Canada is opening its first ever embassy in Myanmar in response to political reforms and the easing of international sanctions. Foreign Minister Baird announced the move late Friday.
No doubt the decision also has something to do with a desire to get Canadian companies involved in the opening of Myanmar’s economy and the development of its considerable natural resources.
Baird noted “There’s been an incredible amount of reform in the country over the past 18 months. We’re impressed by that reform.” Last year Myanmar held Parliamentary elections and Nobel laureate and democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi won a seat. Hundreds of other political prisoners have been released and government control over the economy is easing.
On Thursday the United States lifted sanctions that prevented American companies from investing in Myanmar. They are expected to get involved in oil and gas development. Canadian sanctions that were put in place after a severe crackdown on protesters in 2007 were lifted in past April.
Last week 10 United Nations and NGO staff were arrested in western Myanmar, where fighting with ethnic minority groups has been reported.