France and Myanmar
Since the 1990 elections, we have called for the resumption of a political process to enable national reconciliation and the establishment of democracy through dialogue.
France is working with its partners to ensure that the United Nations remains seized of the human rights situation in Burma. Every year, France supports UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council resolutions on Burma that are sponsored by the European Union. France fully supports the work of Ms Yanghee Lee, the UN Special Rapporteur mandated by the UN Human Rights Council.
Visits to Burma
• Ms Annick Girardin, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, visited Burma on 5-7 December 2014.
• The Minister of Culture and Communication, Ms Aurélie Filipetti, visited Burma on 6-7 December 2013.
• The Minister for Foreign Trade, Ms Nicole Bricq, visited Burma on 30-31 July 2013.
• The Minister Delegate for Development, Mr Pascal Canfin, visited Burma on
20-23 March 2013.
• The Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Alain Juppé, visited Burma in January 2012.
Visits to France
• Dr Kan Zaw, Minister of National Planning and Economic Development (7 May 2014).
• Aung San Suu Kyi (14-16 April 2014). She met with the French President, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the President of the National Assembly, the President of the Constitutional Council, the President of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council and the President of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French National Assembly.
• The Burmese President, Thein Sein, made an official visit to France (16-19 July 2013). He met with the French President, Prime Minister and Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, and Development.
• The Burmese Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin visited Paris on 12 February 2013.
In view of the restrictive measures adopted by the European Union since 1988, particularly in the field of trade (these measures lapsed in April 2013, see above), trade between France and Burma had been rather limited (€18 million per year on average). Trade has increased significantly since 2012. Our exports to Burma rose from €19 million in 2012 to €95 million in 2014 (due mainly to sales in the aviation sector), and imports from €6.1 million to €62 million.
The main French company established in Burma is the Total Group, which operates the Yadana offshore gas field, of which Total owns 31% of shares. This gas field (output of 8 billion m³/year) has allowed Burma to export large volumes of gas to Thailand in recent years. Due to this investment alone, France ranks 8th in terms of investment stock.
French companies are interested in investment and economic development prospects in Burma, in the energy, infrastructure, telecommunications, transport and agricultural sectors. It is very important to France that investments resume in accordance with international corporate social and environmental responsibility principles.
Cooperation between France and Burma is taking off again. The visit to Burma by the French Foreign Minister, Alain Juppé, in January 2012, strengthened our cooperation. Bilateral French aid to Burma rose from €1 million to €3 million and the French Development Agency (AFD) was authorized to intervene in March 2012 in the priority sectors of agriculture, health, and water and sanitation. The Agency has been authorized to provide non-concessional loans to Burma since December 2014, which will significantly expand its means of intervention.
Since 2008, France has been supporting Burmese civil society through a specific support programme for micro-projects. Supporting freedom of expression and the press is one of our priorities. Our commitment became a reality with the creation, on our initiative, of the first school of journalism in July 2014. In December 2013, the French embassy in Yangon co-organized the first International Women’s Forum in Burma, a new edition of which was held in December 2014. France also finances food security projects worth from €500,000 to €800,000 a year, as well as emergency assistance. Our overall cooperation budget, including all tools, is now close to €11 million. A significant part of this budget is intended to support people in rural areas, as well as the cultural and linguistic cooperation developed by the French Institute in Burma (520 students), which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011, and by the French Centre in Mandalay (150 students).
France is one of the main partners of the Myanmar Journalism Institute (MJI) whose first students graduated in summer 2015. Institutional cooperation is also being established in the areas of information, heritage, and agriculture.
France has also been developing extensive and diverse medical cooperation for many years, in particular to train specialist doctors (HIV/AIDS) and bring French and Burmese hospitals together in hospital partnerships.
In the field of culture, French cultural experts have been cooperating in Burma for decades on archaeological projects (Bagan) and palaeontological projects conducted by French research institutes.
Finally, “Campus France” encourages French universities to develop direct relations with Burma: nine French universities have established links with the Universities of Mandalay and Yangon since 2009.