News / Asia

Burmese Trade Minister Promises More Reforms

A top Burmese official is promising the international community that his country's military-backed government is not done implementing democratic reforms.

Trade Minister U Soe Thane told Reuters Saturday the process of reform "is not finished yet."  He said Burma's government is still looking at additional political changes as well as reforms in the economic sector.

U Soe Thane made the comments in Davos, Switzerland where he is leading Burma's first official delegation to the World Economic Forum.

He said Burma is trying to create an investment friendly environment and attract interest from some of its neighbors, like Thailand, Bangladesh, India and Laos, in addition to China, the United States and the European Union.

Nobel Peace Prize winner and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has also made an appearance at the conference, addressing delegates by video.  She called U Soe Thane's presence in Davos a sign of positive changes.  But she also warned that Burma has not yet reached a point of "great transformation.''    

Earlier this week, a team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which just concluded a visit to Burma, said the country has the potential of becoming the next economic frontier in Asia. The team urged Burma to remove impediments to growth by liberalizing trade and direct foreign investment, and by modernizing its financial sector.

In recent months, Burma has freed a number of political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi, who was under house arrest and now plans to run for parliament. It also has opened peace talks with ethnic rebels and loosened controls on the media.

But critics of Burma say despite the transition from military to civilian rule, Burmese generals still dominate parliament and politics.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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