Myanmar is located in the Southeast Asian peninsula, one of the ten ASEAN member countries. It shares its borders with five countries, including the two largest Asian economies, China and India. In terms of size, Myanmar is twice as large as Italy, while Italy’s population is 10 million larger than Myanmar’s. Myanmar’s strategic location offers a gateway to the Indian Ocean. The first Myanmar kingdom was established in the 11th century and kept its sovereignty until the 19th century, when the British colonized it. Myanmar regained its independence in 1948. Bilateral relations between Myanmar and Italy date back to the 18th century, when King Mindon twice sent a delegation led by Kin Wun Min Gyi to visit Italy. Likewise, Father Paolo Matteo Abbona played an important role between the two countries as he prepared the bilateral commerce and friendship agreement that in 1871 was signed in Mandalay between the Burmese Empire and the Kingdom of Italy.
The two countries opened a new chapter of diplomatic relations in 1950, and established their own embassies in each other’s capitals in 1962. Former president of Myanmar H.E. U Thein Sein paid a state visit to Italy in 2013. In addition, he took part in the Asia-Europe Meeting together with other leaders in Milan in 2014. As part of the official programme, H.E. U Thein Sein also visited Turin for two days. Two years later, in 2016, former prime minister of Italy H.E. Mr Paolo Gentiloni also visited Myanmar. In 2017, H.E. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi addressed the International Parliamentarians’ Conference in Rome as a special guest.
Myanmar chiefly exports a vast array of commodities, including natural gas, timber, beans, pulses, seafood, clothes and jewellery, while it imports oil, vehicles, machinery, construction materials, fertilizers, pharmaceutical products and lubricants. China, Singapore, Thailand, Japan and India stand as Myanmar’s top trading partners.
As for bilateral trade with Italy, trade volume reached USD217 million in 2017-2018. Myanmar’s exports to Italy include clothes, shoes, timber, seafood, rice, beans and pulses, and forest products. Electronics, machinery, construction materials, scientific tools, agricultural products, glass and glassware, chemicals and vehicles are the main Italian exports to Myanmar.
Due to its unique geographical location, Myanmar represents a land bridge between South and Southeast Asia, while its proximity to the largest Asian emerging markets, abundant natural resources and human capital offer great potential for trade and investment.
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