Myanmar hopes to attract greater forestry investment
Published : Aug 28, 2012 - 20:06
Updated : Aug 28, 2012 - 20:06
Senior official expects exports of products of high-quality teak to Korea will increase

Born and raised in attachment to forest by culture and history, Koreans have remained in active partnership with multiple Asian countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam to acquire beautiful wooden products.

Myanmar has emerged as Korea’s next overseas investment partner, Korean government officials said, and economic experts crowded the seventh conference for the Korea-Myanmar forestry partnership held in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, on July 26.

Largest among countries situated in the Indo-Chinese peninsula, Myanmar earned promising reviews from the Korean government delegation headed by deputy director general Kim Nam-gyun of the Korea Forest Service, which asked for a 500,000-hectar tract of land for a plantation site.

For a detailed blueprint of the prospects of the Korea-Myanmar forest partnership, The Korea Herald interviewed Tin Tun, deputy bureau chief of the nature and wildlife conservation division of the Forest Department of Myanmar, on Tuesday, one day before forest ministers of Korea and ASEAN convened for a special session to launch the world’s first international organization of forestry: the Asia Forest Cooperation Organization, or AFoCO. 
Myanmar deputy bureau chief on forestry Tin Tun Korea Forest Service

“Myanmar loves Korea and its culture. The two nations share many cultural and political grounds, including affection for trees. We especially appreciate Koreans’ application of forest technology in dry zones and their beautiful gardening taste,” Tun said.

“Koreans need only 10 years for research projects that Myanmar would take 40 years to accomplish. We still have much to learn.”

The Myanmar deputy bureau chief said the forestation project for arid zones led by Korean experts was highly successful.

Tun said that Myanmar has not been so successful in domestic forestation projects, largely because of financial and technological problems.

“We greatly appreciate the Korean government’s support in financial budget, technology, equipment and expertise. Our forestation project has become very fruitful since then.”

Forests cover about 46 percent of Myanmar, which are classified into several different types of forest regions ― pine forest, green forest, dry forest, mangrove forest and others ― that require different growing conditions.

Tun stressed that such natural environments provide excellent plantation sites for various kinds of lumber and other forest products.

Experts say Korean investment in forestation and development will continue to rapidly expand, especially in the wake of the seventh Korea-U.S. forest partnership conference held in July.

Tun also expected that the setup of AFoCO will boost Korean investment to Myanmar and its forest plantation.

“We are looking forward to Korea’s support with excellent human resources, technology, equipment, research institutes, along with financial budget,” he said.

In particular, the Myanmar senior official expressed high expectations for exporting products from high-quality teak trees to Korea, which abound in Myanmar forests.

The delicately colored Myanmarese teak trees are said to be highly durable and hence make excellent material for wooden furniture.

The tropical hardwood species come from four major supplying countries: Myanmar, India, Laos and Cambodia.

“Myanmar teak trees are the highest in quality and price,” Tun said. “The hot temperature and rich annual precipitation of Burma account for our lead in the supply of teak trees,” Tun said.

Upon recommending teak trees as a top choice in the forest industry, the deputy director stressed that the Myanmar government is willing to aid the exportation of teak trees as much as possible.

“We welcome all Korean enterprises willing to run business in Myanmar. Teak trees are one of the most precious gems that Myanmar presents to the world.”

By Lee Kwon-hyung and Chung Joo-won
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