EU Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht, who visited Myanmar recently for the first time, topped the discussions with President U Thein Sein on increasing Myanmar's export to the EU, promoting trade link and socio-economic development.
The two leaders also discussed signing trade agreement, offering technical assistance to Myanmar for upgrading its export according to EU standard and encouraging more EU entrepreneurs to invest in the Southeast Asian nation.
Karel agreed with Myanmar Minister of National Planning and Economic Development Dr. Kan Zaw to negotiate for an investment protection agreement between EU and Myanmar.
They voiced commitment to working swiftly towards a mutually beneficial investment protection agreement which is supposed to improve the protection for investors of both parties and to attract investments to Myanmar and the EU by ensuring that they will be treated fairly and on an equal footing with other investors.
EU expressed readiness to continue supporting Myanmar both as a trade and a development partner, hoping to continue working with the Myanmar authorities and private sector to strengthen further trade relationship, according to an EU statement.
The EU is also in the process of selecting proposals for the establishment of a European Chamber of Commerce in Myanmar, which will boost advocacy of EU business in the country.
In 2013, bilateral trade in goods with Myanmar reached 569 million euros, compared to 403 million euros in 2012, a 41-percent increase.
Myanmar exports to the EU increased by 35 percent in 2013 to 223 million euros compared with 165 million euros in 2012.
The EU Trade and Private Sector package for Myanmar stood at some 15 million euros.
With the reinstatement of EU trade preferences in July 2013, Myanmar companies now enjoy duty-free and quota-free access to an European market of over 500 million consumers for all products except for arms and ammunition.
The reinstatement of the Everything but Arms (EBA) initiative under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) came as a response to Myanmar's process of political and economic reform in 2011 and in particular progress in labour rights, and followed the June 2012 decision by the Conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) to suspend its restrictive resolution on Myanmar.
The EU has provided development assistance to Myanmar since 1996 with over 400 million U.S. dollars. Following the political opening of the country, the commission announced a package of support of 200 million dollars for the fiscal year 2012-13 to be spent in the sectors of health, education livelihood.
In April 2013, EU announced in Luxembourg the total lifting of sanctions against Myanmar with the exception of arms embargo. In June of the year, the EU readmitted Myanmar to its Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), allowing to benefit from lower duties on export.
According to official figures, EU's investment in Myanmar from Britain, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Cyprus and Luxembourg amounted to about 3.966 billion U.S. dollars as of the end of 2013.
Meanwhile, Myanmar's trade with major EU trading partner countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany totaled 135.64 million U.S. dollars in the first three quarters of 2013-14, the statistics show.
Moreover, the EU is also seeking close cooperation with Myanmar in the latter's reform process vowing to build strong partnership and voiced commitment to push reform in Myanmar.