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Brussels, 11 November 2013
Myanmar – EU Taskforce : Agricultural aspects
Myanmar – EU Taskforce: EU to support Myanmar sustainable development
Myanmar/Burma is emerging from decades of authoritarian rules and ethnic conflict. Since 2011, the new Government engaged in an ambitious reform agenda, which is supported by the EU. The Myanmar-EU Taskforce is being held in Myanmar on 13-15 November 2013, as announced in March 2013 by President Barroso, President Van Rompuy and Myanmar President U Thein Sein. It is aimed at setting a new level of ambition as to the future of our bilateral relations and the role of the EU in supporting a peaceful transition and helping economic development, for example in the agricultural sector. This task force is being chaired by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, with the participation of Commissioners Dacian Cioloş (Agriculture & Rural Development), Antonion Tajani (Enterprise) and Andris Piebalgs (Development) and a number of MEPs.
Agriculture at the heart of Myanmar development
Agriculture is at the heart of Myanmar's economy (employing more than 70% of the population) and flagged as a top priority in the national development road map. Significant steps have been made in recent years to improve the legal environment and to boost agricultural productivity, making sure that the farming sector has an important contribution both to the economic transition and to the democratic process. However, developing agriculture is not a path without challenges, because of the strategic role of farming in providing food security, growth and jobs in rural areas, but also because it involves a wide range of actors and issues such as land rights, still very sensitive in Myanmar. This is why Commissioner Cioloş found it very important to participate in this Myanmar-EU task force.
Important to establish a strong rural development policy, says Commissioner Cioloș
Speaking ahead of the Taskforce, Commissioner Cioloş underlined the EU's readiness to share experiences in agricultural policy-building, in establishing stable supply chains with a fair return for farmers, and policy tools to help farmers move beyond subsistence farming – and its savoir-faire in turning the diversity of agricultural models into strength. This will be done mainly through the coming multi-annual Indicative Programme (2014-2020) in which rural development and food security have been flagged as one of the focal sectors. Commission experts from the departments for Agriculture and for Development Aid will work together with Myanmar officials in elaborating and implementing EU-funded actions which are best suited to Myanmar's agricultural needs.