign direct investment in its economy by other Southeast Asian countries
had plummeted by 70 percent last year.

``Asia's currency and financial crisis have had some effect on Myanmar,''
said Brigadier General D.O. Abel, a minister in the office of the chairman
of the ruling military-led State Peace and Development Council.

``Myanmar's underdeveloped capital markets, tight foreign exchange controls
and non-convertible, non-tradeable local currency spared us from the initial
financial crisis shock,'' he said at the opening of an ASEAN Chambers of
Commerce and Industry Business Forum in Yangon. The meeting ends on May 28.

``However, as the crisis deepened and turned into an economic turmoil,
Myanmar was impacted by the 'contagion' effect,'' added Abel, who is also
Myanmar's ASEAN economic minister.

``ASEAN investors had accounted for almost 60 percent of the FDI (foreign
direct investment) prior to the crisis,'' he said. But ASEAN investment had
plunged by 70 percent during 1998, he added without giving figures.

Myanmar is a new member of the 10-member Association of South East Asian

Unfavourable weather conditions, triggered by the drought-bearing El Nino
weather phenomenon, had also stunted economic development, he said.

Agrarian-based Myanmar, a big producer of rice and pulses, was now
intensifying efforts to boost its agriculture sector as a way to beat
economic decline.

``Food security is a high priority measure, and we have adequate rice
reserves,'' he said without giving details.

Another measure was tight budgetary control.

Myanmar has been slapped with economic and political sanctions by the United
States and the European Union for its poor human rights record and
suppression of political activity by the pro-democracy opposition led by
Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.