We picked up where we left off yesterday by visiting with the Mandalay Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a membership organization led by Mr. U Aung Than. Attending the meeting was:
Mr. Tun Tun Khine (who I am eternally indebted to for his calm assistance, patient translation and friendship) Dr. Maung Maung, Secretary General of the Mandalay Region, Mr. Sein Tun, General Secretary of the Sugar Cane and Sugar Related Products, Merchants and Manufacturers Association, Mr. Thet Htun Lin of the Golden Taste Pure Cooking Oil Production Company, Ms. Daw Khin Lay Myint, Vice Chairperson of the Gems and Jewelry Entrepreneurs Association, Mr. Chu Chue, Director of the Favorite Focus Co. LTD., Mr. U Maung Maung Oo, Secretary of the Mandalay Industrial Zone Management Committee, Dr. Nyi Nyi Swe, Managing Director of Real Net and Mr. Moe Kyaw Kyaw of the HTUNKAR Construction Co., LTD.
This enthusiastic group of professionals and entrepreneurs welcomed me warmly and were very interested in forging new relationships that aided in their vision to increase agricultural output and quality for the benefit of the farmers, traders and consumers, both foreign and domestic. I mentioned Bozeman and Montana State University’s agricultural heritage and familiarity with using technology to improve overall crop quality, increase yields, and streamline methods of planting and harvesting and bringing these commodities to market. There was also interest by the group in MSU’s business college offerings and the A.C.E. program. We agreed that additional educational opportunities, technological and infrastructure improvements all would be beneficial to the improving Myanmar economy.
I must now take a moment to say a special thank you to Mr. Thet Htun Lin of the Golden Taste Pure Cooking Oil Production Company. Once our meeting concluded, Mr. Thet offered to tour me around some of the sights of Mandalay including the famous Mandalay Hill (790 ft above an otherwise flat as a pancake plain), the highest point for miles around. Legend has it that Buddha himself scampered up the hill in the guise of a chicken (as not to be recognized by the villagers) and proclaimed that a great city would be founded near there some 2400 years after his prophetic visit. Mandalay was founded in 1857, 2400 years exactly from the date of Buddha’s proclamation.
We then traveled to Mr. Thet’s mill where he grinds groundnuts (peanuts) and presses the paste into a variety of peanut oils. His family has been operating the mill for two generations and the mill employs approximately 20 people, including his brothers and sisters. Mr. Thet regaled me with the history of the area, the mill and his family. I was welcomed so warmly, and engaged so sincerely that I instantly felt a connection with Mr. Thet and his family. They care so deeply for the future of Myanmar.
The final stop of the day was to the Mandalay Industrial Zone. Here is where the majority of manufacturing occurs in the area. We toured a factory specializing in the design and fabrication of rock crushing machines of various sizes used in the construction industry. The manager of the factory recently received a presidential award for innovation for his design, engineering and fabrication of this equipment.
After the factory tour, we quickly were on our way to the Mandalay airport where we caught a quick one hour flight back to Yangon. Tomorrow I am schedule to meet Ambassador Mitchell and some of his staff, the Economic Officer and others, as well as a round table discussion (economic and community development) at the American Center in the afternoon. Cheers,
City of Bozeman MT
Brit Fontenot | Director of Economic Development