New Zealand opens embassy in Myanmar

Wellington, Sep 18 (IANS) New Zealand has opened its embassy in Myanmar, Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully announced Wednesday.

"This new office in Yangon reflects Myanmar's remarkable progress in implementing political and economic reforms over the past two years," Xinhua quoted McCully as saying in a statement.

"New Zealand has substantially increased its development assistance to Myanmar, with major commitments to dairy cooperation and capacity building. There is also considerable scope for New Zealand companies to invest," he said.

"The opening of this office comes as the region focuses its attention on Myanmar, which as the next chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, will host a number of ministerial and official level meetings throughout 2014, culminating in the East Asia Summit."

New Zealand has moved to normalise relations with Myanmar following reforms under the government of President Thein Sein, which has been in place since March 2011.

The country is due to hold general elections in 2015.

In the year to the end of April, New Zealand's exports to Myanmar were valued at around New Zealand $22 million (US$18.12 million), but the government believes Myanmar has potential to one day be a significant trading partner.

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