Japan to seek debt relief for Myanmar at IMF meeting

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 20, 2012 11:30 PM
Japan to seek debt relief for Myanmar at IMF meeting

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will try to broker a deal on debt relief for fast-reforming Myanmar on the sidelines of the upcoming International Monetary Fund meeting in Tokyo, Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi said on Friday.

Japan waived $3.7 billion in Myanmar's unpaid debt in April, sending a clear signal of Tokyo's intention to capitalize on its improving investment climate and urgent infrastructure needs.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi's election to parliament in April helped to transform the pariah image of Myanmar and persuade the West to begin rolling back sanctions after a year of dramatic reforms.

Analysts and experts have said there will be opportunities for foreign companies across the industrial landscape - from energy, mining and construction to agriculture, finance and tourism.

Japan, which occupied Myanmar, then known as Burma, from 1942-45, is the country's biggest creditor.

"We want to put the Myanmar arrears problem under debate during the IMF meeting and discuss it with other countries involved, explaining Japan's position on the issue," Azumi told reporters in Tokyo.

"If we manage to forge a common view on the matter, Myanmar will be freed from economic restraints, and thanks to that, companies, including Japanese ones, will be able to move into Myanmar smoothly."

Japan's Finance Ministry will host an international conference on Myanmar in Tokyo on October 11 on the sidelines of IMF/World Bank annual meeting.

Japan is working to provide a $900 million bridge loan to cover Myanmar arrears to the World Bank and the Asia Development Bank through a group of Japanese banks.

A Japanese consortium signed a deal with Myanmar in August to jointly develop a special economic zone on the edge of the commercial capital, Yangon.

(Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski and Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Nick Macfie)