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Burma Still to Sign Visa-Free Travel Deals With Four Asean Countries

Visa-free travel into Burma for all citizens of Asean, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, should be implemented by the end of this year, the country’s tourism industry chief said.

Burma has already signed visa-free agreements with five of the 10 Asean members, but negotiations have still to be finalized with four other countries, including neighbor Thailand, said tourism federation secretary-general Kyi Thein Ko.

Burma is current chairman of Asean and the aim is to achieve visa-free travel across the 10 member countries by the time Naypyidaw hands over the chairmanship in January, he told regional travel trade publication TTR Weekly.

Next year is also supposed to herald the beginning of the Asean Economic Community, a European Union-style open trading market.

Burma has signed visa-free agreements with Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam Philippines and Brunei, but has still to sign with Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, TTR Weekly said.

The political disruption in Bangkok, the ousting of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the subsequent military coup has disrupted an agreement with Thailand, said Kyi Thein Ko.

“We understand Thailand agreed to visa-free facilitation at international airports, but not overland checkpoints, which was part of the proposal from our side,” he was quoted by TTR Weekly as saying at a tourism conference.

Bangkok has still not resolved the issue of work visa renewals for hundreds of thousands of Burmese migrant workers who cross the land
border in Thailand.