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Myanmar Opens ASEAN Economic Meetings

The annual meeting of economic ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations [ASEAN] has opened in Myanmar, with a focus on regional free trade zone talks.

Speaking at the opening of the meeting Monday in Naypyidaw, President Thein Sein has expressed hope Myanmar, also known as Burma, will benefit from ASEAN regional integration.

At the opening talks Monday, ministers discussed the easing of regional taxes and tariffs and the establishment of regulations for trade ahead of next year's planned start of the ASEAN Economic Community.

Information Minister Ye Htut told VOA's Burmese service that as the current chair of the ASEAN, Myanmar is focused on promoting awareness as one of the keys to taking advantage of the impending free trade zone.

"We’re aiming at local businesses and the public to know more about the regulations among ASEAN nations and we’re preparing to yield profits from an ASEAN free trade zone," said Ye Htut. "Tourism and industry can receive direct profit and also we can earn benefits from exposure and networking with international partners. All these benefits can advance our economy."

He added that Myanmar is hoping to narrow the development gap with other members of the regional group by seeking more job opportunities and foreign investment.

Representatives from the United States, China, Russia, Japan and others have been invited to participate in meetings this week focused on free trade and investment.

Ye Htut said several trade agreements are expected to sign during the four-day meetings.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Burmese service.