MANILA - Myanmar President Thein Sein on Thursday urged Filipino businessmen and investors to invest in Myanmar, saying his country "offers ample investment opportunities."
Thein Sein, who arrived here Wednesday for a state visit, said that Myanmar "has been creating opportunities for a good economic environment and foreign direct investment."
"I have proposed to President (Benigno) Aquino to ask Filipino investors and businessmen to come and invest in Myanmar," Thein Sein told a news conference at the Malacanang presidential palace after meeting with Aquino.
Thein Sein said he also asked Aquino during their talks to provide assistance in the areas of health, education, and economic and human resource development.
"As you all know, we have lagged behind in terms of development compared to other ASEAN member states as economic sanctions were imposed against Myanmar for nearly two decades," Thein Sein said, referring to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
During their meeting, Thein Sein said he and Aquino "were able to exchange views on various issues, enhancing our bilateral relations and expanding our cooperation in various fields."
Thein Sein thanked the Philippines for its continued support of "Myanmar's transition towards democracy" and his country's efforts to achieve peace, stability and economic development.
"In doing so, we are making engagements with the internal political forces. At the same time, we have offered peace talks to the ethnic armed groups in the country to achieve national reconciliation," Thein Sein said. "All these efforts resulted in creating an environment of political stability and rule of law."
Aquino, for his part, reiterated Manila's support for Thein Sein's efforts to institute democratic and economic reforms, including the holding of free elections, the release of political prisoners, dialogue with the opposition, the expansion of political rights and the promulgation of new economic laws such as the new Foreign Investment Law.
"These herald a new chapter in Myanmar's history," Aquino said, adding that the Philippines supports Myanmar's initiatives and has offered assistance on capacity-building through technical cooperation.
Aquino and Thein Sein also witnessed the signing of six agreements, including a memorandum of agreement granting Filipinos entry to Myanmar without a visa for up to 14 days.
Myanmar nationals may already enter the Philippines without a visa for up to 30 days.
Thein Sein is slated to leave the Philippines on Friday.