The Ambassador of the European Union (EU) to Myanmar, Roland Kobia, said that political stability and investment protection is needed to secure more European investment into Myanmar. He was speaking in an interview with the Myanmar Times. The EU is the biggest investor in ASEAN economies but not in Myanmar. Bilateral trade reached €1.55 billion in 2016, up from €404 million in 2012; in comparison, trade between the EU and Thailand amounted to €32.9 billion in 2015.
At the legislative level, EU companies are not on equal footing with other firms, says Kobia. In addition, there is no agreement to protect European investments. Myanmar has signed around ten investment protection agreements (IPAs) with different countries but not yet with the EU. However, in late April of this year, chief negotiators from the EU and Myanmar met in Yangon to discuss a possible IPA. Discussions continue in order to finalise the content of the agreement.
An IPA would come at a crucial time for Myanmar as without such protections, European companies might favour Thailand, Malaysia or Vietnam for their investments.