Four a.m. came early this morning but I had to catch a 7 am flight to Nay Pyi Taw, the capital of Myanmar. The reason for the trip was to present material on Bozeman’s economic development strategy, conduct an English lesson and meet with officials form the Ministry of Commerce. I was surprised by a tour of the Myanmar Parliament. Before I get into the details of the day I would like to thanks Miss Thanda, my host in Nay Pyi Taw and member of the Ministry staff. She organized a fantastic presentation venue in the large conference room at the Ministry building and invited 60 or more of her colleagues to join us.
I would also like to say a huge thank you to Mr. Tun Tun Khine. We parted ways at the Yangon airport this morning after a productive and eventful week in Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay. His kindness and patience as well as his thoughtfulness and insight will not be forgotten. He looked after my needs and made sure all the details of our event packed schedule were covered. I will miss his friendship, sense of humor, kindness and his optimism and enthusiasm for the future of Myanmar. He embodies the character and values of the YSEALI program.
After the presentations we met with Director General of the Department of Trade and Promotion in the Ministry of Commerce Toe Aung Myint. DG Myint was very interested in the many observations I’ve recently made that draw some interesting parallels between Montana and Myanmar like, 1) the rural nature of each; 2) the need for improved infrastructure; 3) the need for skills trainings; 4) agricultural based economy; 5) a focus on tourism; and 6) difficulty of access to capital. Each of these commonalities provide a springboard for future conversation and dialogue. After about an hour of conversation (we initially were scheduled for 30 min) we said our goodbyes and agreed to follow-up on the proposed connections we discussed.
Next was a tour of the well appointed Myanmar Parliament, which, as I understand, is not accessed by many people, especially foreign tourists. I felt lucky to have Thanda who was instrumental in organizing this access.
Tomorrow we have additional meetings scheduled with members of the Ministry and then take a tour of the Gem Museum. I fly back to Yangon tomorrow afternoon for the final leg of the journey where I link up with Ms. Su Su, the principal of the Winning Security Company headquartered in Yangon. She will introduce me to several private business interests in Yangon as well as show me around the Yangon industrial zone.
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